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2022 shaping up to be banner year for Massachusetts politics

January 21, 2022 GMT
Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey speaks with the media during a campaign stop at the Maverick Square T station, Thursday, Jan. 20, 2022, in Boston. Healey announced Thursday that she's entering the race for Massachusetts' governor. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey speaks with the media during a campaign stop at the Maverick Square T station, Thursday, Jan. 20, 2022, in Boston. Healey announced Thursday that she's entering the race for Massachusetts' governor. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey speaks with the media during a campaign stop at the Maverick Square T station, Thursday, Jan. 20, 2022, in Boston. Healey announced Thursday that she's entering the race for Massachusetts' governor. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

BOSTON (AP) — 2022 is shaping up to be a banner year for Massachusetts politics, with a crowded race for governor, a wide-open contest for attorney general, a number of spirited district attorney elections, and a handful of thorny ballot questions.

The contests also reflect the contours of the state’s demographic landscape.

The three announced Democratic candidates for governor are all women in a state that has never elected a woman to the office. That comes on the heels of Boston electing its first woman and first person of color as mayor last year — Michelle Wu.

With Republican Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito taking themselves out of the running, the office is up for grabs. On Thursday, Attorney General Maura Healey announced her candidacy, joining fellow Democrats Harvard professor Danielle Allen and state Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz.

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On the Republican side, Geoff Diehl, a former GOP state representative from Whitman and a President Donald Trump supporter, announced his candidacy before Baker opted out. Shiva Ayyadurai, who in 2020 lost a Republican primary bid for the U.S. Senate, said he also plans to run.

Healey’s decision signals the start of a scramble for an open race for attorney general.

Among Democrats weighing a run for the state’s top law enforcement post are Shannon Liss-Riordan, a Brookline labor attorney and onetime U.S. Senate candidate; Quentin Palfrey, the party’s 2018 nominee for lieutenant governor; and former Boston City Councilor Andrea Campbell, who launched an unsuccessful bid for mayor last year. Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan also hasn’t ruled out a run.

The governor and attorney general offices aren’t the only open statewide races this year.

State Auditor Suzanne Bump has said she won’t run again. Two Democratic candidates — transportation advocate Chris Dempsey and Methuen state Sen. Diana DiZoglio — have announced their candidacies.

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There are at least five Democrats running for lieutenant governor, including Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll, state Rep. Tami Gouveia of Acton, state Sen. Eric Lesser of Longmeadow, state Sen. Adam Hinds of Pittsfield and Boston businessman Bret Bero.

Whoever wins will run as a team in the general election with the winner of the Democratic primary for governor.

Longtime Democratic Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin hasn’t yet said whether he’ll seek election to an eighth term, but has already drawn a Democratic challenger in Tanisha Sullivan, president of the Boston branch of the NAACP.

Democratic state Treasurer Deborah Goldberg also hasn’t said whether she’ll run again.

One of the more closely watched races for district attorney is for the seat vacated by Rachael Rollins, who this month became the first Black woman to serve as US attorney for Massachusetts. Kevin Hayden was sworn in as the new Suffolk district attorney to complete Rollins’ term, but hasn’t said if he will run for the seat in the fall.

In another potential DA contest, Rahsaan Hall, a Democrat and director of ACLU Massachusetts’ racial justice program, is weighing a run against Republican Plymouth County District Attorney Republican Timothy Cruz, who’s held the job since 2002.

Two other longtime district attorneys — Cape and Islands DA Michael O’Keefe, a Republican, and Essex District DA Jonathan Blodgett, a Democrat — have decided not to seek reelection. Both have served five terms.

And in western Massachusetts, defense attorney Robert Sullivan is planning to challenge Berkshire District Attorney Andrea Harrington, a Democrat.

One of the most closely watched questions on the November ballot is the so-called “millionaire tax.”

Supporters say the proposed 4% surtax on the portion of an individual’s annual income that exceeds $1 million would generate about $2 billion in annual revenue for education and transportation. Opponents say the measure will cost jobs and push out some of the state’s wealthiest citizens.

Another thorny question is being championed by a coalition of app-based businesses including Uber, Lyft, DoorDash and Instacart.

Supporters say the proposal would set a minimum earnings guarantee for workers, extend new benefits including health care stipends and paid sick time. Workers would remain independent contractors instead of employees. Critics, including labor unions, say the measure would create a “second class” status for drivers while allowing big tech companies to avoid taxes.

All of the state’s nine members of the U.S. House are up for reelection, but neither of the state’s two Democratic U.S. senators — Elizabeth Warren and Edward Markey — will face voters this election cycle.