Maura Healey, currently the attorney general of Massachusetts, easily won the Democratic nomination for governor in Tuesday’s primary, making her one of two lesbian candidates who could make history in November by being elected governors.
As of 9 p.m. local time, Healey was leading Sonia Chang-Díaz 84 percent to 16 percent, and the Associated Press had called the race for her. Chang-Díaz, a state senator, ended her campaign in June but was still on the ballot.
The Republican primary has not been called yet. The two competitors are Geoff Diehl, a former Massachusetts legislator who has Donald Trump’s endorsement, and Chris Doughty, a businessman who is more moderate. The incumbent, moderate Republican Charlie Baker, is not seeking reelection.
Healey is likely to win in November, but Massachusetts, although heavily Democratic, has sometimes elected Republican governors in the past few decades, including Baker, Mitt Romney, and William Weld. “Whether Healey faces Diehl or Doughty, the attorney general will be the prohibitive favorite in the general election,” The Sun of Lowell, Mass., reports.
In 2014, Healey became the first out member of the LGBTQ+ community to be elected attorney general of any state. As AG, she has led lawsuits against opioid makers, the Trump administration, and oil companies. She was previously a civil rights lawyer in the AG’s office, where she fought the Defense of Marriage Act.
In November, Healey and Tina Kotek of Oregon could be the first out lesbians elected to governors’ offices in the U.S. Kotek, who has been speaker of the Oregon House, won the Democratic primary in May. In the general election, she faces Republican Christine Drazan and independent Betsy Johnson. The incumbent, Democrat Kate Brown — the nation’s first out bisexual governor — cannot run again due to term limits. In 2018, Jared Polis of Colorado became the first out gay man elected governor, and he is likely to be reelected this year.
Healey recently told The Boston Globe that her lesbian identity had been a nonissue in the Massachusetts governor’s race. “I take it as a sign of progress in Massachusetts that it isn’t something I have to justify or overcome,” she said. “I am certainly proud of it; it’s my identity and who I am.”
Healey would be the first woman elected governor of Massachusetts as well. Jane Swift, who was lieutenant governor when Gov. Paul Cellucci became ambassador to Canada in 2001, moved up to the governor’s office, but she was never elected.
LGBTQ+ groups applauded Healey’s primary victory. “Tonight marks an important moment for LGBTQ women's representation,” LPAC Executive Director Lisa Turner said in a press release. “In the history of our country only three open lesbians have been gubernatorial nominees for major parties — Lupe Valdez in Texas in 2018, and this year Tina Kotek in Oregon and Maura Healey in Massachusetts. Maura has a track record of standing up for people of Massachusetts, whether by leading the first state challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act, fighting the oil companies, or taking on opioid manufacturers. By becoming one of the first open lesbians to lead a U.S. state, she will serve as a significant role model for LGBTQ women across the country.”
“As attorney general, Maura has used the power of the legal system to fight the opioid epidemic, protect our environment, safeguard LGBTQ rights and so much more,” added Annise Parker, president and CEO of the LGBTQ Victory Fund. “She knows how to disrupt the status quo and get real change done on behalf of her constituents. As governor, we are confident she will leverage this experience to help create a more just future for all Massachusetts residents, especially LGBTQ kids who’ve felt the brunt of anti-LGBTQ attacks this year. Her success tonight is a clear sign that our collective perseverance and grit will ultimately win out over the wave of intolerance sweeping our country.”