Kimberly Driscoll Beats Obama’s Pick in Mass Primary

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As anticipated, state Legal professional Common Maura Healey gained the Democratic nomination for Massachusetts governor Tuesday, months after she successfully cleared the sector and strode one step nearer to creating history as the primary girl elected to guide the commonwealth and probably break one other ceiling as the primary lesbian within the nation elected to the nook workplace in a statehouse.

Massive? Certain. And extra on what Healey’s political future may appear to be beneath. However her win was not the actual Democratic headline popping out of Boston on Tuesday.

As a substitute, it was the slow-boil drama about Healey’s running mate that stored Bay State insiders buzzing with the slightest uncertainty. That’s as a result of one candidate within the lieutenant governor race had the state’s social gathering leaders behind her, and the opposite had the clear backing of Barack Obama.

It was scarcely a secret that the Massachusetts Democratic Occasion favored Salem Mayor Kimberley Driscoll as a working mate for Healey, over state senator Eric Lesser, a 30-something idealist who received his begin engaged on Obama’s first marketing campaign even earlier than graduating from school.

Each candidates had their very own appeals to the social gathering base in Massachusetts, even when there wasn’t a ton of daylight between them, or with state Rep. Tami Gouveia who positioned a distant third. Driscoll campaigned as a gradual insider, an even-handed determine who would assist Healey shore up her assist amongst feminine voters; the Healey-Driscoll ticket is the primary time Massachusetts voters picked an all-female group for governor and lieutenant governor. Lesser, in the meantime, was a technocrat’s dream candidate, a former West Wing aide who labored on financial coverage after graduating from his roles as human answering machine and one-man baggage supervisor.

[A needed disclosure and background: I have been friendly with Lesser for 15 years, dating to our mutual days traipsing through New Hampshire at the start of Obama’s nascent bid. I am not unique in that regard among the press corps. In the White House, Lesser was the gatekeeper for Obama alter-ego David Axelrod, who hosted fundraisers for his former aide.]

Healey, after all, stored publicly impartial. However Driscoll gained the endorsement on the state social gathering conference in June and instantly turned the individual to beat. Lesser had seen the play earlier than; in spite of everything, the unofficial posture of the Democratic Occasion in 2008 was that it was Hillary Clinton’s nomination to lose, till Obama’s group short-circuited that standard knowledge.

Nonetheless, an Obamaesque come-from-behind marketing campaign is a once-in-a-generation accomplishment. And whereas the Obama alumni network got here out in drive and helped Lesser keep aggressive within the money race, it couldn’t match the facility of a state political machine or an outdoor tremendous PAC powered, partially, with Republican builders’ {dollars}. Even Lesser touchdown the coveted standing image of a photo-op strolling and chatting together with his former high boss in Martha’s Winery wasn’t sufficient to spook the state social gathering.

However whereas the lieutenant governor race stoked loads of drama, Healey’s glide path to her social gathering’s nomination is teeing up completely different conversations.

Massachusetts has an open race for governor this yr. Charlie Baker, the favored Republican incumbent, opted for the exits after ex-President Donald Trump endorsed a main challenger, Geoff Diehl, who gained Tuesday night time. It mirrored Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan’s option to bypass one other election. The identical will be mentioned for Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey. Reasonably than struggle the MAGA Motion, the trio opted to search out simpler lives.

With Diehl because the nominee, Massachusetts is without doubt one of the Democratic Occasion’s ripest possibilities to scale back their deficit in governorships. Republicans have a six-seat advantage over Democrats in the intervening time, though Trump-like GOP candidates in a number of states places that quantity on shaky floor. Democratic meddling to spice up perceived extremists hasn’t harm, both. (Except, after all, these extremists win.)

Healey’s now anticipated to win within the fall, elevating new questions on her future. Few political insiders credibly suppose Healey’s political profession ends on Beacon Hill, and it’s totally doable she might ultimately be plucked for a federal posting. She’s been on the forefront of gun violence prevention for years, sued the Donald Trump administration virtually 100 occasions, and has a turnkey LGBTQ fundraising benefit nationally that’s probably second solely to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.

And keep in mind: the governor’s workplace in Boston isn’t a horrible launching pad for a presidential run: of the final six CEOs of Massachusetts, 4 have sought the White Home. Two—Michael Dukakis and Mitt Romney—captured the nomination. In fact, neither gained.

Nonetheless, three of these 4 presidential contenders have been white dudes, and all have been straight. And, in a Democratic Occasion searching for change, a lesbian trainblazer with a strong donor Rolodex may very well be mighty interesting, if not in 2024, then in 2028 or past. Massachusetts Democrats are betting this isn’t Healey’s final act. And, quietly, the most well-liked Democrat within the nation—who has an estate on Martha’s Winery—suspects Lesser’s last act isn’t written, both.

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Write to Philip Elliott at philip.elliott@time.com.



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