Mass. Democrat Would-Be Gov Candidate Drops Out Before She Begins

Allen Halts Guv Run, Knocks Party Process

By Chris Lisinski
State House News Service

FEB. 15, 2022…..Slamming the Democratic Party’s nomination process on her way out of the race, Harvard professor Danielle Allen announced Tuesday that she will halt her bid for governor but intends to remain active in efforts to overhaul ballot access rules.

Allen said she plans to “wind down” her campaign, a decision that reduces the field of Democrats vying to flip the corner office to a one-on-one contest between Attorney General Maura Healey and Sen. Sonia Chang-Díaz.

With a lengthy statement announcing her decision on Tuesday, Allen did not say exactly what prompted her to step back from the race but she took aim at the hurdles that all candidates must clear en route to the ballot.

The existing model, she said, “does a disservice to Massachusetts’ history of leadership on democracy.”

“In Massachusetts, where we pride ourselves on being the birthplace of democracy, there is no excuse for ballot access procedures that push out qualified but non-traditional candidates and rob the people of Massachusetts of real choice on their ballot,” Allen, who herself is the first Black woman to launch a major-party bid for governor, said. “As I reflect on my next steps for civic engagement, working on democratic reform in this area will be a priority for me.”

Her announcement lands one day after nomination papers became available to candidates running in 2022, which will require gubernatorial candidates to collect signatures from 10,000 registered voters. It also comes early in a weeks-long Democratic Party caucus season that carries implications for the primary ballot.

Democratic caucuses are taking place through March 12, where voters will select delegates who will represent each town or ward at the June 3 and June 4 party convention as well as alternates. The party’s rules also call for “add-on” delegates designed to make the full field representative of the state’s demographic makeup.

At the convention, candidates must secure support from at least 15 percent of delegates to make it onto the primary ballot. Each delegate is “unpledged” and free to vote individually at the convention, according to a party spokesperson.

Allen said she believes the caucus system “is leading to a serious impoverishment of our democracy,” with “fewer choices on the ballot, fewer non-traditional candidates able to enter the pipeline.”

An author and political science professor, Allen in December 2020 — roughly a year before Republican Gov. Charlie Baker announced he would not seek reelection — became the first Democrat to explore a run for governor this cycle.

Allen said she is “incredibly proud” of her efforts on the campaign trail and her focus on topics such as climate and transparency.

“I am incredibly proud of the work our campaign has done to drive progress on these issues and on behalf of Massachusetts families — from pushing housing to the top of the conversation, to driving broad support for an executive branch that adheres to the Public Records Act, to becoming the first gubernatorial candidate in Massachusetts history to call for the decriminalization of addiction,” Allen said. “I’m incredibly proud to have led these efforts as the first Black woman in the history of Massachusetts to run for statewide office.”

“Today, while I am announcing my decision to wind down my campaign for governor, my commitment to continue creating progress on these issues — arm in arm with activists and community members across our Commonwealth — is unwavering,” she added.

Both Healey and Chang-Díaz on Tuesday praised Allen for her work, with Chang-Díaz thanking the Harvard professor “for the time, personal connections, and meaningful policy discussions we shared on the trail.”

“Danielle Allen has brought an important voice and valuable experience to the campaign trail every day, including in areas of housing, criminal justice, democracy, and health equity,” Chang-Díaz said. “She’s been clear that Massachusetts and our next Governor need to take on the status quo, act with the vision and urgency that this moment demands, and deliver real, transformational change for our state.”

“Her commitment to strengthening our democracy and building a more equitable, united Massachusetts is inspiring,” said Healey. “It’s been an honor to be in this race alongside her.”

Allen reported her best political fundraising month in January, hauling in $203,184 in donations, according to Office of Campaign and Political Finance data. Through the end of January, her campaign account had more than $492,000 in cash on hand.

Meanwhile, Chang-Díaz reported $167,125 in receipts in January and $335,807 in cash on hand at the month’s end, while Healey dwarfed both with $428,000 raised in January and more than $3.9 million on hand as the month drew to a close.

Former Sen. Ben Downing, a Democrat, dropped out of the gubernatorial race in December 2021, citing a lack of “financial resources” needed to keep his bid going.

The Democratic primary now figures to be a head-to-head showdown between Healey, who had been linked to the race for months before officially jumping in last month, and Chang-Díaz.

Chang-Díaz is running as a progressive who is critical of business as usual atop Beacon Hill, where she has served for years.

Two Republicans, former Rep. Geoff Diehl and businessman Chris Doughty, are also running in the open gubernatorial race.

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