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With the primaries here, a lot still up in the air for statewide races in Massachusetts

A voter heads to a Massachusetts place in a file photo.
File photo
/
NEPM
A voter heads to a Massachusetts place in a file photo.

Many voters have already cast their ballots, but Tuesday is primary day in Massachusetts, with big races across the state.

There’s no drama at the top of the Democratic ballot. Attorney General Maura Healey is headed for victory over state Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz, who suspended her campaign months ago.

But the Republican primary for governor has been more interesting. Former President Donald Trump is getting involved in a rally, of sorts, Monday night for candidate Geoff Diehl.

Reporter Matt Murphy from the State House News Service starts with a look at the race between Diehl and his opponent, Chris Doughty.

Matt Murphy, State House News Service: President Trump has sort of been looming over this entire primary ever since he endorsed Geoff Diehl, way back in 2021, I believe, as governor, Baker was still considering whether to run for a third term. [Trump] is hosting a tele-rally tonight with Diehl to try and rally GOP voters to vote for Diehl.

But this is an interesting one. We haven't seen a lot of public polling in recent weeks, and we know that Chris Doughty, Wrentham businessman, using a lot of his own money, spending it to go on television, advertising, mailers, phone calls. Whether or not it's paying off — we'll have to wait and see until the polls close.

But we've seen this work for other candidates, like Democratic Shannon Liss-Riordan in the Democratic primary for attorney general, who has been advertising a ton and it's helped her to close the gap with — basically — the frontrunner for the entire race, Andrea Campbell.

So in this Republican primary, I think the odds people still thinking that Geoff Diehl will pull this out. It seems that his conservative messaging is where the base of the Republican Party, where Republican primary voters, are this cycle.

But, you know, don't count out Chris Doughty just yet.

Jill Kaufman, NEPM: Not yet. It's a very, interesting race. Let's talk more about that attorney general race. Maura Healey, running for governor, means there is an open seat, as you mentioned. It's a big one. And Andrea Campbell, the former Boston city councilor, is vying for that Democratic nomination, along with Shannon Liss-Riordan. This race had a big development in the past week when Quentin Palfrey dropped out. What impact does that have on the outcome?

A lot of major endorsements in this race coming late — of course, Andrea Campbell, the chosen candidate of Attorney General Maura Healey to be her successor — should she be successful [becoming] governor.

But we saw Elizabeth Warren, Boston Mayor Michelle Wu and others come out for Shannon Liss-Riordan. And then you had Quentin Palfrey dropping out, basically conceding that he saw no path for himself to the nomination, and endorsing Campbell.

The impact here is interesting. I mean, he was polling at 10, 11%. We knew that a large chunk of people had already voted. We don't know how many of those may have been Palfrey voters. But if you can bring even some of them along to Andrea Campbell, it could make a difference because, as I've said, we've seen in the polling that this race has essentially become a toss-up.

The Healey campaign is working hard for Campbell. They've been staging a number of events together, campaigning together leading into this primary. She will benefit from the attorney general, this organization. But, like I said, Liss-Riordan has been bombarding voters with ads and, with this primary coming the day after Labor Day, where voters have sort of been in vacation mode.

Right. I think the saying is that campaigning doesn't really begin until after Labor Day, until after people start thinking about their warm drinks and they hang up their bathing suits.

We've been keeping a close eye also, of course, on the Democratic race for lieutenant governor, because — in particular out here — Longmeadow state Senator Eric Lesser is on the ballot. Lesser has raised a ton of money for the primary, but he is still trailing in the polls. Do you expect an upset here at all?

This is another one I think could really go any way. I don't think any of these candidates are out of it. I know the polling has showed Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll in the lead basically throughout, had Lesser trailing in second. He has raised a lot of money. He's raised a lot of money his entire career. You know, so has the Salem mayor. And then you have Tami Gouveia in this three-person race.

While Lesser has trailed by double digits in some of the polls, the big number here in all of the polling has been the number of undecideds. This is a race where a lot of people may not have tuned in. They may not know a lot of the differences between the candidates, and issues-wise they're all very similar.

Some of it comes down to, I think, it's going to break on resume, who they think could balance the ticket with Maura Healey and perhaps geography, as you mentioned.

I know some of the candidates, including Mayor Driscoll, have been trying to make inroads in western Massachusetts, staging some fundraisers, some events in the Springfield area.

Let's just take a quick look finally at the Democratic race for the secretary of the commonwealth, the state's top election official. You've got the seven-term incumbent, Bill Galvin, up against attorney Tanisha Sullivan, president of the NAACP in Boston. Can you just lay out briefly what the big issues have been?

Yeah, fascinating race here. Tanisha Sullivan from the NAACP, a corporate attorney, basically lit up the convention, gave one of the most memorable speeches of that day back in June, but has trailed the incumbent, who continues to be strong.

Cycle after cycle, [Galvin has] run on his administrative abilities, his experience. He's pointed to the fact that you've seen other states have election dysfunction in recent years, and we've seen none of that in Massachusetts.

On the flip side, Sullivan is criticizing the secretary of state, basically saying that he's not rising to meet the moment. She wants to use the office to push for — to push harder than Galvin has — for things like same-day voter registration and even expansion and protection of abortion rights through the secretary of state's role in regulating companies.

Jill Kaufman has been a reporter and host at NEPM since 2005. Before that she spent 10 years at WBUR in Boston, producing "The Connection" with Christopher Lydon and on "Morning Edition" reporting and hosting. She's also hosted NHPR's daily talk show "The Exhange" and was an editor at PRX's "The World."

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