Updated Tues. Feb. 27 at 2:00 p.m. -- The race for the Fist Suffolk District got a lot more streamlined on Monday, as state Rep. Evandro Carvalho announced he will no longer pursue the senate seat left vacant by former state Sen. Linda Dorcena Forry, instead opting to seek the Suffolk County District Attorney’s post.
District Attorney Dan Conley announced last week that he would not seek re-election, prompting a flurry of interest from politicians with legal backgrounds across the county. The Suffolk County role serves Boston, Chelsea, Revere, and Winthrop.
In a statement, Carvalho said he “felt compelled” to run for senate after Dorcena Forry left her post at the end of January, to continue serving the Dorchester and Roxbury communities he represents from a higher office. But as a former prosecutor, he said the district attorney’s office has a profound impact on communities of color.
“I am running for District Attorney because too many families in our community live in fear in the shadows of gun violence, because too many young people-Black and Latino men in particular-are robbed of their future because of mass incarceration, and because too many people with addiction and mental health illness are in prison without adequate treatment,” he said. “I am committed to making the office more equitable, transparent, and accountable to the people, and to serving as a progressive leader who will be a voice for victims seeking justice and communities trying to heal.”
Conley has been Boston’s top prosecutor for 16 years, since 2002, when Acting Gov. Jane Swift appointed him to the position. He won election to the office later that year, and was re-elected without opposition three more times.
Boston Mayor Martin Walsh’s chief legal counsel Eugene O’Flaherty is also considering a run for the post. Shannon McAuliffe, a defense attorney who ran a program for gang-involved youth, plans to mount a candidacy. Other potential candidates are Rachael Rollins, the former Chief Legal Counsel for Massport and a past president of the Mass Black Lawyers Association, and City Councillor At-Large Michael Flaherty, who said last week he was weighing a run.
Two candidates have pulled papers for the seat so far according to the Secretary of the Commonwealth's office: Dan Conley, before his retirement announcement, and McAuliffe (D).
Carvalho’s announcement came hours after Andrea Cabral, former Suffolk County Sheriff and Massachusetts Secretary of Public Safety, said on Twitter that she would not consider running for the district attorney position.
“Though I care deeply about the office, it's future direction and the important work prosecutors do every day, I am pursuing an exciting & different career opportunity,” she wrote. “I am deeply touched (and even overwhelmed) by the outpouring of support and kind words from friends, strangers and friendly strangers; and grateful for the warm, wise counsel of those who helped me think it through."
"Best of luck to all who enter the race!” she added.
The Fifth Suffolk representative's decision leaves state Rep. Nick Collins, of South Boston, as the lone Democrat and front-runner for the First Suffolk Senate seat. In the April 3 primary, Collins will be alone on the ballot, along with a write-in space. For the Republican and Libertarian ballots in the primary, there will simply be a write-in space, according to the Secretary of the Commonwealth's office.
“Rep. Carvalho is a friend and I've enjoyed working with him as a colleague for the last several years as a member of the Boston delegation and particularly working together on the important issues of inclusion, access and opportunity for all," Collins said in a statement Monday. "His work in the State House and his experience in the Suffolk District Attorney’s office make him a formidable candidate for DA. I look forward to continuing to work with him on the many issues facing our city and state and I wish him the best in all his future endeavors."
"This campaign is not about one person or candidate," Collins continued. "It's about the 160,000 people that make up the 1st Suffolk District. So our strategy doesn't change. I will continue campaigning in every neighborhood, every ward and every precinct, sharing my record on inclusion, access and opportunity for all. I am committed to earning the trust of voters and building partnerships to improve the quality of life for all across our entire district and state.”
Two other unenrolled, or independent, candidates are also seeking the post -- Althea Garrison and Donald Osgood, Sr. -- both of whom cleared the needed 300 certified signature mark. Unenrolled candidates will be on the final election ballot on May 1.
After the special election concludes, candidates could still run in the normally scheduled November election for the First Suffolk seat. Three candidates have pulled papers as of Monday to run in the regular election: Duckens Petiti-Maitre (D), Garrison (Unenrolled), and Jesus Rosa (Unenrolled).
Carvalho will not need to withdraw his name from the First Suffolk race, as he had not yet submitted his nomination papers to the state Elections Division. The deadline to do so is Tuesday, Feb. 27 at 5 p.m.
The representative will not be running for re-election while seeking the district attorney position, a campaign spokeswoman confirmed Tuesday, leaving the Fifth Suffolk seat open. Three Democrats have already pulled papers for the Fifth Suffolk, according to the Secretary of the Commonwealth's office -- Brad Howze, Roy Owens, and Ceferina Murrell -- as has an unenrolled candidate, Steven A. Wise. Murrell was chief of staff for former state Sen. Dorcena Forry.