One former state senator is already running for governor on the Democratic side of the ticket, and now a current member of the Senate says she is “seriously considering” a campaign for the corner office next year when Gov. Baker’s second term expires.
Sen. Sonia Chang-Díaz, a Democrat from Jamaica Plain and the first Latinx woman to serve in the state Senate, said on Monday that she is looking at the race for governor in 2022. She was a key player in efforts to pass school funding reform in 2019, and helped negotiate an overhaul of policing oversight and accountability laws last year in the wake of the killing of George Floyd.
“Families across Massachusetts are struggling to make rent, stay safe, and give their kids a brighter future. The crises now boiling over in our state — economic, public health, and racial justice — make it absolutely clear we need someone in the corner office who feels the same urgency working people do. Someone who’ll run toward problems, not away from them. That’s why I’m seriously considering running for governor,” Chang-Díaz said in a statement, shared with the News Service.
First elected to the Senate in 2008, the former teacher ran unopposed in her last two races, and as of the end of last month had more than $210,500 in her campaign account.
Chang-Diaz was mentioned as a potential candidate for mayor of Boston this year with Marty Walsh leaving City Hall to join the Biden administration, but she said she was focused on state-level policy and her role in the Senate, which includes chairing the new Joint Committee on Racial Equity, Civil Rights and Inclusion.
On Beacon Hill, she has been a voice for progressive causes from criminal justice reform to the more recent policing reform law signed last year by Gov. Baker. She has also filed legislation an advocated for more resources to improve the equity of Covid-19 vaccine distribution throughout communities in Massachusetts.
For many years, Chang-Díaz chaired the Committee on Education and worked to overhaul the funding formula for public schools. While she wasn’t chair of the committee last session when the Student Opportunity Act finally became law, she remained active on the issue as the legislation moved through the Senate.
Ben Downing, an East Boston Democrat who served with Chang-Díaz and represented the Berkshires for a decade in the Senate, jumped into the race for governor in February. Harvard professor and political theorist Danielle Allen has also said she is exploring a run, and anticipates making a decision on the race by June.
Baker has not yet said if he will seek a third term next year, or if Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito might run for governor instead on the GOP side. Democrats are also keeping a close eye on Attorney General Maura Healey for signs that the popular prosecutor might be leaning toward entering the race.
Chang-Díaz, a graduate of the University of Virginia and currently the only woman of color serving in the Senate, represents the Second Suffolk District, which includes parts of Dorchester, Jamaica Plain, Hyde Park, Mattapan, Mission Hill, Roslindale, Roxbury, and the South End in Boston.
Her father immigrated to the United States from Costa Rica, becoming the country’s first Latin American astronaut.