Chang-Diaz to run for governor in 2022

Sen. Sonia Chang-Díaz speaks in January at the ceremonial signing of Massachusetts' new policing reform law. The Boston Democrat was one of the lead negotiators of the landmark bill. (Sam Doran/State House News Service)

Sonia Chang-Diaz, the first Latina elected to the Massachusetts Senate, has set her sights on the office around the corner. The Jamaica Plain Democrat on Wednesday said she’s seeking the governor’s suite in 2022.

Her campaign launched a video and fundraising appeal that took aim at “insiders” on Beacon Hill, where she’s been a state senator since the election in 2008.

“I've spent my life listening to powerful people tell me to slow down. To think smaller. To wait,” she said in her appeal. “But voters didn’t send me to Beacon Hill to wait for change. Every day it’s getting harder for working families to live here. Health care and housing costs get higher. Black and brown kids face yawning opportunity gaps. The climate crisis threatens jobs and safety.”

She added: “Too many of our leaders are still more interested in keeping power than in doing something with it.”

Her appeal had echoes of Ayanna Pressley’s 2018 rebuke of wait-your-turn politics in Massachusetts. Pressley, a Boston city councillor who ran against longtime Congressman Michael Capuano and handily won, made “change can’t wait” a campaign refrain.

Chang-Diaz, a former teacher and the daughter of NASA’s first Latino astronaut, Franklin Chang-Diaz, joins two Democrats already running for governor: Her former colleague in the state Senate, Ben Downing, and Harvard professor Danielle Allen.

Attorney General Maura Healey, a Charlestown Democrat widely viewed as a potential gubernatorial candidate, has not said whether she plans to run.

The incumbent, Republican Gov. Charlie Baker, also hasn’t publicly indicated whether he plans to run for a third four-year term.

Chang-Diaz won the Second Suffolk Senate seat in 2008. The district includes parts of Dorchester, Mattapan and Jamaica Plain, as well as Hyde Park, Mission Hill, Roxbury, Roslindale and the South End.

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In the close and contentious race, Chang-Diaz beat out Dianne Wilkerson, the first Black woman elected to the state Senate, in a Democratic primary. Wilkerson launched a sticker campaign for the general election before she was indicted on attempted extortion charges. Wilkerson left the state Senate while under pressure from colleagues and pleaded guilty to the federal charges in 2010.

Chang-Diaz’s gubernatorial candidacy means the Second Suffolk will see the first open race for the Senate seat in decades.

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