Galvin, Zakim Face Off In Heated Secretary Of State Debate

Massachusetts Secretary of State Bill Galvin, left, and his Democratic challenger, Boston City Councilor Josh Zakim (Michael Dwyer/AP)
Massachusetts Secretary of State Bill Galvin, left, and his Democratic challenger, Boston City Councilor Josh Zakim (Michael Dwyer/AP)

Voting records played a key role in a heated debate Friday between two Democrats running for secretary of state.

The incumbent, Secretary William Galvin, criticized his challenger, Boston City Councilor Josh Zakim, for failing to vote in a number of elections, including, he said, the 2004 presidential election with John Kerry on the ballot.

"Since moving to Boston and since registering to vote here I have not missed a single election,” Zakim, 34, responded.

Meanwhile, Zakim attacked Galvin, 67, for his past voting record on the hot button political issues of gay rights and abortion.

Galvin argued that Zakim was misrepresenting his record on those issues and that they are irrelevant to the role of secretary of state. He hit back at Zakim, saying at one point the comments were "an effort to hide your total lack of qualification for the office you seek."

Zakim, meanwhile, argued that “people need to know where their elected officials stand,” especially under the Trump administration and with a changing Supreme Court.

On abortion, Galvin ultimately stated that he supports a woman’s right to choose.

The broadcast debate aired on WBUR's Radio Boston, and was co-sponsored by the Boston Globe and the University of Massachusetts Boston.

The date of the upcoming primary election which, at Galvin’s choosing, falls on Sept. 4 -- directly following Labor Day -- was also a big topic of discussion.

Zakim argued that the election date was a poor choice that would discourage voter turnout due to its proximity to the holiday, but Galvin argued that it was the best possible choice when considering state law and Jewish holidays.

The pair also debated access to public records, for which Galvin's office has been criticized in the past.

“There’s a lot of discretion for a proactive secretary of state to push for more transparency,” Zakim said. But Galvin argued that if Zakim were truly concerned with public records, the Boston City Council would be doing more to focus on the issue locally.

The candidates also covered campaign contributions, voting security, accountability within their own offices and the last TV show they binge-watched.


In their closing statements, both candidates hit on the importance of maintaining transparency and resisting the Trump administration.

"I think we all know the importance of [this] election," Galvin said. "If we didn’t know it before 2016, we certainly know it now. I’m proud of the honest election record we have." He called the 2020 presidential election "the most important election since the Civil War."

"I do think the upcoming 2020 election is crucial in the history of our country and it’s crucial that Massachusetts is a leader," Zakim said, adding that the state should be paving the way for policies such as expanded registration and weekend voting.

The winner of the primary will face Republican Anthony Amore in November.

Watch the full debate here.


Headshot of Laney Ruckstuhl

Laney Ruckstuhl Field Producer
Laney Ruckstuhl is the field producer for Morning Edition. She was formerly a digital producer.



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