Democratic Party Chairman Gus Bickford won a second four-year term on Thursday night to lead the state party into the next election cycle when it hopes to reclaim the governor's office.
Bickford beat back challenges from two opponents — Mike Lake and Bob Massie — who said the party should be doing more to raise money and turn its platform into policy. Bickford won 229 votes on the first ballot, delivering him the majority that he needed to avoid a second round of voting.
Lake, a deputy treasurer of the party and former statewide candidate, finished second with 87 votes, and Massie, who ran for governor in 2018, earned 49 votes.
A 1986 Brown University graduate and longtime principal of Factotum Productions, Bickford highlighted his deep experience in Democratic politics and campaigns and the successes the party has had at the state level, from reelecting U.S. Sen. Edward Markey by 33 points to flipping a number of legislative seats on Beacon Hill from red to blue in special and regular elections.
"Look at the results," Bickford said.
The chairman also apologized for mistakes he made in the handling of complaints about sexual misconduct lodged by college Democrats against Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse during his primary against U.S. Rep Richard Neal. An independent report faulted Bickford and others in the party for violating rules against getting involved in a primary.
"There was no mal intent," Bickford said, committing himself to a healing process with members of the party and the LGBTQ community hurt by the episode.
While Bickford cited the party's work with other coalitions to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour and push for passage of the ROE Act in the House, his opponents said more needs to be done to advance the party's policies on climate change and other issues.
"We as a party have to do more than just elect Democrats. We have to deliver the promises of our platform," Lake said.
The post-election meeting of the Democratic State Committee took place over Zoom and was live-streamed on YouTube, leading to some awkward moments as members quibbled over voting procedures and how to use virtual chat functions. The microphones also picked up some members chatting idly about their admiration for Gov. Charlie Baker.
"I think he has a good moral compass," said one committee member, prompting another to declare, "He's awful."