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It's 'Maybe' Season In The Mass. Governor's Race

The Massachusetts state flag flies in front of the State House. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
The Massachusetts state flag flies in front of the State House. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

It is spring in the year before a gubernatorial election, and the "maybes" are blooming faster than the magnolias.

State Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz said Monday she is "seriously considering running for governor." The Jamaica Plain Democrat joins a list of people publicly mulling bids that includes Harvard professor Danielle Allen, a fellow Democrat; former GOP Senate candidate Geoff Diehl and incumbent Republican Gov. Charlie Baker.

Former state Sen. Ben Downing, a Democrat who represented a district in Western Massachusetts, is the only notable politician who has officially entered the race so far. But roughly 19 months before Election Day 2022, it's too soon to say who else will join him.

Jay Gonzalez, the Democratic nominee for governor in 2018, said in an email that what he told WBUR last fall remains true — "I would never say never, but I am not planning on" running again.

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Former Lt. Gov. Tim Murray, a Democrat who heads the Worcester Chamber of Commerce, said in an interview: "I don't rule out running again at some point, but I'm not planning anything at the moment."

The field will not include Bob Massie, the Democratic runner-up in 2018, who became a grandfather this month. He said he relished campaigning across the state in the last cycle, but "it's just not where I am in my life right now."

Massie mentioned Attorney General Maura Healey and Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone as additional, possible contenders for the Democratic nomination. Neither Healey nor Curtatone has announced a decision.

Massie said he recognizes politicians' caginess can frustrate voters and journalists who want to know who's in and who's out.

"I understand the question. It's like, 'Why don't you just say it?' " Massie said. "But I can tell you, having run several times statewide, it's such a huge thing. You suddenly have to raise tons of money. You suddenly have to pull together a great staff."

Massie said candidates also enjoy more leeway to spend money and talk to potential supporters before they official register as a candidate

"Once you become a candidate, every penny you spend is scrutinized. Every penny you raise is scrutinized. That's appropriate, but it takes a little while to get in place," he said.

On the Republican side, Diehl texted: "No decision on Gov race yet." Diehl is a former state lawmaker who represented the South Shore and ran unsuccessfully against Sen. Elizabeth Warren in 2018.

Then there is Baker, who has repeatedly dodged questions about whether he will seek a third term. he strongly hinted at a reelection bid on WBUR's Morning Edition this month, saying: "I really believe in the power and importance of state and local government, and we have a ton of work to do, even once we get past this pandemic."

If Baker does run again, he will not have to fend off another primary challenge by social conservative Scott Lively, who said in 2019 that it was "time to hang up [his] political spurs and move on to other things."

Lively confirmed his political retirement in an email Tuesday, writing that he has moved to Memphis to be near his grandchildren and is "glad to be out of the swampland of Mass politics."

Related:

Callum Borchers Twitter Reporter
Callum covers the Greater Boston business community for Bostonomix.

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