Longtime Secretary of State William Galvin said early Monday morning that he will run for reelection this year, telling voters that he would like to continue the work he's done since 1995 at a time when "[t]he necessity of faithful election administration has never been more obvious."
The Brighton Democrat who was elected to eight terms in the Massachusetts House beginning in 1975 could surpass former Secretary Frederic Cook's record 28-year tenure in the constitutional post if he wins an eighth four-year term this November. He faces at least one Democratic primary opponent, president of the Boston branch of the NAACP Tanisha Sullivan. Rayla Campbell of Randolph is running on the Republican side.
"At this time in our national history the conduct of accessible honest accurate election is critical to our national future," Galvin, who turns 72 in September, wrote in a reelection message posted to Instagram. He added, "I am proud of my record of innovative methods of increasing voter turnout while maintaining accurate transparent results. All our most recent elections have had record voter participation."
"These results come about because of changes in laws that I have championed and because of the expertise and management skills I have consistently demonstrated and developed," Galvin wrote.
A statewide post, the secretary of state's office oversees a broad suite of functions, ranging from corporations and securities to public records, lobbyists, the decennial census, and historical commission and state archives. It is also third in the line of gubernatorial succession, which occasionally results in the executive power of the state being transferred to the secretary for short periods of time.
But the secretary's role as chief administrator of elections and voting in Massachusetts is undoubtedly the part of the job that has and will get the vast majority of attention this campaign cycle. Driven in part by former President Donald Trump's unfounded claims of impropriety in the 2020 presidential election, some states have moved to tighten voting laws and change some election practices.
Debate is also expected to escalate on Beacon Hill this year over proposals to reimplement early voting and mail-in voting allowances that proved popular with voters early in the pandemic, as well as on proposals to allow unregistered voters to register and vote on the same day.
Sullivan, who announced her campaign last week, also focused on voting rights and election administration in her launch. She said that the inability of the federal government to act on voting rights means that "it falls to state leaders to protect and expand the right of every Massachusetts resident to participate in our government, and to show what a truly inclusive, representative democracy looks like."
As an incumbent, Galvin has faced and defeated Democratic primary challengers in 2018 (Josh Zakim) and 2006 (Jon Bonifaz).
In 2018, Zakim earned the upset endorsement of the Democratic Party convention and the backing of Boston Mayor Martin Walsh in June but took home less than a third of the statewide vote in the September primary against Galvin. It was the third time that the Brighton Democrat lost at the party convention and prevailed in the party primary — it also happened in 1990 when he ran for treasurer and in 1994 when he first ran for secretary of state.
Galvin defeated former Speaker George Keverian in the 1990 primary for treasurer. Republican Joe Malone beat him in the general election, the same year that Republican William Weld captured the governor's office and Republicans won enough Senate seats to sustain a gubernatorial veto. In 2002, Galvin was briefly a candidate for governor. Galvin co-chaired the former Committee on Government Regulations when he served in the House.
This year's primary election date has not been set in stone yet, but a COVID-19 response bill passed by the House and expected to be taken up this week in the Senate would schedule the state's 2022 primary elections for Sept. 6 to allow Galvin's office enough time to deliver November's statewide ballots to military and overseas voters.