Andrea Campbell announces run for attorney general

Former Boston city councilor joins growing Democratic field

FORMER BOSTON CITY COUNCILOR Andrea Campbell is joining the Democratic race for attorney general, vowing to be “an attorney general for justice for all.” The 39-year-old Mattapan resident plans to make a campaign kickoff speech at 10 am Wednesday morning in Dorchester, after which she’ll make campaign appearances in Worcester and Springfield. 

“I’ve dedicated my life to fighting for greater equity and opportunity, and that’s what I’ll do as attorney general because the attorney general is not just the top law enforcement official of the Commonwealth, she must be an advocate for fundamental change and progress,” Campbell said in a statement announcing her candidacy. She said her campaign would emphasize the broad reach of the office on issues ranging from education and economic development to climate change, public safety, and public health.

Campbell joins Brookline labor attorney Shannon Liss-Riordan, who announced her candidacy last month. Quentin Palfrey, the Democratic lieutenant governor nominee in 2018, is expected to also enter the race.

The AG’s race opened up with the announcement by two-term Attorney General Maura Healey that she’s running for governor. 

Campbell, who placed third in the Boston mayoral race last year, served three terms as a district city councilor representing Mattapan and sections of Dorchester. She unseated a 32-year incumbent, Charles Yancey, to win the seat in 2015 and went on to become the first Black woman to serve as City Council president.

Sources close to Campbell told reporters two weeks ago that she was seriously weighing a race for AG. 

Though she had not yet formally announced her run, Campbell had a strong showing in the first poll conducted of the still-forming AG’s race. In a survey of likely Democratic primary voters released last week by the MassINC Polling Group, Campbell drew support from 31 percent of respondents in a hypothetical contest with Liss-Riordan, who garnered 3 percent, and Palfrey, who registered at 2 percent. Most voters (54 percent) had not chosen a candidate at this early stage of the race. The poll was done for Policy for Progress, a center-left Democratic policy organization.

Campbell gave up her city council seat to run for mayor in a five-way race that saw fellow city councilors Michelle Wu and Annissa Essaibi-George finish ahead of her and advance to the final election. 

On the council, Campbell championed passage of the Community Preservation Act, which levies a surcharge on property tax bills to fund affordable housing, open space, and historic preservation projects. She was also an outspoken advocate of strong police reforms, including the use of officer-worn body cameras and formation of a civilian oversight board. 

Campbell’s mother died when she was eight months old in a car accident on her way to visit Campbell’s father in prison. Campbell and her two brothers bounced between family members and spent time in foster care. While her twin brother Andre wound up in and out of jail and died in state corrections custody at age 29 awaiting trial, Campbell soared academically, graduating from Boston Latin School, Princeton University, and UCLA law school. 

Meet the Author

Michael Jonas

Executive Editor, CommonWealth

About Michael Jonas

Michael Jonas has worked in journalism in Massachusetts since the early 1980s. Before joining the CommonWealth staff in early 2001, he was a contributing writer for the magazine for two years. His cover story in CommonWealth's Fall 1999 issue on Boston youth outreach workers was selected for a PASS (Prevention for a Safer Society) Award from the National Council on Crime and Delinquency.

Michael got his start in journalism at the Dorchester Community News, a community newspaper serving Boston's largest neighborhood, where he covered a range of urban issues. Since the late 1980s, he has been a regular contributor to the Boston Globe. For 15 years he wrote a weekly column on local politics for the Boston Sunday Globe's City Weekly section.

Michael has also worked in broadcast journalism. In 1989, he was a co-producer for "The AIDS Quarterly," a national PBS series produced by WGBH-TV in Boston, and in the early 1990s, he worked as a producer for "Our Times," a weekly magazine program on WHDH-TV (Ch. 7) in Boston.

Michael lives in Dorchester with his wife and their two daughters.

About Michael Jonas

Michael Jonas has worked in journalism in Massachusetts since the early 1980s. Before joining the CommonWealth staff in early 2001, he was a contributing writer for the magazine for two years. His cover story in CommonWealth's Fall 1999 issue on Boston youth outreach workers was selected for a PASS (Prevention for a Safer Society) Award from the National Council on Crime and Delinquency.

Michael got his start in journalism at the Dorchester Community News, a community newspaper serving Boston's largest neighborhood, where he covered a range of urban issues. Since the late 1980s, he has been a regular contributor to the Boston Globe. For 15 years he wrote a weekly column on local politics for the Boston Sunday Globe's City Weekly section.

Michael has also worked in broadcast journalism. In 1989, he was a co-producer for "The AIDS Quarterly," a national PBS series produced by WGBH-TV in Boston, and in the early 1990s, he worked as a producer for "Our Times," a weekly magazine program on WHDH-TV (Ch. 7) in Boston.

Michael lives in Dorchester with his wife and their two daughters.

Following law school, Campbell worked at a Roxbury nonprofit that provided free legal services to families and students on education issues. She later served as an assistant legal counsel to Gov. Deval Patrick.

Campbell often framed her mayoral run as a quest to address ways that Boston’s schools and other institutions failed her twin brother and led him down such a different path than the one she was able to travel.

“I’m living proof that a girl who grew up in public housing in Roxbury, with a family torn apart by incarceration and poverty, with support from a community that believed in me, could turn pain into purpose, and become legal counsel for the governor of Massachusetts, be elected the first Black woman president of the Boston City Council,” Campbell said in announcing her run for AG.