In secretary of state race, it’s experience vs lived experience

Secretary of State William Galvin and Tanisha Sullivan engaged in a lively debate on Wednesday at which the incumbent urged voters to trust the knowledge and experience he has gained from 27 years on the job while the challenger promised to be less reactive and more proactive and use her “lived experience” to get out the vote and spur change.

The difference in approach was highlighted when GBH host Jim Braude asked whether the two candidates would disqualify Donald Trump from the 2024 ballot for his role in the January 6 insurrection at the nation’s Capitol.

Galvin said he would bar Trump if the former president was convicted of a crime. Sullivan, an attorney who also heads the Boston office of the NAACP, said she would bar Trump even if he isn’t convicted and deal with the inevitable court challenge. 

The secretary blamed Beacon Hill for the slow pace of electoral and public records policy changes, while Sullivan said she would work with the Legislature to accomplish change or bypass it if necessary by enacting new laws via ballot questions.

Galvin pointed to major gains in voter registration and turnout, but Sullivan pointed out that turnout in lower income communities and Gateway Cities has been nearly 20 percentage points lower than the statewide average. 

“There are disparities but they’re not caused by the process,” Galvin insisted. “We cannot make it easier administratively to vote.” 

Sullivan said making voting easy isn’t enough. “It doesn’t matter if folks are registered to vote if they don’t believe in the system,” she said. “We’ve got to address the very real issues in our communities – the lack of trust and the lack of faith in our government and in our democracy.”

She said she would lead the discussion to restore trust in the system. “I believe in convening people,” she said, and noted most of the work needs to be done in communities where people of color and “working folks” live. 

Braude asked Sullivan if her race and gender were relevant to voters. She said her work experience as an attorney and a civil rights advocate is important, but so is her race and gender. “I bring my lived experience to this role as a Black woman, yes, a Black woman who is actively engaged in our communities,” she said.

Galvin said his experience is what the state needs now as the crucial 2024 national election looms on the horizon. “The most important issue is what’s going to happen in 2024. All the other things we care about are affected by the outcome of that election. We know that. And if we’re going to do something about it, we have to have someone there who understands in great detail the operations of elections. I do,” Galvin said. 

Braude mentioned two stories in CommonWealth – from 2017 and 2021 – that reported on minority hiring in Galvin’s office. In 2017, Galvin didn’t track his minority hiring and in 2021 he said 12.5 percent of his staff were minorities, the lowest percentage among the state’s five constitutional officers. 

At the debate, Galvin said 16 percent of his office’s workers are now people of color. The secretary said the percentage would be higher if his office didn’t have to absorb workers he did not hire himself from the various registries of deeds.  He said a majority of his directors are women, including one who is Black. 

Sullivan said the lack of minority representation at the state’s “chief democracy office” is a deep concern, as is the fact that Galvin’s minority hiring record is not readily available to the public. Galvin said he would release the data as soon as Thursday.




Strategic differences: The Democratic primary race for the state rep seat from Brookline pits two liberals against each other who differ not on policy but on strategy. Two-term incumbent Tommy Vitolo portrays himself as a pragmatist in the sausage-making world of Beacon Hill, while challenger Raul Fernandez says he would be a progressive purist, someone who won’t just go along to get along with House leadership.

“The larger issue with the incumbent and others like him is that the idea seems to be, let me be as non-committal as possible but really make everyone feel like I’m with them in some way,” said Fernandez.

– “We’re both dyed-in-the-wool lefties,” says Vitolo. “The difference is leadership style. He’s long on lofty rhetoric, short on results. He’s not one who makes compromises. He’s not one who collaborates with folks across the spectrum.” Read more.

Let the betting begin: Gov. Charlie Baker signs sports betting into law. Regulators say it will be a number of months before bets can be made. Read more.

Legislative rundown: Baker deals with a host of other bills, including an infrastructure bond bill, a bond bill to modernize technology in the judicial system, mental health legislation, and new gun licensing tweaks. He amended or vetoed a number of sections in the bills and outright vetoed an expansion of state-subsidized health insurance through the Connector. Read more.

Getting to know you: The three Democratic candidates for attorney general tried to showcase their strengths at a debate. Shannon Liss-Riordan emphasized her work suing corporations. Quentin Palfrey trumpeted his experience in government. And Andrea Campbell played up her lived experience and her endorsement by the current AG, Maura Healey. Read more.


Triple down: Jaclyn Bliss of Vicinity Energy says now is the time to triple down on renewables, not try to boost production of natural gas. Read more.




Thomas Turco, who retired from state government as Gov. Charlie Baker’s public safety secretary in July 2021, quietly returned this spring as a $105,000 per year half-time consultant in the same office. (Boston Globe


No outsiders need apply: Using Revere as an example, a WBUR investigation explores the shortcomings of municipal policies requiring police chiefs to be selected from within the ranks of the department.

Activists continue the push to rename Faneuil Hall, whose namesake was involved in the transatlantic slave trade. (Boston Globe


How much will the Inflation Reduction Act reduce inflation? Not much, reports the Globe’s Jim Puzzanghera. (Boston Globe)  


Retailers prepare for this weekend’s sales tax holiday. (MassLive)


Boston Public School officials say the district is on track to meet all 10 of the state-imposed conditions for improvement that are to be in place by August 15. (Boston Globe

A shortage of available slots is creating an early education and care crisis in the South Coast. (New Bedford Light


Native Americans call for a boycott of the Plimoth Patuxet Museums, the popular living history museum in Plymouth, saying the portion of the museum focused on indiginous life is small, in need of repairs, and staffed by workers who are not from local tribes. (Patriot Ledger)

An Easthampton resident hires a Los Angeles artist to paint a dragon across the front of his home as an anniversary gift for his wife. (Daily Hampshire Gazette)


Sen. Elizabeth Warren calls for new leadership at the MBTA. (Dorchester Reporter)

Airline ticket prices fell sharply in July as the price of jet fuel dropped. (New York Times)


A number of North Shore communities are looking into ways they could share a water supply in the future, with pipes connecting the communities to each other. (Salem News)

Tutus – large balls of encased wood chips with plants on top and seaweed below water – could be the answer to reducing coastal flooding. (WBUR)

State officials have declared a critical drought in a majority of the state. (MassLive)

A whale research team is asking Cape boaters to be on the lookout for two whale tags that apparently are no longer on whales and not transmitting their location. (Cape Cod Times)


Transit Police call for a special prosecutor to investigate allegations involving two of their officers, while Suffolk DA Kevin Hayden says he’s impaneling a grand jury to look at the case in which his own office has been accused of brooming aside possible charges against the officers. (Boston Globe

Brian Green, the son of Transit Police Chief Kenneth Green, was arrested on murder charges in connection with the shooting death of a man at the apartment of his wife. (Boston Herald)  

A former Boston Public Schools officials pleads guilty to recruiting students into the Latin Kings gang and having them distribute drugs to their classmates. He could get more than 18 years in prison. (New York Times)

Holyoke City Councilor Wilmer Puello-Mota admits to violating bail conditions and is now being held in a Rhode Island jail with bail set at $20,000 on charges related to impeding an investigation into his possession of child pornography. (MassLive)