The non-race for Massachusetts governor

MASSACHUSETTS, A PLACE long associated with spirited political contests, is sleepwalking its way through the state’s first open race for governor in eight years. 

“It’s August and we pretty much know who’s going to be governor. I feel bad even saying it,” said Evan Horowitz of the Center for State Policy Analysis at Tufts University. But Horowitz, the guest host on The Codcast, not only said it, he devoted this week’s episode to chewing over that idea with Erin O’Brien, a political science professor at the University of Massachusetts Boston. 

They landed in different spots, with Horowitz lamenting the impact of the non-race, while O’Brien saw it as an anomalous moment in state politics, but not one to get too exercised about. 

The Democratic primary contest for governor effectively ended in June, when state Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz dropped out, leaving Attorney General Maura Healey alone in the field. On the Republican side, front-runner Geoff Diehl, a former state rep, has largely brushed off debates with his GOP rival, businessman Chris Doughty. Looking ahead to November, either Republican candidate looks poised to be steamrolled by as many as 30 points by Healey, according to recent polling. 

That has people speculating – while summer beach days are still with us – about a Healey administration that seems primed to take power in January. 

“Campaigns matter,” said Horowitz. “They matter for candidates. They matter for constituents. They matter for voters. They matter for the future of the Commonwealth.” They have a “trial by fire” element that is healthy, he said, as they “expose things about candidates. And without a campaign you don’t expose things about candidates.” 

“It does matter,” O’Brien said about campaigns. “And I think you’re right: to kick the tires is important, to ask tough questions.” But she suggested that has, in many ways already been done, and that the early months of the Democratic primary and the polling looking ahead to November suggest Healey is something of a consensus choice. “Maura Healey is well-known to residents of Massachusetts. Those tires have been kicked,” she said. 

“You’re suggesting the lack of a campaign, or the lack of a contest, is actually just a testament to her strength as a candidate?” asked Horowitz. “Like, it shows actually we don’t have that many questions. If we really had questions, there would be a competitive race.”  

“Exactly. Somebody would get in there and win,” said O’Brien. “Are you buying it? You can’t see his eyes, people,” O’Brien said, suggesting that Horowitz wasn’t convinced.  

O’Brien said the lesson isn’t that “we don’t need competitive elections.” Instead, she said, this year’s race is simply “anomalistic,” with Healey a known quantity who’s been vetted by voters, while Republicans are poised to nominate a candidate who “is not electable.” She called it a unique case that we shouldn’t “overgeneralize from.” 

Horowitz kept pushing back, wondering where the serious conversation about Healey’s approach to governing and policy positions will come from. “If there were a debate, if there were a campaign, then there would be people saying, well –  I’m making this up – your health care policy is garbage. It’s lacking this. Your environmental policy is misguided,” he said. “We’re missing that.” What he fears, said Horowitz, is that “we get to January and then people start asking, what is the first bill you’re going to file? What is the actual top priority? And at that point, Healey and her team say, oh, we’ll figure it out right now.” 



Transgender transition home: Black and Pink Massachusetts opens a home (a small apartment, really) for transgender people just released from prison. It’s the first of its kind in New England, complete with blue, pink, and white furnishings, and designed to help with the transition from prison life.

– “I really wanted to make a space that was different, to make a space where folks could really come and heal from the trauma of such a dehumanizing process as incarceration,” said house coordinator Erin McLaughlin. “I wanted it to be where you could grow and flourish and experience that warmth and life incarceration has tried to deny them.” Read more.


Abortion precedent? Attorney Jamie Hoag, a legal aide to former Gov. Deval Patrick, says a court loss in a 2014 case seeking to ban an opioid could become a precedent blocking state efforts to ban FDA-approved medications that induce abortions. Read more.




Business leaders are urging Beacon Hill to reconvene to take up the economic development legislation that stalled at the end of the officials session. (Salem News)


A fire engulfed a boatyard in Mattapoisett over the weekend. (Associated Press)


Wayfair lays off 900 employees, 400 of them in the Boston area. (GBH) 

Amazon is closing five of its delivery facilities in Massachusetts – in Milford, Dedham, Everett, Mansfield, and Randolph. (MetroWest Daily News)

Bernie Sanders and labor leaders lead a pro-union rally in Cambridge. (Boston Globe

New data suggest remote and hybrid work arrangements are here to stay and are reshaping the country’s economics and demographics. (Washington Post

Klen Riehl, the CEO of the Greater Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce, is stepping down. (Gloucester Times)


The Mystic Valley Regional Charter School reverses course after citing a student for a “uniform infraction” because she was wearing a hijab. (Boston Globe


A statue of Elizabeth Freeman, the first enslaved Massachusetts woman to use the state’s constitution to sue for her freedom, is unveiled in Sheffield. (Berkshire Eagle)


It’s the first weekday of the Orange Line shutdown, and the early reports say things are going smoothly. (Boston Globe

Two Massachusetts congressmen, Steve Lynch and Seth Moulton, are now calling for the MBTA to be put into federal receivership. (Boston Herald

The recently enacted federal climate, health care, and taxes bill and the state’s new climate law both include new incentives for buying electrical vehicles that could cut the cost of EVs by as much as a quarter for some buyers. (Boston Globe)


Questions are being raised about the Boston police intelligence gathering after the department seemed caught off-guard by a recent white supremacist march. (Boston Globe


The union at the New York Daily News blames Alden Global Capital for the exodus of workers and the poor working conditions at the newspaper. (New York Post)