Well, friends, I’m not going to sugarcoat it.

The results of Tuesday’s primary were not what we wanted. It was an all around bad night for challengers, and a very good night for incumbents. Out of all 200 state legislative races, only one incumbent lost their primary to a challenger, and it wasn’t one of ours. (You can find the results of all MA primary races here.)

A handful of our races were painfully close. Heather May lost to incumbent Tom Stanley by just 313 votes. Nichole Mossalam lost to incumbent Paul Donato by just 62. It’s hard not to look at those numbers and think: if we had Same Day Voter Registration, making it far easier for students, renters, and first-time voters to cast a ballot, would things have gone differently? What if we had publicly-funded elections to level the financial playing field and shrink the influence of special interests?

But underscoring these losses is one harsh and anti-democratic reality: incumbents have an enormous advantage in elections. They tend to have the support of the party establishment and their powerful peers, and receive endorsements and funding from large risk-averse institutions who confuse their relationships with legislators for power. Plus, the power of name recognition and constituent service in local elections like these cannot be understated. 

Each race is different and I certainly don’t pretend to know exactly why the cards fell as they did on Tuesday night, but I do know one thing: this is a long battle. And we gain enormously by running challengers, even if they aren’t ultimately victorious; just by running, they often push their opponents to the left on key issues, like Rep. Sarah Peake who only cosponsored Medicare for All after Jack Stanton announced he was running.

Not least of all, these candidates had thousands of conversations with voters across the Commonwealth about the broken State House and how their government can and should be doing more for them. This is a phenomenal start to the deep organizing and civic outreach the progressive movement needs to do between election cycles–not just during them.

Lastly, I want to thank all our incredible candidates for running fantastic campaigns focused on democracy and uplifting the voices of their communities. And thank you to all who phonebanked and canvassed for these candidates! Our movement and our Commonwealth are better off because of you.

All right. That’s more than enough navel-gazing for one Scoop. 

And hey, I never said it was all bad news…

State House Scoop

Our Primary Victories

  • Sam Montaño, 15th Suffolk District: Sam sailed to victory in the primary for the open seat vacated by Rep. Nika Elugardo. Sam is a community organizer and housing justice activist who will be an incredible representative for the residents of JP, Roxbury, and Mission Hill. Since there is no Republican running in the general election, Sam is the presumptive representative-elect for this district. Sam is exactly the kind of person we need to send to Beacon Hill; they are a bold, equity-focused progressive, deeply embedded in their community, and are committed to fighting to reform our broken State House. You can see Sam’s completed endorsement questionnaire here.
  • Teresa English, 22nd Middlesex District: Teresa ran unopposed in the Democratic primary, and now goes on to face incumbent Republican Marc Lombardo in the general election in November. Teresa is a veteran, teacher, and mom of two. She’s running in a purple district (Billerica) on an unapologetically progressive platform of urgent climate action, housing as a human right, and Medicare for All. Plus, she’s committed to breaking down the systemic barriers to passing progressive legislation, i.e. the lack of transparency and accountability on Beacon Hill. Read more about Teresa’s platform on her website, and check out her endorsement questionnaire here. Her Republican opponent, perhaps the most conservative and Trumpian member currently serving in the legislature, is one of the lead sponsors of the referendum to repeal the Work and Family Mobility Act.

Now that the primary is behind us, it’s time to go all in on the competitive general election races. Sign up to volunteer for Teresa today!

In Memoriam: The Graveyard of the 192nd Session

Now that our legislature is through with major business for the rest of the year, it’s time to take a look back through the 192nd legislative session to acknowledge some of the popular progressive bills that died, yet again.

Healthy Youth Act

This bill, first filed in 2011, would require that sex education taught in Massachusetts public schools 1) be medically accurate, 2) be LGBTQ+ inclusive, and 3) teach about consent and healthy relationships. That’s right–there is currently no requirement in the Bay State that sex ed taught to students be accurate. This legislation is supported by organizations like Planned Parenthood, Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women, MassEquality, and REACH Beyond Domestic Violence. Seems like a no-brainer, right?

Wrong. Well, according to the Massachusetts Legislature, anyways. This bill has been filed and killed in the State House 6 sessions in a row. It passed the Senate on more than one occasion, only for it to die in the House. Why won’t the House just take up and pass this simple bill which has virtually no price tag? The truth is, the Speaker of the House in Massachusetts has always been a straight, white, conservative Democratic man. And in this instance, he is choosing not to advance policy that would have a massive impact on the health and safety of young people, especially young women and members of the LGBTQ community. Hmm, maybe ceding virtually all power to just one or two people in the legislature isn't the best way to represent everyone's needs.

Take Action

Join the Fair Share Campaign!

It’s time to gear up for the general election on November 8th! Voters this year will have a rare and precious opportunity to amend the state’s constitution by passing the Fair Share Amendment. According to our constitution in Massachusetts, we must tax all income at a flat rate. This regressive tax system means billionaires’ income is taxed at the same rate as the poorest taxpayers. By passing the Fair Share Amendment, we do away with the flat tax requirement, and place an additional 4% tax on income over $1,000,000 per year. 99% of Bay Staters wouldn’t pay a penny more in taxes, and yet we would raise an additional $2 billion per year for education and transportation infrastructure.

We can’t let this opportunity slip through our fingers. Find a volunteer event in your area.

That’s all for this week! 

I know Tuesday was filled with disappointment and frustration for many of us, and I know that elections are exhausting. If you were out there campaigning this spring and summer, make sure to take some time to rest, recover, and celebrate all your hard work. You more than earned it.

And after we rest, I'll see you back on the doors.

In Solidarity,

Erin Leahy

Executive Director, Act on Mass