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Chang-Díaz ‘feels solid’ about the Democratic convention, shifts focus to undecided voters

Massachusetts Democratic gubernatorial candidate Senator Sonia Chang-Díaz.Jim Davis/Globe Staff

Less than a month before delegates from the Democratic Party gather virtually and in Worcester to endorse candidates for statewide office, state Senator Sonia Chang-Díaz, who is running for governor, affirmed that she “feels solid” about getting enough support to make it onto the September primary ballot.

On GBH News’ Boston Public Radio Tuesday, the Jamaica Plain Democrat said between the support she’s garnered on the campaign trail and the large number of undecided delegates, she is confident she’ll reach the 15 percent threshold required to be placed on the primary ballot alongside front-runner Attorney General Maura Healey, who is leading Chang-Díaz by just about every metric.


“Even in this insider environment, we found that the vast majority of delegates were undecided, which is good for us,” Chang-Díaz said. “We will continue to work those votes until Election Day. . . . It’s a grueling schedule, but I am called to this mission.”

While her campaign does not regularly publish her campaign event schedule, a spokesman said local reporters are occasionally alerted when the senator is in their area.

He said Globe reporters did not receive such notices when Chang-Diaz was campaigning in or around Boston because there is no formalized process for doing so.

According to a schedule provided by the campaign, the senator has attended almost 40 events in the last 30 days, including forums, meet-and-greets, media appearances, and Democratic town committee meetings across the state.

She told hosts Jim Braude and Margery Eagan that while campaigning comes with responsibilities that “make you want to tear your hair out,” she has enjoyed meeting with voters to spread her message.

During the Thursday radio appearance, Chang-Díaz laid out the various policy positions that she says differentiate her from Healey, a pattern she’s repeated in interviews and on the campaign trail in order to stand out in the two-way race that has been all but consumed by Healey.


She highlighted her rejection of fossil fuel donations and her support for fare-free transit, single-payer health care, and debt-free college, contrasting herself with the attorney general.

“I have a 13-year record of showing up and standing up for working families on Beacon Hill, even when it’s politically inconvenient,” she said. “It has not endeared me to the establishment. But I am the only candidate who has a record of standing up to forces who are standing in the way of progress.”

The attorney general leads the senator in fund-raising by an eye-popping margin — Healey had $4.9 million in the bank at the end of last month to Chang-Díaz’s $353,000. And a recent poll found the race wasn’t close to being close: Healey led by 45 percentage points.

During a gubernatorial forum last month, Chang-Díaz aggressively targeted Healey’s record on policing reforms, education, and the environment, saying that Healey has not fully embraced the equity lens that both candidates say anchors their campaigns.

And while Chang-Díaz has struggled to find opportunities to directly challenge Healey on bigger public stages, her schedule indicates that she’s been attempting to make inroads with communities beyond Boston in an effort to make it through the convention.

Her supporters laud her for jumping into the race before Governor Charlie Baker, known for being among the most popular governors in the country, announced he would not seek a third term.


Steve Leibowitz, 64, a supporter who has hosted the senator on her visits to Brewster, said her early announcement proved to him that she was “in it for the right reasons.” Now, the challenge is convincing the rest of his community.

“There are some leans, some undecideds,” he said. “The majority of folks are still figuring things out.”

Pittsfield City Councilor Helen Moon, who supported Healey through her campaigns for attorney general, is now backing Chang-Díaz, who she says is the only candidate to physically visit Pittsfield since the cycle began. Moon has hosted the senator multiple times, and threw two fund-raisers on her behalf.

According to Healey’s public schedule, she attended a caucus meeting among Pittsfield Democrats in February on Zoom.

Moon said the senator feels “authentic, and not like a political show.” She said while a lot of people in her community are also undecided or supporting Healey, she hopes to convince them that the race’s outcome is not predetermined.

“Sonia’s campaign reminds me of David and Goliath. People who we’re unassuming of can do amazing things, not because they take traditional ways of maneuvering, but because they have to move in an alternate way,” Moon said.

Samantha J. Gross can be reached at samantha.gross@globe.com. Follow her @samanthajgross.