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Mass. Senate president backs Maura Healey for governor over Sonia Chang-Díaz, her Senate colleague

Senate President Karen E. Spilka.Nicolaus Czarnecki/Pool

Karen E. Spilka, the top Democrat in the Massachusetts Senate, on Wednesday, endorsed Attorney General Maura Healey for governor, bypassing a member of her own Senate caucus in the two-way primary.

Spilka announced she’s backing Healey over state Senator Sonia Chang-Díaz just days before Democratic activists are scheduled to gather for the state party’s weekend convention.

Healey is widely expected to win the party’s endorsement in Worcester, where statewide candidates must also earn at least 15 percent of the delegates’ support to qualify for the Sept. 6 primary ballot.

In a statement released by Healey’s campaign, Spilka lauded the attorney general as a reliable partner, particularly in “confronting the mental health and opioid crises.” Spilka has prioritized addressing behavioral health inequities as Senate President, a post she’s held since 2018.


“Maura Healey is a proven leader who brings people together to deliver results and won’t hesitate to stand up for what’s right for the people of Massachusetts,” Spilka said in a statement.

Chang-Díaz has served with Spilka in the Senate since 2009. The Ashland Democrat removed Chang-Díaz from her longtime post as chair of the Legislature’s education committee in 2019, months after talks between Chang-Díaz and House negotiators crumbled over a major school funding bill at the end of the previous legislative session.

At the time, Chang-Díaz accused House leaders of having “moved the goalposts” during talks.

As a gubernatorial candidate, the seven-term Democrat has framed herself as somewhat of an outsider in the State House. In a video she released when she announced her campaign, Chang-Díaz decried who she called “Beacon Hill insiders,” who too often she said tell people to “think smaller” on major policy.

Matt Stout can be reached at matt.stout@globe.com. Follow him @mattpstout.