Evan Falchuk, whose 2014 run for governor put the political party he founded on the Massachusetts map, is now a Democrat, eschewing his third party in favor of a coordinated effort to combat President Trump’s agenda.
Falchuk said he filed paperwork to enroll in the Democratic Party last week. He declined to say whether he will once again seek elected office in 2018, when Governor Charlie Baker, a Republican, is up for reelection.
Falchuk, who spent nearly five years seeking to build the United Independent Party from the ground up, described the decision as a response to the challenges posed by the new presidential administration — urgent threats to civil liberties and fiscal responsibility, he said, that third parties are not equipped to handle.
“Politics has changed. It’s really time to take sides,” Falchuk said in a telephone interview. “We don’t have the luxury of spending decades to build a new political party.”
An entrepreneur and health care executive, Falchuk, 47, sought to shake up the political establishment when he mounted a risky third-party campaign for governor in 2014. By winning more than 3 percent of the statewide vote, Falchuk made the United Independent Party one of four recognized major parties in Massachusetts, along with the Democratic, Republican, and Green-Rainbow parties.
Falchuk’s vote total — more than 70,000, statewide — was far larger than the gap between Baker and Democratic nominee Martha Coakley, leading some to wonder whether he had enabled the Republican’s victory.
With Falchuk as chairman, the United Independent Party billed itself as modern, progressive, and “fiscally sane.” The combination of social progressivism and economic responsibility better reflected the sensibilities of a majority of Massachusetts voters, Falchuk said.
But the party fell well short of the required voter registrations to maintain official party status in 2016 and once again became a “political designation.” A handful of UIP-endorsed candidates never came close to winning seats.
Falchuk arrives as a high-profile member of the Democratic Party at a time when area elected officials appear to be embracing their new roles as leaders of the opposition to Trump. Senators Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey, Representative Seth Moulton, Attorney General Maura Healey, and Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh have all made waves well beyond Massachusetts for their full-throated criticism of Trump. And Baker, who all but washed his hands of the presidential race, offered his support of Healey’s challenge to Trump’s immigration ban.
Though Falchuk was viewed by some as a spoiler in the 2014 race, state Democratic Party chairman Gus Bickford welcomed the convert unequivocally in a statement Sunday.
“We welcome Evan’s ideas and leadership to the party and look forward to working with him and party members — new and old — in our fight against the regressive Republican agenda at the state and national level,” Bickford said.
Falchuk said he hopes to help reshape the Democratic Party as one that speaks to “working people” and understands that the country is divided less along left/right ideological lines than it is along class lines.
“That spectrum is not where it’s at right now. It’s about class,” said Falchuk, who outlined his reasoning in an op-ed in CommonWealth Magazine on Sunday. “Trump figured that out. Bernie Sanders figured that out.”
Coming up with a real plan, Falchuk said, will be critical.
“It’s got to have a vision of what comes next,” Falchuk said. “It can’t just be a party that says, ‘Donald Trump is bad.’ ”
Falchuk, the chief executive officer of VillagePlan, a startup that helps people navigate elder care systems, did not rule out a future run for office.
In November, Falchuk expressed openness to the idea of running against Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin, who is also up for reelection in 2018.
“We certainly need something that will revive our democratic process, and he’s not helping,” Falchuk told MassLive at the time.
Galvin had drawn the ire of Falchuk and the United Independent Party in November, when he told the Democratic National Convention that voters shouldn’t waste their ballots on third-party candidates.
Galvin’s spokesman did not return a message Sunday, but a run by Falchuk would mean a primary contest against an incumbent in a race that rarely captures much attention.
The Democratic field for governor, however, appears open.
Only Jay Gonzalez, former state secretary of administration and finance, has announced his candidacy. Several heavy hitters have already said they don’t plan to run, including Warren and Walsh, though potential candidates who have not ruled out a run include Newton Mayor Setti Warren and even former secretary of state and presidential candidate John Kerry.