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‘Verbatim, he said, “I made you mayor.” You don’t forget words like that.’

Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera (above, in 2017) says he received an angry phone call from Secretary of State William Galvin after he endorsed Galvin’s opponent, Josh Zakim. Cheryl Senter for The Boston Globe/File

Secretary of State William Galvin hasn’t had a primary opponent in more than a decade, and it appears that Boston City Councilor Josh Zakim’s challenge this year isn’t sitting well with the six-term incumbent.

Hours after Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera endorsed Zakim two weeks ago, Galvin called the mayor to voice his displeasure with the decision.

The conversation, according to Rivera, devolved into a heated exchange during which both men cursed at one another and Galvin accused Rivera of disloyalty, suggesting that the mayor owed him his political career.

“Verbatim, he said, ‘I made you mayor.’ You don’t forget words like that,” Rivera said.


The call from Galvin to Rivera’s cellphone came the night Rivera announced that he would be endorsing Zakim. The caller ID on the mayor’s cell showed a 617 area code, but the rest of the number was blocked, Rivera said.

Rivera said that up until that night, Feb. 16, he had never spoken to Galvin on the phone.

“He commenced to make hay about my endorsing Josh, which is not unpredictable, but what really got me shocked is that he said he made me mayor. He didn’t come knock on doors for me. I’m pretty sure my team is the reason we won that first election by 81 votes,” Rivera said. “Second, I’m not sure the state’s election official can claim that. I think he proceeded to say he sent people up here to make the election fair and I said, ‘That’s your job.’ ”

Rivera says he he was the first to “say something crass” because he was upset that Galvin was trying to take credit for his political accomplishments.

He called the entire conversation “unbecoming of a constitutional officer.”

Galvin was given multiple days to respond to Rivera’s characterization of the phone call and what was said, but did not respond to a request for an interview.


Since he was first elected secretary of state in 1994, Galvin has only one time drawn a primary challenger. He defeated John Bonifaz, a constitutional law attorney from Amherst, in the 2006 primary.

Rivera was first elected mayor in 2013 by a razor-thin margin after a recount confirmed his victory over former state lawmaker William Lantigua. He was reelected in 2017, but Rivera said that apart from dealing with people in Galvin’s office he had no “real relationship” with the secretary.

An election observer from Galvin’s office in 2013, during Rivera’s first campaign for mayor, found “confusion and overall chaos” at the polls in the city’s preliminary elections, according to local media reports from the time, feeding concerns about voting irregularities in the city that dated back to the 1990s.

Monitors from the state were again sent to Lawrence in 2017 to ensure a smooth election.