Primary guide: Lieutenant Governor
Here’s a look at the candidates on the Sept. 4 primary ballot, with biographies reported and compiled by Globe staff and correspondents. Candidates have also filled out a brief survey at our request.
Acts as governor when governor’s chair is vacant because of death, absence from the state, or other reason; chairs meetings of the Governor’s Council, an elected body that confirms judges. The winner of the primary will run on the same ticket as their party’s gubernatorial nominee.
Karyn E. Polito
A conservative state representative, Polito fought hard against gay marriage and pressed for “right to know” legislation backed by groups that oppose abortion rights. She lost a 2010 bid for state treasurer and joined Baker’s ticket four years later. As his running mate and, later, the state’s lieutenant governor, Polito has embraced being a moderate. She’s focused on being the administration’s top liaison to cities and towns and an advocate for efforts to reduce domestic violence and sexual assault. A Shrewsbury native and resident, she is deeply connected in Worcester County, a key enclave of GOP votes for any statewide candidate. State House insiders see Polito, 51, as eying the corner office.
What makes you uniquely qualified to be lieutenant governor?* I have been proud to serve as lieutenant governor since 2015, having previously served five terms in the state Legislature and as a local selectman from Shrewsbury, where our family also owns and operates a small business. Governor Baker and I have partnered to deliver bipartisan, commonsense, results-oriented leadership that is reforming state government, and making our economy, communities, schools and families stronger than ever. We believe with four more years, we have a tremendous opportunity to help Massachusetts continue this forward growth and momentum.
How do you view the responsibilities of lieutenant governor? Governor Baker and I have an effective partnership that ensures our focus on major priorities and results for the people of Massachusetts. I have been proud to lead our efforts to ensure state government is responsive to the unique needs of all 351 cities and towns and is doing all it can to prevent sexual assault and domestic violence and expand learning opportunities in STEM. We have also developed a positive working relationship with the Governor’s Council, whose meetings I chair, to ensure a thorough process for staffing a diverse, talented, fair, and impartial judicial system.
If elected (or reelected), what’s the first major policy item on your agenda, and how do you plan to make it happen? Please be specific. I’ll continue prioritizing stronger relationships with local municipal and school officials, giving the cities and towns who drive our success and strength a seat at the table and the flexible tools necessary to develop community-based solutions and Community Compact best practices for unlocking future growth. This includes leveraging the economic and environmental assets of our 78 coastal communities. I will also continue my focus on how we can help to prevent sexual assault and domestic violence, support survivors and families, and hold perpetrators accountable to make our communities safer.
What’s the most underrated part about living and working in Mass.? Having been to all 351 cities and towns, there are a lot of diverse options for places to live, work, and visit. We’ve put a lot of time into helping communities leverage their strengths and address their challenges, with local solutions, so they can continue to attract new growth and development.
A lawyer who served as health care chief in the office of the Massachusetts attorney general and worked in the Obama White House as a senior adviser in the Office of Science Technology Policy and in the Department of Commerce, Palfrey, 44, has framed his desire to serve in the context of the national political climate. He recently recalled watching the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., last year as he was considering a run for lieutenant governor. “I asked myself: What am I going to tell my children and my grandchildren that I did when our American values were so obviously under attack,” the Weston resident said. “And I want to be able to tell them that we stood up, and we fought back, and we pounded our fists on the table and screamed until we were hoarse: that this isn’t the kind of America we want to live in.” If elected as a Democratic governor’s number two, he said, he would focus on connecting state government with cities and towns, helping Massachusetts navigate federal relationships, and pressing for judges who will protect civil rights.
What makes you uniquely qualified to be lieutenant governor? I have spent my career standing up for consumers and fighting for social justice. I served under President Obama as senior adviser for Jobs Competitiveness in the White House Office of Science Technology Policy and as the first chief of the Health Care Division in the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office. I have also led several anti-poverty nonprofit organizations. My campaign has been endorsed by the Massachusetts Democratic Party and numerous progressive groups, labor unions, and elected officials.
How do you view the responsibilities of lieutenant governor? The LG must have the experience and skills to step in on day one as acting governor if needed. The LG should also be an ally and advocate for cities and towns who focuses on solving the challenges that affect ordinary people at the local level such as education, transportation, housing costs, and the opioid crisis. If elected, my central focus will be the fight against inequality and poverty. I will also use my role as chair of the Governor’s Council and my experience as a lawyer to promote civil rights and social justice through judicial appointments and criminal justice reform.
If elected (or reelected), what’s the first major policy item on your agenda, and how do you plan to make it happen? Please be specific. The first item on my agenda would be reforming the state’s education funding formula to ensure that every student regardless of race or zip code receives a world-class education. Massachusetts has some of the best schools in the country, including the public elementary schools my own children attend. But reform is badly needed to ensure that all schools and teachers across the state have the resources they need. I would also prioritize moving toward a single payer health care system, fighting the opioid crisis, making college and housing more affordable, and fighting climate change.
What’s the most underrated part about living and working in Mass.? Throughout its history, Massachusetts has led on the fight for social justice, from the American Revolution to the abolitionist movement to equal marriage and universal access to health care. I think it is time for Massachusetts to lead again.
A well-known Massachusetts comedian walks into the race for an obscure office, and his run is no joke. Tingle, 63, spent years doing stand up in Somerville, Cambridge, and around the world, and had appearances on “The Tonight Show,” “Late Night,” and other shows, as well as a stint as a regular commentator on “60 Minutes II.” After seeing the election results in 2016, Tingle, a Cambridge resident, said he felt moved to serve. On campaign stops, he speaks about struggling with alcoholism and trying to get into a rehabilitation facility but pushing up against their lack of beds or his lack of insurance. He recalls calling Cambridge City Hospital in the winter of 1987, being told he had called the right place, getting into federally funded rehab there, and turning his life around.“I believe in God. And I believe in the power of government to change people’s lives,” he says.
Editor’s note: Tingle paused his campaign following the death of his mother.
An asterisk (*) notes campaign representatives said they filled out the survey questions on behalf of the candidates.
The Globe’s primary guide was written by Globe correspondents Matt Stout, Marek Mazurek, Sophia Eppolito, and Jamie Halper, as well as Joshua Miller, Maria Cramer, Michael Levenson, Milton J. Valencia and Stephanie Ebbert of the Globe staff.
It was compiled and edited by Shira Center, and produced by Christina Prignano.