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Healey, Campbell make history with wins

Isaiah Thompson
Healey, Campbell make history with wins
Attorney General-elect Andrea Campbell and Governor-elect Maura Healey deliver victory speeches at the Fairmont Copley Hotel. PHOTOS: ISAIAH THOMPSON, YAWU MILLER

While partisans across the country anxiously awaited the results of Tuesday’s elections, Massachusetts Democrats were celebrating a decisive, historic win for their party on Election Night.

The victory Nov. 8 of Massachusetts Attorney General and now Governor-elect Maura Healey doesn’t just represent the first time a woman and openly gay person has been elected governor of the Commonwealth. Healey’s win also marks the flipping of the state’s top executive seat to a Democrat for the first time since Deval Patrick was reelected in 2010, and only the second time since Michael Dukakis’ reelection in 1986.

Speaking to a packed audience, Healey acknowledged the historic nature of her victory.

“Tonight, with the help of so many, we made history. I stand before you tonight proud to be the first woman and the first gay person ever elected governor of Massachusetts or any other state,” Healey said. “Tonight I want to say something to every little girl and to every LGBT person out there. I hope tonight shows you that you can be whatever, whatever, you want to be.”

Flanked by Lieutenant Governor-elect Kim Driscoll, Healey noted yet another historic milestone: With their election, she said, Massachusetts has become the first state in the union to elect women to both positions at the top of the ticket.

Meanwhile, with uncertain electoral outcomes looming across the country, Healey also framed her own victory as a sign that Massachusetts may play a role as a vanguard of progressive American politics.

“We are lucky to live in Massachusetts,” Healey said. “The people of Massachusetts tonight have given us a historic opportunity and a mandate to act. So we’re going to ignore the noise, we’re going to focus every day on making a difference in people’s lives.”

Those goals, Healey said, include working to protect the environment and combat climate change, and to protect progressive values, including women’s rights.

“As long as I’m governor, women will always have the right to control their own bodies,” Healey said.

Attorney General-elect Andrea Campbell, too, spoke to the historic nature of her own victory, both as the first Black person to be elected to be elected to serve statewide.

“It is not lost on me that tonight is a historic night for many reasons,” Campbell said. “In Massachusetts we don’t just say representation matters … For those who have felt knocked down and left behind and undervalued, this victory is for you.”

Drawing on her own personal history, which includes the death of her brother while incarcerated, Campbell promised to push for “meaningful criminal reform, prison reform and juvenile justice” and, as had Healey, promised to defend women’s reproductive rights.

Massachusetts Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, who handily won reelection to a third term, said the night’s wins showed Massachusetts to be a leader in progressive advancements.

“Massachusetts is leading the change that affirms that representation matters, that leadership matters, that vision matters,” said Pressley, who in 2018 was the first Black woman elected to Congress in the Commonwealth. “Tonight’s historic electoral victories are just the beginning. Massachusetts, we take our rightful place as we show the nation what is possible. We will not listen to those who tell us that the advancement of the marginalized is a loss for those who are doing OK; we reject that false narrative. The reality is when one of us thrives, we all do.”

On a night of close elections across the country, Healey’s decisive victory was unsurprising after she won the overwhelmingly blue Commonwealth’s primary election — but election night still registered as a potent moment for many.

“Healey is standing on the shoulders of every gay person since Stonewall,” said Wayne Kurtz, referring to the 1969 riots protesting police raids on the Stonewall Inn in New York City.

“As a gay man who couldn’t walk down the street holding hands” with a same-sex partner, Kurtz said, “this is the moment.”

Malik Williams, of Boston, praised Healey’s accessibility and openness to communities of color.

“There’s always a disconnect between people in political positions and leadership positions and then the community,” Williams said.

Destiny Ihenacho, of Brockton, said he volunteered for Campbell’s campaign because he believes in her values.

“These are real life issues that Andrea feels, that we feel,” he said. “I’m excited to see what she does about returning citizens, I’m excited to see what she does about recidivism programs, I’m excited to see what she does with prison phone calls.”

Sheila Graham, of Boston, whose mother, Cheryl Harding, introduced Campbell to the crowd, said she was elated to see Campbell, as well as Healey and Driscoll, take the stage in victory.

“I followed her since she was president of the City Council … This is what we need to get the work done in Massachusetts, from her to Maura Healey to Kim Driscoll, all of them, women, all up and down.”

She added, “I’ve never seen this. I’m almost 60 years old and I’ve never seen this, so this means a lot to me. She’s had some of the same struggles. I know she’ll make a difference.”

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