By STEVE LeBLANC
BOSTON (AP) — State Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz said on June 23 that she is ending her campaign for governor of Massachusetts, leaving state Attorney General Maura Healey as the only viable Democrat still in the running.
Chang-Diaz, in her announcement that came one year to the day after she declared that she was entering the race, said she would instead turn her focus to making sure “down-ballot candidates who share her values and approach to put courage over politics” get elected.
“I am going to be spending my time campaigning and marshaling my supporters and the movement we’ve built for these Courage Democrats down ballot, candidates who walk the walk when it comes to our values,” she said in the statement. “I have no doubt that they will fight to put courage over politics in our state, and I am going to be using my energy to help put them into office.”
Chang-Diaz’s name will remain on the Sept. 6 primary ballot.
Two Republicans are vying for their party’s backing in the September primary: former state Rep. Geoff Diehl, who has the support of former President Donald Trump, and Wrentham business owner Chris Doughty, who has never before held public office. Republican Gov. Charlie Baker is not seeking a third term.
Healey said she hopes to continue working with Chang-Diaz.
“I’m deeply grateful to Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz for her many years of service to Massachusetts and her inspired leadership during this campaign,” Healey said in a written statement. “The legacy of her campaign will live on through the young girls who finally saw themselves represented in a candidate for the highest office in the state.”
The Republicans left in the race said the decision of Chang-Diaz will help sharpen the differences between their candidacies and Healey’s.
“Her departure from the race makes this now a clear contest between my vision to make Massachusetts a better place to live and work, and the policies of Maura Healey which would drive more families and businesses to leave our state in search of better opportunities elsewhere,” Diehl said in a statement.
Doughty, who is challenging Diehl for the GOP nomination, said it’s clear Healey “muscled Sonia out of the race so that Democrat voters don’t have a choice.”
“We believe that voters should have choices in elections, not coronations,” Doughty said in a statement. “With (Chang-Diaz) out of the race, it becomes even more critical for Republicans to choose the candidate who has the best chance of defeating Maura Healey.”
Chang-Diaz is the daughter of a social worker and the country’s first Latino astronaut, Franklin Chang-Diaz. She was elected as the state’s first Latina state senator in 2008. Had she been elected, she would have been the first Latina and first Asian American to hold the governor’s office.
She would also have become the first woman elected governor in Massachusetts, a title that would now go to Healey, if she wins.
If elected, Healey would also be the first openly gay candidate to serve in the state’s top political office.