On Monday, Feb. 8, former state senator Ben Downing announced his candidacy for the seat of governor of Massachusetts.
Downing, a Democrat, was elected to the Massachusetts state senate in 2006, and served until 2016. According to the Berkshire Eagle, Downing announced then that he would not run again for state senate in order to hold true to his promise of serving no more than 10 years, although many of his colleagues wanted him to stay.
Downing represented the Berkshire, Hampshire, Franklin and Hampden districts in western Massachusetts.
During his time as a state senator, Downing lead legislative efforts concerning clean energy development, combating poverty, and expanding protections for transgender individuals.
In 2016, Downing did not run for a sixth term in the state senate, and instead went to work as vice president of new market development at a company called Nexamp. Nexamp is a clean energy development company located in Boston.
Downing’s gubernatorial campaign is based on tackling issues such as climate change, economic inequality, and racial disparities. Downing has also highlighted a sense of urgency as a key component of his campaign, as well as a desire “to build a fairer, stronger Massachusetts.”
"What we have been lacking is that sense of urgency from our leadership,” said Downing, according to NBC Boston. “That’s what I want to bring to this race. That’s what I would bring to the governor's office."
The next election for governor of Massachusetts isn’t until November of 2022, and because current governor, Republican Charlie Baker, hasn’t yet announced if he will be running for reelection, Downing is the first candidate to enter the race.
Danielle Allen, a professor at Harvard and a political theorist, and Scott Khourie, an individual from Quincy with a background in finance, are also considering running for governor, and would serve as Downing’s Democratic opponents.
“I would be shocked if it wasn’t a crowded field, and I think that’s a good thing for the Democratic Party,” Downing said to Boston 25 News. “More importantly, it’s a good thing for the public. Big, messy, fun debates are a good thing.”
According to the Berkshire Eagle, fundraising could be difficult for Downing.
Mary Anne Marsh, a political analyst who “has known the Downing family for decades,” according to the Eagle, stated that fundraising may pose a challenge for Downing’s campaign. However, she asserted that a “hard slog, grind-it-out” form of grassroots fundraising could even be advantageous to Downing. Downing himself said that his campaign will be run in a manner that is “grassroots in the truest sense.”
As for Republican candidates, former state representative Geoff Diehl is a potential contender, as well as Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito, barring Governor Baker’s announcement of candidacy.
Downing has been vocal in his criticisms of Gov. Baker.
Downing believes transportation is a climate issue, and that the current lack of investment in the system by Gov. Baker is detrimental to all. He also believes the eviction moratorium should have been extended throughout the pandemic, while Gov. Baker instead replaced the moratorium with a $171 million eviction diversion initiative last October. Additionally, Downing feels that Baker’s climate leadership on the whole is lacking, and has also criticized Baker’s management of state agencies like the RMV, the MBTA, and the Department of Children and Families.
It appears that Downing has not yet set up a website for his gubernatorial campaign. To find more information about Ben Downing, including a biography and his sponsored legislation, visit https://ballotpedia.org/Benjamin_Downing