Established Democrats defeat lesser-known challengers in Mass. primaries

An election sign is captured in Somerville on Sept. 11, 2022. Natalie Brownsell / The Tufts Daily
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Incumbent State Rep. Erika Uyterhoeven won the 27th Middlesex District Democratic primary on Sept. 6, defeating opponent Jason Mackey. Uyterhoeven, who is currently running uncontested in the general election, won with 87% of the vote and is on track to continue representing the city of Somerville in the Massachusetts House of Representatives.

Uyterhoeven first assumed office in Jan. 2021. Prior to her work in the state legislature, she co-founded the nonprofit Act on Mass, which is dedicated to uplifting grassroots organizations and empowering voters. According to her campaign website, Uyterhoeven ran to “fight for a government that works for the many, not the few.”

Uyterhoeven’s challenger Jason Mackey was a former diversity officer for Ward 5 in Somerville. In an email to the Daily, Mackey described his motivation to enter the race.

“We have so much opportunity in [America], and I believe every American has the obligation to serve their country one way or the other; I ran for office to do just that,” Mackey wrote in an email to the Daily.

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Mackey noted the difficulty of running a campaign against an incumbent legislator. Earlier this month, he made the decision to suspend his campaign. 

“It eventually became clear that anything I did would be the equivalent of rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic,” he wrote. “I’m not one to give in when the going gets tough, but, given the circumstances, it was the sensible thing to do.”

But Mackey does not have any plans for leaving local politics and emphasized his dedication to public service. 

“I will remain involved in my Ward Committee and will continue making the case for a universal basic income through a non-profit I founded, UBINOW.org,” he wrote. “I’m sure I’ll run for office in Somerville again, but certainly not anytime soon. Citywide elections are next year, and I look forward to watching the action from the sidelines.”
In addition to state legislature seats, the Sept. 6 primary included races for the governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general. Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey defeated State Sen. Sonia Chang-Díaz in the Democratic gubernatorial primary, and Geoff Diehl won the Republican primary. Andrea Campbell won the Democratic primary for attorney general, and will face Republican James McMahon in the November general election. 

Ananya Modi, a sophomore, was a field organizing fellow for the Democratic candidate for attorney general, Shannon Liss-Riordan. 

“I’ve been working with Shannon’s campaign primarily for her unique position as being a labor lawyer for over many decades … and then just really wanting to continue that work as Attorney General,” Modi said. “She really had a bold vision for the [Executive Office of Health and Human Services] that centered working families.”

Modi worked part-time with Liss-Riordan’s campaign, canvassing, making calls, recruiting volunteers and attending press events. Liss-Riordan was, however, defeated in the Democratic primary by Campbell, a former Boston City Councilor. Despite the loss, Modi remained positive about their team’s accomplishments. 

“I think one of the first things [Liss-Riordan] did was call Andrea and congratulate her, which I really admired because that just shows that she was able to concede gracefully and have that respect,” Modi said.

Senior Mark Lannigan was also involved in a local election this cycle, serving as the finance director for Tami Gouveia. Gouveia ran for lieutenant governor and was defeated in the Democratic primary by Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll. Lannigan commented on his motivation to work with Gouveia’s campaign.

“Primarily, I think she really has shown that she stands up for the values she believes in,” he said. “She’s proven this time and time again in the legislature. This is also something that I think Erika [Uyterhoeven] does very well … really standing up for the big issues and not letting us play politics with people’s lives, so to speak.”

Both Modi and Lannigan noted that their respective campaign teams were concerned about voter turnout. 

“What I’ve heard from other campaigns was that they were worried about the lower turnout and what that would mean, not only for their campaigns but also just for democracy in Massachusetts in general. [It’s] always better when more people turn out — more people making their voice heard,” Lannigan said. 

Lannigan also noticed that many of the outcomes on Tuesday night had significant financial implications. 

“What we really saw with the results of the primary was a victory for really big money in politics, which is unfortunate,” he said. “Not all of the people who won statewide that day were in a spot where they were receiving big money, but there were a few candidates who triumphed over their opponents who really were being bankrolled by some huge money investors.”

The general election for all state and federal offices will be held on Nov. 8, 2022.

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