Current Massachusetts Attorney General and gubernatorial frontrunner Maura Healey has made no secrets about who she wants to work with on Beacon Hill if she takes over the corner office this January.
With two state representatives on the SouthCoast – Chris Markey (D-Dartmouth) and Bill Straus (D-Mattapoisett) – flanked with rare primary challenges, Healey has decided to put her political weight behind the seasoned lawmakers, urging their constituents to send them back to the legislature.
Rep. Markey of the 9th Bristol District, which is comprised of his hometown of Dartmouth and parts of New Bedford’s North End, has served in the legislature since 2011 when he succeeded longtime incumbent John Quinn. Markey, a former prosecutor and an attorney in private practice, currently sits on the House Committee on Audit and Oversight, Joint Committee on Mental Health, Substance Use and Recovery, Joint Committee on Revenue, and the Joint Committee on State Administration and Regulatory Oversight.
Markey has campaigned on the work he’s done in the State House to secure major investments in early childhood education, investments in local infrastructure in offshore wind, and his district’s strong response to COVID, having secured a vaccination site in Dartmouth that was accessible by New Bedford public transit.
Markey is being challenged to his left by Cameron Costa, a young local activist who has been an appointee by Governor Charlie Baker to the Student Advisory Council on the Board of Higher Education and the New Bedford Site Advisory Board for the Department of Mental Health. He’s been endorsed by local labor and progressive organizations such as the AFL-CIO and the Coalition for Social Justice.
Costa is campaigning on wedge issues from the left such as his support of – and Markey’s opposition to – the Work and Family Mobility Act, which allows undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses, and the proposed “millionaire’s tax” on this year’s statewide ballot.
Healey said in her endorsement of Markey that she appreciates his experience and pragmatism.
“Representative Markey is a dedicated public servant who can be counted on to take a thoughtful, balanced approach to governing.” healey said. “He has been a strong leader for the 9th Bristol District and I’m proud to endorse him for reelection.”
Just a few miles east, Rep. Bill Straus, who represents the 10th Bristol District that consists of parts New Bedford’s North End and Acushnet, as well as all of Fairhaven, Marion, Rochester and his hometown of Mattapoisett, is facing a primary challenge on his right flank by local businessman Rick Trapilo . Straus has occupied the seat for the 10th Bristol since 1993 and currently chairs the powerful Transportation Committee in the State House.
Straus is campaigning for reelection on his work as Transportation Chair, having played a key role in the authoring and passage of the $11 million Transportation and Climate Bill, which among many other project earmarks funding for the construction of an updated New Bedford-Fairhaven Bridge, and for the securing the long-awaited arrival of South Coast Rail, which will bring the region rail service to Boston.
Trapilo, once a registered Republican in the 1990s before switching his registration to Democrat in 2000, has branded himself as a “conservative Democrat” running to the right of Straus. Trapilo has been endorsed by some prominent local business leaders such as restaurateur Steve Silverstein, and by the Massachusetts Coalition of Police.
Trapilo has criticized Straus for his opposition to the repeal of the state gas tax and for his support of the Police Reform Bill passed in the wake of the George Floyd protests in 2020.
Straus has touted endorsements of the overwhelming majority of the municipal elected officials in his district and recently the endorsement of the expected soon-to-be Governor Healey.
“Bill Straus has been a great partner and leader in expanding access to public transportation, repairing our roads and bridges, and driving our economy forward,” Healey said. “He is a strong advocate for the SouthCoast and I am proud to endorse him in his campaign for re-election.”
Early voting for the state primary has begun and runs until Friday, September 2. Election day is on Tuesday, September 6. You can find your polling place here.
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