BUMP BACKS GONZALEZ, SAYS GOV. BAKER "NOT INVINCIBLE"
By Matt Murphy
STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE
STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, MAY 21, 2018....Auditor Suzanne Bump, one of four statewide Democratic elected officials on Beacon Hill, threw her support to former state budget chief Jay Gonzalez on Monday, choosing sides in a two-way primary contest for governor as Democrats prepare to gather in Worcester in two weeks.
In choosing Gonzalez over progressive climate change activist Bob Massie, Bump becomes a potentially influential ally in rallying party insiders to Gonzalez's camp ahead of the June 1-2 Democratic Party Convention.
Gonzalez and Massie are both expected to win the requisite number of voting delegates at the convention to secure a spot on the September primary ballot, but winning the convention's endorsement could give one of the candidates a boost in name recognition and among Democratic donors, many of whom have been sitting on the sidelines.
"I want the Democrats that are heading to the convention in two weeks to understand that Charlie Baker is not invincible and that we can stand for visionary leadership, combined with competence, in state government," Bump told the News Service.
Bump's decision to insert herself into the party primary is slightly unusual as most elected party leaders typically shy away from getting involved in primary races. The other statewide elected Democrats – Attorney General Maura Healey, Treasurer Deb Goldberg and Secretary of State William Galvin – have not yet taken sides in the gubernatorial primary, and may not at all.
Bump, however, said that it could boost the party's standing looking ahead to the general election against Baker if Gonzalez can emerge from the convention as the "clear winner."
"I want to draw attention to Jay's candidacy, particularly for Democrats headed to the convention, but also generally and show we can do better," Bump said.
A letter from Bump is expected to be sent out Monday afternoon by the Gonzalez campaign to its supporter list. Bump is also expected to be making phone calls to delegates in the run-up to the convention.
The Democratic field for governor winnowed to two last month when former Newton Mayor Setti Warren withdrew from the race, citing fundraising challenges. Warren has not endorsed since ending his campaign, and Warren delegates elected during party caucuses early this year will be up for grabs.
At the first general debate of the primary last week, Gonzalez and Massie showcased little daylight between the two on the issues, but sought to distinguish themselves from one another based on experience.
While Massie referred to himself as a "movement leader" who could inspire the state to tackle the vexing challenges like climate change and disruptive technologies, Gonzalez pitched himself as someone with state government experience best positioned to pull the levels of power on Beacon Hill and deliver on a progressive agenda.
Gonzalez's experience, Bump said, is part of the reason she was drawn to Gonzalez's candidacy. The two worked together in the early years of Bump's first term when Gonzalez was working as Gov. Deval Patrick's budget secretary.
"He isn't afraid to be bold and to respond to hard questions with intelligence and candor. He's firm in his values and principles and having worked with him when I was in my first few years as auditor I appreciate his managerial competence and his political savvy," Bump said.
Asked if there was anything about Massie or his platform that turned her off, she said, "I think that Jay has the kind of on-the-ground, hands-on expertise to win and then to govern effectively."
Thousands of Democrats will descend on Worcester's DCU Center on June 1 and June 2 to determine who qualifies for the ballot in September and who should win the party's endorsement.
While endorsements don't always translate to electoral success, this year it could give the winner a jolt in what has been a slow-to-develop race on the Democratic side where donors have not stepped forward in the same way as they have in the past.
"It has been hard for some people to get enthused since every story that the media tells about Charlie Baker reminds the public that he is popular, the most popular governor in the country," Bump said. "Elective office should not just be a popularity contest. We should be looking for something more than likability."
On Baker, she added, "It's easy to be likable when you stand for nothing."
Bump said she thought the convention would be an important weekend for the party to realize that, despite Baker's popularity in poll-after-poll, he could be vulnerable in November.
"I think it will help for Democrats to come together and feel the excitement that Jay can generate and to emerge from the convention with a firm conviction that not only can we elect Jay Gonzalez, but we should elect Jay Gonzalez," she said.
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