TL;DR: Start thinking about what you want in a progressive governor, and start questioning and pressuring candidates and prospective candidates before committing.
One year from now, Democrats across the state will have elected delegates to go to the state party convention where gubernatorial candidates will vie with each other for the party’s endorsement.
The primary field is not settled yet—there’s some time to go, and candidates may yet emerge.
But, already, candidates and prospective candidates have begun listening tours--speaking at local caucuses, at house parties, at activist events.
When the field is settled, Progressive Massachusetts will invite all candidates to fill out our detailed candidate questionnaire, as we did in 2014. (questionnaires from past races are here.)
We will ask tough questions about where they stand on the key elements of our Progressive Platform--shared prosperity, racial and social justice, open government and strong democracy, and sustainable infrastructure and environmental protection--and the Legislative Agenda that seeks to translate principles into policy.
And once they fill out those questionnaires, YOU--our grassroots members--will get to vet them and get to decide whom we endorse.
No smoke-filled rooms, just grassroots democracy.
But, the member endorsement is still a way off.
In the interim -- what can you do to strengthen the field and ensure the boldest progressive platform is being talked about at every coffee, every house party?
SOME IDEAS --
We want them to understand that a progressive message is the winning one.
So get the candidates (and prospective candidates) on record about the issues that matter.
Ask them tough questions, don't accept evasions, and see if those answers hold when they go before different crowds.
Charlie Baker has managed to coast with high approval ratings because the Legislature tries to minimize conflict, avoiding taking votes on anything he might veto and showering him with praise for small-bore accomplishments. But if we are to have a chance of defeating Baker next year, then we need to be drawing a clear contrast with an inspiring and affirmative progressive policy agenda. Not being Charlie, not being a Republican simply isn't enough.
So what should you be asking declared and prospective candidates if you encounter them on a listening tour. Here are some ideas:
Charlie Baker doesn't stand with us in wanting to make the minimum wage a living wage of $15 an hour. Do you?
Charlie Baker doesn't stand with us in wanting to guarantee paid family and medical leave. Do you?
Charlie Baker doesn't stand with us in wanting to guarantee health care as a right through a Medicare for All system. Do you?
Charlie Baker doesn't stand with us in wanting to invest in our public schools to give all students the best opportunities we can. Do you?
Charlie Baker doesn't stand with us in wanting to make public higher education tuition-free. Do you?
Charlie Baker doesn't stand with us in wanting comprehensive changes to our criminal justice system to end mass incarceration and inhumane practices like solitary confinement. Do you?
Charlie Baker doesn't stand with us in wanting to protect our immigrant family, friends, and neighbors by preventing the use of state resources for a mass deportation regime. Do you?
Charlie Baker doesn't stand with us in wanting to expand voting rights through things like automatic voter registration and Election Day registration. Do you?
Charlie Baker doesn't stand with us in wanting to aggressively shift away from a fossil fuel-based economy to one powered by renewables like solar and wind. Do you?
Charlie Baker doesn't stand with us in wanting to raise the revenue needed to upgrade and expand our public transit system. Do you?
A contested primary can give YOU, the voter, leverage--but only if you use it. No candidate is owed your vote. Public servants work for you, and anyone running for such an office should have to work for your vote.
And when all Democratic candidates are arguing about who's the bolder progressive, and not who's friendlier to some supposed centrist ideal, that's when we will have a policy debate worth having.