2018 Legislative Primaries

Elections matter. Our ability to make progressive change in Massachusetts depends on our electing progressive champions to office -- every office.

In particular, primaries matter. Whether you're electing ousting a conservative or passive incumbent (of either party) or electing a real champion in an open seat (replacing a retiring one or getting a real progressive upgrade), primaries can send a powerful message.

Massachusetts's state primary is Tuesday, September 4th. Help us send such a message.

Over the past couple of months, we've been inviting candidates to fill out our comprehensive policy questionnaire -- a vital tool for informing voters and for holding politicians accountable. Our Election and Endorsement Committee reviews them and then chooses whether to make a recommendation to our members, the ultimate deciders. We set a high bar for endorsements; candidates must earn at least 60% of our members' votes.

These candidates below all reached that high bar. Congratulations to our endorsees!

State Senate

State House

State Senate

First Middlesex: John Drinkwater


John Drinkwater has spent his entire career promoting social and economic justice through the Labor Movement. He joined the Massachusetts AFL-CIO, an umbrella organization for over 700 local unions, in 2006 and served the organization in a variety of roles before being named Legislative Director in 2014. In addition to representing the interests of working people at the State House, he also plays a key role in the Massachusetts AFL-CIO’s political field program which helps to elect pro-worker candidates to office. John has been a part of legislative coalitions that have successfully passed into law: a $15 minimum wage, Paid Family and Medical Leave, workplace protections for temp agency workers, the Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights, expanded health and safety standards for public sector workers, and gender-neutral parental leave rights. 

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Hampshire, Franklin & Worcester: Chelsea Kline


Chelsea Kline is a higher education leader and social justice advocate running for State Senate to be a strong progressive voice for Western Massachusetts' working families, local businesses, and underrepresented communities. When she became a low-income single mom at 19, Chelsea juggled multiple jobs and relied on food stamps to make sure her daughter wouldn't go hungry. She was able to succeed not only because she worked hard, but because of public investments in the social safety net and community college. Now, as the social safety net continues to fray, Chelsea is channeling her leadership experience and her 25 years as an activist and organizer into her run for State Senate. She is running on progressive issues, such as Medicare for All, 100% renewable energy, and full funding for public education from Pre-K through higher education, and strongly believes we need bold leadership in the legislature to achieve this vision. 

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Norfolk, Bristol & Middlesex: Becca Rausch


The granddaughter of a Holocaust survivor and the daughter of an activist, Becca Rausch has a life-long commitment to progressive values and social justice. Becca is an elected Needham Town Meeting Member, attorney who has practiced in both the public and private sectors, dedicated community leader, union steward, spouse, and parent of two young kids. Becca has the skills and experience at both the state and local levels of government to be an effective voice in the MA State Senate starting on her first day in office. She believes communities are stronger when progressive social policies are implemented by a transparent and accountable government. She plans to fight for universal health care, innovative and evidenced-based methods of addressing the opioid epidemic, transportation equity, strong public education with healthy learning environments and well-rounded curricula, meaningful voting rights and access, and policies that make government work for working families. 

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Second Essex & Middlesex: Mike Armano


Mike Armano is a proud member of the Lawrence Firefighters Local 146. Mike is a third-generation civil servant, with experience working with some of our most vulnerable populations as a coach, counselor, and substitute teacher. After attending Mass School of Law and starting his own law practice, he followed in his father’s footsteps eight years later and was hired as a firefighter. He graduated from the Mass Fire Academy while earning his EMT license and pursuing his master’s degree in Public Administration. Today, Mike supports legislative initiatives as a delegate to the Professional Firefighters of Massachusetts, and works with city officials and community leaders as the Lieutenant of Fire Prevention in Lawrence, Massachusetts. As a state senator, he will fight the expansion of charter schools and is committed to fully funding public education in Massachusetts. 

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Hampden: Amaad Rivera


Amaad Rivera is a former Policy Advisor to Senator Ed Markey, a role through which he brought the voices and values of Western MA to bear on issues like health care, climate change, and proper funding for important regional transportation projects. When he served as a Springfield City Councilor, he stopped unfair foreclosures and creeping blight that was affecting our community, by leading the effort that gave the city the tools to stand up to greedy lenders. As a person raised by a single mother, he knows firsthand  how community support and government investments can change people's lives and is running to help make that difference for people across the district and combat the growing wealth and income inequality of the region.

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Fifth Middlesex: Sam Hammar


Sam Hammar is an experienced public servant, activist, and family woman, whose passion and life experiences have covered the gamut–from teaching and tech to advocating for women and families. Born in New England and raised along the East Coast, Sam has watched her single mom juggle three jobs to provide for her family and her dad struggle as a business owner while managing a chronic illness. Sam spent most of her career in public service—whether in the Boston Public Schools, Boston City Hall, or state government. She recently served on the Women’s Commission, where she fought for affordable and accessible childcare. She also served as the Chair of the Melrose Democratic City Committee. She and her husband have twin daughters who attend kindergarten in public school. Sam believes we need new voices on Beacon Hill to get us the progress we deserve. 

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State House of Representatives

1st Barnstable: Steven Leibowitz


Steven Leibowitz has been active in his community since being elected a town meeting member in Amherst as a Freshman to his work the past 23 years on Cape Cod. He's served on the Brewster School Committee, Brewster Affordable Housing Partnership, and the board of Protect Our Cape Cod Aquifer. Steve chaired the Brewster Democratic Town Committee for 6 years, was elected twice to the Democratic National Convention as an Obama and Sanders delegate and currently is a member of the Democratic State Committee. He's running to replace Republican Tim Whelan and would be a strong voice for economic fairness and open, engaged government. 

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2nd Bristol: Jim Hawkins


Since his upset victory in April’s special election, Jim Hawkins has hit the ground running on Beacon Hill. He came to the State House with a history of community engagement and advocacy. In 1999, he was recognized by the National Society of Fundraising Professionals as a partner in philanthropy for his successful fundraising efforts and years of delivering food to the homeless. For twelve years, Jim taught math at Attleboro High School (AHS) and recruited tutors for homeless and disadvantaged students. During his time as a teacher at AHS, Jim founded the Rome Boulevard Road Race, which delivers much-needed funds to student programs at the school. More recently, he was a District Coordinator for the Massachusetts Teacher Association, fighting for the quality public education on which our Commonwealth depends.

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14th Essex: Christina Minicucci


Christina Minicucci is a community activist in North Andover who understands that democracy is not a spectator sport. She currently serves as Vice-Chair of the North Andover School Building Committee, member of the Master Plan Advisory Committee, and the Expo Coordinator for the Feaster Five Road Race. Christina is also an active member of the North Andover Parent Advisory Council (NAPAC), her local Boy Scout Troop, and the Merrimack Valley Striders running club, as well as a former member of the YWCA Board of Directors and a sexual assault hotline advocate. She looks forward to being a strong advocate for investing in our public schools, addressing the affordable housing crisis, and promoting equitable economic development for the region.

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1st Hampshire: Lindsay Sabadosa


Lindsay Sabadosa is an activist with a proven track record of advocating for concrete legislation at the State House. She is currently running for State Representative for the 1st Hampshire District, which represents Northampton, Hatfield, Southampton, Westhampton and Montgomery. She’s a mother, legal and financial translator, runner, and lifelong community organizer. She is the Director of the Pioneer Valley Women’s March, serves on the board of Emerge Massachusetts and the Abortion Rights Fund of Western Massachusetts, and sits on statewide organizing committees for progressive legislation like Medicare for All and the Safe Communities Act. Her progressive platform includes single-payer healthcare, education funding reform, 100% green energy, East-West/North-South rail, reproductive rights, immigrants' rights, criminal justice reform, and other progressive legislation

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2nd Hampshire: Marie McCourt


Marie McCourt is a dedicated community activist in Granby. Having grown up in a struggling family, she has made a point in her career to create opportunities for others. She currently works as an assistant program director for a grant-funded afterschool program, and it is through this work that she got involved in politics. She currently serves on the executive board and works as a volunteer for Neighbors Helping Neighbors, Inc., a client-choice pantry that serves South Hadley and Granby residents dealing with food insecurity. She will be an enthusiastic champion of increasing our investment in public education, increasing access to medical care, and improving our elder and disability services so that everyone can thrive. 

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6th Middlesex: Maria Robinson


Maria Robinson is running for State Representative in the 6th Middlesex District of Massachusetts. A former Town Meeting member, Maria is a clean energy policy expert and advocate, who has spent the last decade helping state policymakers and public officials throughout the country to address climate change through renewable energy and energy efficiency policies. Maria is an MIT graduate and the child of public servants and union members, who taught her the value of hard work and giving back to her community. Maria serves on the board of the Framingham Public Library Foundation, the Friends of the Framingham Library, and is a member of the Framingham Democratic Committee. Maria lives in Framingham with her husband, their two foster (soon-to-be-adopted!) children ages 10 and 12, her parents, and their lively dog Guinness. 

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15th Middlesex: Mary Ann Stewart


Mary Ann Stewart is a community activist and member of the Lexington Democratic Town Committee. Since 2006, she has been a member of Lexington Town Meeting and the League of Women Voters of Lexington. She is a working parent who came up through the school site council and PTA, was elected twice to Lexington's School Committee, and was appointed by Governor Deval Patrick to the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. She has spent countless hours pounding the pavement for workers’ rights and fair and adequate revenue; tirelessly meeting with parents and non-profit leaders, elected officials, and experts to hear their concerns, questions, and recommendations; and educating others on the issues. She looks forward to extending her leadership on these and other issues of critical importance to our families and our future. 

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19th Middlesex: Erika Johnson


Erika Johnson is a community activist in Wilmington and the chair of the Wilmington Democratic Committee. After graduating college with a political science degree, she worked in impact investing and then moved to the energy efficiency field, working to increase energy efficiency in residential applications and helping electrical distributors upgrade their customers to energy efficient lighting through rebates and incentives. She is running for office to fight for safe, well-funded quality public education; living wages for all; more affordable health care and higher education; and twenty-first-century infrastructure.

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23rd Middlesex: Sean Garballey


Sean Garballey is the representative of the 23rd Middlesex District, which includes parts of Arlington and Medford. He has served in the House since 2008, when he was one of the youngest to ever be elected to the body. Prior to his election, he served on the Arlington School Committee (2005 to 2008) and in the Arlington Town Meeting (2003-2008). At the State House, he has been a strong advocate for a single payer health care system, transitioning Massachusetts to 100% renewable energy, and increasing our investments in public transportation and public education.

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28th Middlesex: Gerly Adrien


Gerly Adrien ran for State Representative for the 28th Middlesex District as a first-time candidate in 2016 with no name recognition and fell just 600 votes short of winning. She is running again to continue the fight to improve education, economic development, and quality of life for the people of Everett. The oldest child of parents born in Haiti, Gerly moved to Everett in 1993 when she was 4 years old. Her parents instilled in her and her two brothers the importance of serving others, and she has carried that value with her wherever she has gone in life, whether working to advance teen empowerment, affordable housing, arts education, and public health. 

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30th Middlesex: Darryn Remillard


Darryn Remillard is a United States Marine Corps veteran and a veterinarian running on a strong progressive platform. He grew up poor and spent a significant period of his early childhood in the Washington, DC, foster care system. After high school, he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps and served for 8 years. The military provided him with many of the opportunities that he finds himself fighting for now: guaranteed healthcare for all, accessible and highly subsidized childcare, job security with consistent pay raises, and fully subsidized education. After leaving the Marines amidst disillusionment with the war effort in Iraq and Afghanistan, he went back to veterinary school. Now a father, he worries that a foster child today wouldn’t have the same opportunities he was able to have and intends to fight to change that. 

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36th Middlesex: Sabrina Heisey


Sabrina Heisey has lived in Dracut for 11 years with her husband (and now six children) and manages grants and budgets for scientific research at Children's Hospital. She is the founder of the Greater Lowell League of Women Voters, a director of the Dracut Mom's Group, a Girl Scout leader, and an elected member of the Dracut School Committee. Sabrina is running for State Rep in the 36th Middlesex District in MA and envisions a future for Massachusetts where schools are fairly and adequately funded, where our tax dollars are spent on the public good instead of corporate welfare, where LGBTQA+ people are afforded equal rights, where women and families have control over their reproductive health, and where Massachusetts strengthens its strict gun laws. 

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15th Norfolk: Tommy Vitolo


Tommy Vitolo is an environmental professional and a long-time progressive leader in his local legislature, the Brookline Town Meeting. A PhD engineer, Tommy works as an expert witness on behalf of government agencies and environmental organizations. He has served on a dozen town boards and committees, and is an elected member of the Brookline Democratic Town Committee and an elected Brookline Constable. He's authored and shepherded to passage progressive local legislation related to public schools, public health, diversity and inclusion, the environment, and public art in Brookline and looks forward to being a champion of these and other issues at the State House.

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7th Plymouth: Kevin Higgins


Growing up in a family faced with the challenges of addiction and financial hardship, Kevin Higgins was motivated early in life to dedicate his career to improving social and economic opportunities for working families. After watching his family lose their home as a result of predatory sub-prime mortgage lending, Kevin put himself through college, becoming a social worker in elder and disability services and later working as a union organizer. Since the start of his professional life, Kevin has been a strong advocate for the community's most vulnerable residents and has focused on expanding opportunity for individuals with disabilities, senior citizens, and working families. 

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9th Suffolk: Jon Santiago


Jon Santiago has spent his life in service to others. After college, Jon joined the Peace Corps, organizing sugarcane workers and immigrants in the Dominican Republic. A graduate of Yale School of Medicine, Jon now works and cares for underserved communities as an emergency medicine doctor at Boston Medical Center, the city’s safety net hospital. He is an active participant in neighborhood meetings, has knocked on thousands of doors for progressive causes, and sits on the boards of the South End Community Health Center, Friends of the South End Library, and the Puerto Rican Veterans Park. He is running for state representative to fight for a community where people can afford to live at any stage of their lives, where kids can go to quality schools and play outside on safe streets, where people can rely on efficient public transportation, and where bold action can be taken to address challenges from the opioid crisis to climate change. 

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15th Suffolk: Nika Elugardo


Nika Elugardo has over 20 years of experience in community and economic development with public, private, and nonprofit leaders in communities of color, including serving as Jamaica Plain Liaison and Senior Policy Advisor to Massachusetts Senator Sonia Chang-Díaz. Nika’s professional career helping nonprofit and business leaders work together to break injustice and open doors to opportunity began at the National Consumer Law Center in Boston. She later became founding Director of MassSaves, an economic justice collaborative jointly sponsored by community organizations and financial institutions. Nika earned her B.S. from MIT in Urban Planning, an MPP from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government with concentrations in political advocacy, leadership, and peace and security, and a J.D. from Boston University Law School with externships in tax law, human rights, and corporate social responsibility. Nika’s work experience, training as a lawyer and policy leader, progressive values, and passion for our District position her to be a bold, effective leader on Beacon Hill. 

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What's Next?

Learn More: You can read more about the candidates here. All endorsements are decided by our members.

Become a Member: There are more votes (and questionnaires) to come. Want to be able to vote on upcoming endorsements? Become a member at progressivemass.com/membership.

Take Action: Endorsements are best to the extent that they are put to work. We'll keep you posted over the next two months about how best to do that!

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Showing 4 reactions

commented 2018-08-07 13:08:57 -0400 · Flag
commented 2018-07-26 08:25:33 -0400 · Flag
What about Nika Elugardo? Rep Sanchez is hardly progressive in a progressive district.
commented 2018-07-12 17:18:46 -0400 · Flag
This is great to get to know the people that will become our legislatures.
published this page in 2018 Elections 2018-07-09 16:08:24 -0400
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