Incumbent Galvin faces Sullivan in Massachusetts’ secretary of state Democratic primary on Sept. 6

Incumbent William Galvin and Tanisha Sullivan are running in the Democratic primary for Massachusetts secretary of state on September 6, 2022. 

Galvin won his first term in 1994 and was re-elected six times before the 2022 election. In this period, he faced Democratic primary opposition twice. In the 2018 primary, he defeated Josh Zakim, 67% to 33%. 

According to Matt Stout of the Boston Globe, Galvin is “the only incumbent Democratic secretary of state being targeted within his own party.”

Galvin said his experience was important given the increased focus on elections, saying to the Boston Globe, “This is a critical time for democracy. That’s why I think I can provide a unique service. Probably the biggest shift is the national climate, the importance of elections. I believe I can continue to do it effectively. I don’t believe anyone else can [do it as well] at this point.”

Sullivan’s professional experience includes serving as the Chief Equity Office for Boston Public Schools, president of the Boston Branch of the NAACP, a corporate counsel for Sanofi Genzyme, and a fellow for CEO Action for Racial Equity. She said she would do more to promote voting among minority communities, saying at the state party convention, “Despite record voter turnout in 2020, hear me on this, voters from some of our most vulnerable communities still saw the lowest voter turnout across Massachusetts, leaving behind far too many voices…Simply put, Massachusetts needs a secretary of state who fights on the ground with us every day, fighting for the democracy we deserve.”

Sullivan received the Democratic Party’s official endorsement with the support of 62.4% of delegates at the state convention in June 2022. According to Colin A. Young of the State House News Service, Sullivan “was supported by more than 2,500 delegates while Galvin was backed by about 1,500 delegates.”

Young also wrote that “Galvin has lost at the party convention but then prevailed in the party primary three times previously: in 1990 when he ran for treasurer; in 1994 when he first ran for secretary of state; and in 2018 when the upstart campaign of Josh Zakim won the party’s endorsement before being crushed by Galvin when the contest extended beyond the most hardcore party insiders.”

Sullivan said she thought the state party convention endorsement was very important: “2020, in many respects, was a turning point for folks across the country and our understanding about just how important the office of secretary of state is. More people understand the critical role that this office has to play. And I believe that that’s going to make a difference. People are paying attention.”

Galvin said he wanted the support of party delegates at the convention but didn’t think it would decide the primary’s outcome, saying, “I’ve actually not been the endorsee of the convention on three different occasions and I’ve won by more every single time. So I guess I have a mixed opinion. I think the difference between now and four years ago is I think, more than ever before, people recognize the importance of secretary of state, not just here but everywhere in the country.”

Prior to the 2022 elections, the last Republican to serve as secretary of state in Massachusetts was Frederick Cook, who left office in 1949.

Additional reading:

Massachusetts Secretary of State

William Galvin (Secretary of the Commonwealth)

Tanisha Sullivan