Politics

Ben Downing drops out of Massachusetts governor’s race, citing ‘painful’ financial reality

"We simply do not have the financial resources to continue."

Ben Downing. Courtesy of the Downing campaign

The first candidate into the Massachusetts gubernatorial race is also the first candidate out of it.

Ben Downing, a former state senator from Western Massachusetts who declared his candidacy for governor in February, announced Tuesday that he is dropping out of the 2022 race, saying his campaign hadn’t raised enough money to carry on.

“Unfortunately, we simply do not have the financial resources to continue,” Downing said in a statement released by his campaign Tuesday morning. “While it’s painful to admit, that reality has brought this chapter to a close.”

According to campaign finance filings, Downing had raised $442,173.97 over the first 10 months of this Democratic primary. Since the end of June, his campaign spending had outpaced its fundraising, leaving the 40-year-old candidate with just $32,752.54 to spend, with nine months to go until the September primary.

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Downing’s decision leaves two fellow Democrats in the race: Harvard political scientist Danielle Allen and state Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz, who have $386,270 and $198,311 in their campaign bank accounts, respectively. Both thanked Downing on Tuesday for his contributions to the race and over the course of his career.

Attorney General Maura Healey, who is expected to announce whether she’ll join the field of Democratic gubernatorial candidates “soon,” also praised Downing for his “bold ideas and inspired leadership” on Tuesday.

“I know this is far from the end of your service to MA,” Healey tweeted.

In the wake of Republican Gov. Charlie Baker’s decision not to run for a third term, the GOP primary currently has one major candidate: Donald Trump-endorsed former state representative Geoff Diehl.

A longtime advocate of renewable energy, Downing — who now lives in East Boston — had campaigned on accelerating the state’s efforts to combat climate change, universal child care, and free public transit across Massachusetts — paid for with taxes aimed at wealthier residents.

In his statement Tuesday, he said Massachusetts is “prosperous … for far too few” and “falling far short” on defining issues like the climate crisis, despite having “everything we need to solve the big problems facing us.”

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“It is not a single political party that stands in the way, but a culture of complacency that too often prioritizes the comfort of those in power over addressing the challenges of those in need,” Downing said.

“Until that dynamic changes, our work is not done and you’ll find me standing shoulder to shoulder with anyone striving to build a Massachusetts that works for everyone, everywhere.”

Read Downing’s full statement below:

For everything there is a season. For this campaign, that season has come to a close. Today, I am formally ending my bid to become the next Governor of Massachusetts.

I do so with a heavy heart, but also with hope, and gratitude beyond measure. Over the last 10 months, friends and neighbors, old and new, have opened their homes and hearts to my campaign. Together, we built a coalition that lifted up the voices of those too often ignored. We came up with real solutions to meet the challenges facing Massachusetts families and reshape our shared future. In a year that took a lot out of all of us, we grew stronger at the broken places. I have seen the best of Massachusetts, alongside the deep need for more urgent, empathetic leadership. I have learned and grown. For all of that, I cannot say thank you enough. Unfortunately, we simply do not have the financial resources to continue. While it’s painful to admit, that reality has brought this chapter to a close.

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Just as my work and my responsibility as a citizen did not end when I term limited myself in the Senate, the work of this campaign does not end today. Though my name will not be on the ballot next year, I will keep working for the principles that defined this campaign. Massachusetts is prosperous, but we must ask “for whom?” and reckon with the reality that the answer is for far too few. Massachusetts is innovative, but we must ask “to what end?” and reckon with the fact that we are falling far short on the defining issues of this generation—most notably the climate crisis. We have everything we need to solve the big problems facing us. It is not a single political party that stands in the way, but a culture of complacency that too often prioritizes the comfort of those in power over addressing the challenges of those in need. Until that dynamic changes, our work is not done and you’ll find me standing shoulder to shoulder with anyone striving to build a Massachusetts that works for everyone, everywhere.

To everyone who made this possible – thank you. To the team who encouraged, inspired, and challenged me every single day, this was an incredible adventure. Thanks to you. To the friends, family and supporters who fueled us over the last year, you were a constant source of strength in a year marked by uncertainty and change. And to Micaelah, thank you for being you and loving me, on the good days and the bad. I wouldn’t be able to do anything without you.

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For now, I am off to chase Mac and Eamon. When they tucker themselves out, know I will be right there with you as we chase the Massachusetts we all want to live in, the Massachusetts we know is possible.

Danielle Allen’s statement on Downing’s decision to end his candidacy:

Good politics starts from a good heart. Ben Downing has embodied that truth throughout his campaign and over the course of his career in Massachusetts politics. I thank Ben for his extraordinary leadership to build change in our Commonwealth — from carrying the message that the status quo is not an option, to fighting tirelessly to address the climate crisis, to working to ensure Western Mass residents have a strong voice in our state government. While Ben is leaving the governor’s race, I know he will keep fighting on behalf of Massachusetts families as he always has, and I look forward to working alongside him to create the transformation our state deserves.

Sonia Chang-Diaz’s statement on Downing’s decision to end his candidacy:

Ben Downing has been a champion for people across Massachusetts throughout his whole career, and he’s carried that into this race for Governor every day. It’s been my privilege to work alongside Ben over the years, including fighting arm in arm for LGBTQ rights in the State Senate over a decade ago. I’m grateful for his continued bold work and leadership on solar energy and climate change, and most recently for raising up critical issues of justice and equity on the campaign trail. It’s been an honor to be in this race with him, and I’m grateful to call him my friend.

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