William Galvin wins Democratic nomination for secretary of state

Galvin has held the position since 1995.

Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin speaks to the Annual Greater Boston Labor Council Breakfast on Monday, Labor Day, Sept. 5, 2022 at the Park Plaza Hotel in Boston. AP Photo/Josh Reynolds

William Galvin won the Democratic nomination for secretary of state in the 2022 primary as he vies for his eighth term in office, AP reported.

Longtime secretary of state Galvin, 71, faced a primary challenge from Tanisha Sullivan, 48, a lawyer and president of the Boston branch of the NAACP. Sullivan has never held political office. The election signified whether Massachusetts Democrats wanted an established candidate — or a break from tradition.

Galvin garnered 72% of the vote, with 54% of the vote reported. Sullivan, with 28%, conceded shortly after.

“It’s a testament to the importance that voters see in elections administration,” Galvin said in a phone interview with The Boston Globe Tuesday night. “It’s also a challenge for the future. I have to make this term better than all the others, and I intend to. There’s so much more at stake.”

The Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth is the state’s top election official and is also responsible for state documents such as census counts, deeds, business registration, and historical and public records. The position is viewed as primarily administrative in nature, but this election has prompted conversation about if and how the office should evolve.


Sullivan’s campaign primarily focused on using the position’s power to fight for social issues, while Galvin’s centered around his years of experience in facilitating elections. That very experience has been a major selling point for Galvin — a recent poll cited by The Boston Globe showed that Galvin has 66 percent name recognition among Massachusetts voters, and garnered over $2 million for his campaign. 

Sullivan worked off substantially smaller resources — she had just over $160,000 at the start of August, according to the Globe — but her message as a civil rights leader resonated with progressive voters. Sullivan gained the support of the Massachusetts Democratic Party at the state convention in June, as well as endorsements from politicians like Rep. Ayanna Presley.

Boston, MA 08/21/22 Tanisha Sullivan, candidate for secretary of the commonwealth, stops by the cookout for Boston Union Trade Sisters (B.U.T.S.), on Castle Island. – Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff

“Our campaign may be ending today, but our work to protect our democracy — to strengthen our communities — continues,” Sullivan said in a concession statement to Boston.com. “I’m grateful for the opportunity to share our vision, and while we came up short this evening, we stood tall on issues that matter. Together, we helped voters understand this office and showed what is possible with proactive leadership in this office, and our work continues.”


The candidates sparred in two fiery debates, with Galvin criticizing Sullivan’s lack of experience while Sullivan attacked Galvin on his record as secretary.

Notably, Sullivan criticized Galvin’s stance on reproductive rights, calling him “anti-abortion” in an Aug. 8 debate. Galvin denied these accusations, pointing to reproductive rights legislation he signed into law in response.

Galvin is set to face unopposed Republican Rayla Campbell, who has made history as the first Black woman to make Massachusetts’ statewide ballot as a candidate for secretary of state.


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