Politics

The 2022 race for Massachusetts attorney general, explained

It's democrat Andrea Campbell vs. republican Jay McMahon.

Republican Jay McMahon and Democrat Andrea Campbell in a WBZ-TV debate for state attorney general moderated by Jon Keller (center). (WBZ-TV)

On Nov. 8, Massachusetts voters will decide who should fill the shoes left by Attorney General Maura Healey, who is running for Massachusetts governor.

Voters have two choices: Healey’s own chosen successor, democrat and former Boston City Councilor Andrea Campbell, and republican Jay McMahon, a conservative Cape Cod trial lawyer.

Here’s what you need to know before the election:

Andrea Campbell, candidate for Attorney General, greets supporters during a canvassing event at America’s Food Basket in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Boston, MA on September 03, 2022. – Craig F. Walker/Boston Globe

Campbell on the issues

As attorney general, Campbell says she plans to:

  • Focus on community-based crime prevention
  • Step up enforcement of and strengthen Massachusetts gun laws
  • Create a Police Accountability Unit to ensure trust in law enforcement, promote accountability, and end discriminatory policing and incarceration practices
  • End life sentences without the possibility of parole and qualified immunity for police officers
  • Protect legal abortion in Mass. and expand access to reproductive healthcare
  • Create a Reproductive Justice Unit to protect abortion and gender affirming healthcare providers
  • Promote affordable housing and hold landlords accountable for unfair housing practices
  • Hold drug companies accountable for their role in the opioid crisis and ensure equitable access to substance abuse treatment
  • Ensure local law enforcement isn’t working with ICE and enforce anti-discrimination laws that protect people of color, immigrants, LGBTQ+ people, and others
  • Prevent and penalize illegal dumping of toxic chemicals
  • Litigate against predatory student loan and home mortgage practices
  • Create an Elder Justice Unit focuses on combatting elder abuse, fraud, and neglect
Jay McMahon – Jay McMahon for Attorney General

McMahon on the issues

As attorney general, McMahon says he plans to:

  • Protect life and property by prosecuting “woke renegade mobs”
  • Abolish sanctuary cities
  • Protect freedom of speech and support parents challenging school curriculums
  • Support the right to refuse medical treatments and vaccines
  • Sue organizations that fire people for not following mask and vaccine mandates
  • Investigate corruption at all levels of state and local government
  • Investigate claims of election fraud
  • Prosecute drug traffickers
  • Protect the right to own a gun
  • Seek funding for rehabilitation of opioid addicts
  • Encourage the hiring of more police officers in “troubled” communities

The attorney general’s race so far

As McMahon ran unopposed on the republican side, the hotly contested democratic primary has been the focus for the majority of the race.

Class action lawyer Shannon Liss-Riordan was the first to enter the race for attorney general, kicking off her campaign at the end of January. But former assistant attorney general Quention Palfrey and Campbell soon joined the fray.

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Throughout the spring and summer, the three sparred over election funding, safe consumption sites, progressive accolades, and who did and didn’t have adequate legal experience to take on the job of attorney general.

Over the summer, Campbell emerged as the frontrunner in the race, picking up not just Healey’s endorsement, but also that of power players such as Rep. Ayanna Pressley, Planned Parenthood, and big local labor unions.

But then, just a week before the September primary, the field narrowed when Palfrey dropped out of the race and endorsed Campbell.

With Palfrey gone, the race got tighter as Liss-Riordan spent more of her own money on ads and received powerful progressive endorsements from the likes of Boston Mayor Michelle Wu and Sen. Elizabeth Warren in an effort to catch up to Campbell.

A poll released just four days before the primary showed the impact of these developments, finding that the two candidates were just one percentage point apart.

In the end, Campbell emerged with a decisive victory, garnering more than 73,000 votes while Liss-Riordan raked in 56,000.

Since then, a mid-September poll showed Campbell leading McMahon 50 points to 24 points, and a mid-October poll showed her leading by 20 points.

By mid-September, Campbell had also raked in $22,000 more in campaign funds than McMahon.

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In September, McMahon challenged Campbell to a whopping seven debates. So far, only one debate has taken place, which you can watch here.

It will be hard work for McMahon to turn this race around, but voters will have the final say on Nov. 8.

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