Women led a parade of triumphs Tuesday in Massachusetts, winning a historic number of state offices and capturing political territory long dominated by men.
For the first time, Massachusetts voters elected a female — and openly gay — governor in Maura Healey; an all-woman gubernatorial team in Healey and Kim Driscoll; a Black woman as attorney general in Andrea Campbell; and a Democratic woman to all but one of the state’s top offices.
“Representation matters,” said state Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier, D-Pittsfield, who will continue to serve as the Berkshires’ only female representative on Beacon Hill. “We are working towards the goal of creating a representative government, and this is a terrific milestone.”
Tuesday’s midterm ballot saw seven women from both major parties run for statewide office. Secretary of State William Galvin defeated Republican candidate Rayla Campbell to win an eighth term, making him the only man to win a statewide office this year. Democratic women won the other five constitutional offices, increasing the total number of women who have been elected to a statewide executive role in Massachusetts by about 50 percent.
Despite its reputation as a deep blue state, Massachusetts has dawdled when it comes to creating equal representation for women in politics. According to data collected by the Center for American Women and Politics, Massachusetts ranks 29th among state legislatures for its proportion of women in office.
Just 20 years ago, the commonwealth had yet to elect a woman as governor, attorney general, or even a U.S. senator. This all began to change when Martha Coakley became the first woman elected attorney general in Massachusetts in 2006. Since then, the state has seen the likes of Elizabeth Warren, Boston Mayor Michelle Wu and former state House Majority Leader Claire Cronin elected to higher office.
Healey shattered yet another key gender barrier by becoming the first woman elected Massachusetts governor, but she is not the first to be governor. Jane Swift was elected lieutenant governor and was made acting governor in 2001 after then-Gov. Paul Cellucci resigned to become the country’s ambassador to Canada.
While Healey’s role has already proved historic for the commonwealth, her groundbreaking campaign resonates nationwide as she is poised to become the first openly lesbian governor in the U.S.
In a victory address delivered Tuesday night, Healey spoke directly to young girls and LGBTQ youth.
“I hope tonight shows you that you can be whatever, whoever, you want to be,” she said. “And nothing and no one can get in your way except your own imagination.”
Despite the historic step for women in state offices this election cycle, Jesse Mermell, who ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 2020, told WBUR last month that women are still significantly underrepresented in local public offices.
“What happens on Nov. 8 cannot be the end of this story,” she said.
Farley-Bouvier echoed that statement, saying that the commonwealth still has a long way to go in achieving equitable representation.
“While this is a terrific milestone,” said Farley-Bouvier, “we have still not achieved the goal. And we won’t have achieved our goal until we have a government that represents what Massachusetts looks like.”