Massachusetts Governor

Former state Sen. Ben Downing speaks Monday while standing on a footbridge at Constitution Beach in East Boston. Downing, who represented the Berkshires and much of Western Massachusetts from 2007-17, became the first Democrat to formally announce a run for Massachusetts governor in 2022.

The Massachusetts gubernatorial race officially has some Berkshire representation.

While Ben Downing now calls East Boston home, the first candidate to officially announce a 2022 bid for governor was raised in Pittsfield. Mr. Downing got his start in politics representing the Berkshires on Beacon Hill — in the state Senate seat now held by Adam G. Hinds — for a decade before passing up reelection in 2016 to work for Nexamp Inc., a Boston renewable energy company.

Mr. Downing certainly has his work cut out for him. Several other Democratic hopefuls are likely to throw their hat in the ring over the next year; Harvard University professor Danielle Allan has said she is exploring a run, and all eyes are on Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey. And while Gov. Charlie Baker hasn’t yet announced whether he’ll seek reelection, as one of the most popular governors in the country he would prove a formidable opponent for whoever emerges from the Democratic primary.

Those with eyes on the governor’s seat might smell blood in the water amid hiccups with the state’s vaccine rollout thus far, with the resultant frustration dinging Gov. Baker’s usually impressive approval rating a bit.

Nevertheless, Bay State political analysts say that either a Baker reelection bid or a run by Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito could prove an uphill battle for whoever emerges from the Democratic primary.

Whatever the success of Mr. Downing’s campaign, we welcome what will hopefully be some increased visibility to the lived experiences of those in Western Massachusetts, particularly the Berkshires, in this important statewide race.

Those in our neck of the woods too often feel dismissed, overlooked and underserved by the political machinery at the other end of the state. A Pittsfield native in the race for governor might just remind Beacon Hill that there are voters, families and issues west of Worcester, not to mention past the I-91 corridor that deserve attention, too.