If Secretary of the Commonwealth Bill Galvin wins reelection in November, the question is this: Will he seek a ninth term in 2026?
Galvin coasted through his eighth successful Democratic primary Tuesday night, besting Massachusetts NAACP President Tanisha Sullivan. If he wins against Republican Rayla Campbell in November, he’ll be on his way to serving a total 31 years in the post.
The mood at his victory party, held at his longtime-favorite restaurant the Stockyard in Brighton, reflected a candidate who’s won every single one of his elections over the past 27 years. Folks were joyful, but not in a way that was going to attract noise complaints from neighbors.
The gathering, which officially began around 6:30 p.m., saw its first string of guests trickle in closer to 9 p.m., after Galvin’s win was already secured. The group consisted of 20-or-so family members, campaign workers and longtime supporters, all of whom were quick to express gratitude for their candidate’s decades of public service.
“I worked for Bill Galvin when he was a state representative, about 40 years ago. And even then he was a guy that was super smart, super hard-working, and respected by everyone,” said Peter Koutoujian, former State Representative and current sheriff of Middlesex County.
“I always remembered being proud of the fact that I worked for a person that was respected by everyone throughout the State House.”
Throughout the 2022 campaign, critics of the establishment candidate framed his extended tenure as a roadblock to progressive change. But patrons of the Stockyard victory party disagreed, and were quick to tout Galvin's breadth of experience as a boon rather than a detriment.
"I’ve known Bill forever, I mean for a long time — over 20 years in politics,” said one woman, who asked not to be named. “He’s a smart guy and he doesn’t back down and he sticks up for his neighborhood like nobody out there.”
During his victory speech before the small crowd, Galvin spoke on the urgency of the Secretary’s job in this present political moment, and his duty to protect the integrity of elections ahead of the 2024 races.
“We have a challenge ahead of us in 2024, obviously, irrespective of who the nominees are for president. What’s clearly going to be on the ballot is the integrity of the electoral process and democracy itself. And that’s the challenge that we’re confronting going ahead.”
Meanwhile, in a separate interview with GBH News, Galvin highlighted same-day voting as a top priority for his next term, should he win in November.
“I wanna get it done. I think it’s the final challenge for us in Massachusetts, to make sure that we have every opportunity to get people registered to vote when they want to register.”
Every one of the people interviewed told GBH News that they’d support Galvin for a ninth term, were he to run. Asked if that was a possibility, Galvin was less assured.
“I doubt it, but I don’t know,” Galvin deadpanned. “I don’t think so — but as I said to somebody else who asked me the question, maybe I'll run for something else.”
Tanisha Sullivan’s supporters cheered as she walked through the door of a Hyde Park restaurant, celebrating her campaign. Though Sullivan, the first Black woman to run for Massachusetts Secretary of State, did not clinch the nomination, the enthusiasm was palpable.
Sullivan told GBH News that she was most proud of her campaign’s transparency and how it helped inform the public about what being Secretary of State actually entails.
“We’ve been able to help educate people on this office and helping them understand it’s more than elections,” said Sullivan. “This office has responsibility for helping to advance our economy, the office has responsibility for helping to create a more transparent government.”
Roubbins Jamal LaMont, a 40-year-old supporter from Malden, echoed that idea, saying he had never known what the position’s duties were until Sullivan’s campaign. That, and the on-the-ground effort to speak with marginalized communities, were his reasons for voting for Sullivan.
“Just being able to talk to the candidate, to engage with the candidate, versus just seeing them from afar gives a more personal feel to it,” said LaMont, who was able to speak to Sullivan at a Somerville campaign event.
Sullivan has not ruled out a future in politics.
“The fact of the matter is, our democracy is in crisis, and we need leadership here in Massachusetts and across the country that is bold, that is proactive, and that is filled with hope and belief in what is possible,” said Sullivan. “That's not going away for me. And so I look forward to continuing this journey, continuing to work alongside folks in our communities, continuing to work alongside elected officials across the Commonwealth.”
Sullivan’s supporters were eager for her to get back on the campaign trail.
“She’s got the energy, she’s got the drive,” said 70-year-old Vivian Woo of Roxbury. “She’s just getting started.”