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State Sen. Lesser enters race for lieutenant governor in Massachusetts

State Sen. Eric Lesser from Longmeadow, Massachusetts.
Nik Nadeau
Creative Commons
State Sen. Eric Lesser from Longmeadow, Massachusetts.

State Sen. Eric Lesser of Longmeadow, Massachusetts, announced Tuesday he’s running for the Democratic nomination for Massachusetts lieutenant governor.

Lesser, 36, is in his fourth term and chairs the Economic Development Committee. Previously, he was a staffer in the Obama administration.

In an interview Tuesday, Lesser said he wants to help make Massachusetts an easier place to live for families.

"The cost of child care, the cost of housing or health care, the limits with transportation, I've got a record of four terms in the state senate really making real progress on those issues and I want to partner with our next governor to do that on a state level," Lesser said.

Lesser has pushed for expanded passenger rail service from the western part of Massachusetts to Boston. And, not surprisingly, he listed that as a priority should be become lieutenant governor.

"Rail, high speed rail, connecting Pittsfield and Springfield and Boston would help relieve the housing congestion in Boston and would connect western Mass to those high-paying jobs," Lesser said.

He is the second Democratic state senator from western Mass. to enter the lieutenant governor’s race. Adam Hinds of Pittsfield declared his candidacy last year. When asked about running against his colleague, Lesser leaned on his record, and mentioned his work on rail, and two economic development bills, including one intended to help small businesses when many were shutdown earlier in the pandemic.

As for Hinds, his campaign released a statement on Lesser’s candidacy, which touted his own experience and endorsements.

“From spending a decade working for the U.N. in the Middle East to leading local efforts to combat the opioid epidemic in Western Mass., Adam has spent his career bringing people together to confront some of our greatest challenges,” the statement said. “That’s why he’s been endorsed by nearly 30 elected officials, including 19 leaders from Hampden, Hampshire, Franklin, and Berkshire Counties."

Lesser’s entrance does shake up the Democratic contest. According to the state campaign finance data, he had a war chest of $651,000 as of the end of December. The next-closest was Hinds at $251,000. Businessman Brett Bero had $134,526 on hand as of the end of November with his December numbers yet to be posted to the Office of Campaign and Political Finance’s website as of Tuesday morning. Another candidate, State Rep. Tami Gouveia of Acton, reported having $17,835 as of the end of last month.

The lieutenant governor’s race continues to cause a ripple effect in the western Massachusetts legislative delegation. Shortly after Hinds declared his intentions, Democratic State Rep. Paul Mark of Peru announced he was pursuing vacated seat. And now Lesser’s decision to seek statewide office, will mean another new senator for the region. The newly vacated district includes parts of Springfield and Chicopee, as well as 10 other communities in Hampden, Hampshire and Worcester counties.

As for the gubernatorial race state Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz and Harvard professor Danielle Allen are the other Democratic candidates. There has been much speculation that state Attorney General Maura Healey could enter the contest. And U.S. Secretary of Labor, and former Boston Mayor Marty Walsh has deflected recent inquiries about whether he is interested in running for governor.

On the Republican side, former state representative Geoff Diehl is the lone declared candidate.

The two Republican incumbents, Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito both announced last month they would not seek respective third terms.

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