NEW BEDFORD, Mass. (WPRI) — Attorney General Maura Healey made her first campaign stop in Southeastern Massachusetts as the Democratic nominee for governor on Thursday, promising that she won’t overlook the region if she secures Beacon Hill’s top job.
“It is a big state, and a state where every region deserves support,” Healey told reporters. “Frankly, there are some regions that have not received as much love and support as others. And we want to be an administration that addresses that.”
“Housing is a need across the state, transportation is a need across the state,” she said. “But each region and here in the South Coast, there are there own set of needs in terms of what needs to happen.”
Healey and her running mate for lieutenant governor, Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll, met up with New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell for a tour of the city’s waterfront where he talked up the city’s top-ranked fishing port and his hopes for the offshore wind industry.
“New Bedford is poised to be not only a national leader when it comes to offshore wind, but a global leader when it comes to offshore wind, and we want to do everything we can to support that economy and support a thriving, prosperous New Bedford,” Healey said. (She also noted that her uncle was a fisherman in Newburyport.)
Healey emphasized the need to make Massachusetts “affordable,” citing the soaring costs of essentials from housing and energy to child care. With the MBTA struggling, she also said the state needs “a functioning public transportation system.”
Mitchell expressed his enthusiastic support for the newly official Democratic ticket, saying he has worked with both of his fellow Democrats in their current jobs.
“I’m here to tell you, everybody here should support their candidacy because they’re going to be really good at their jobs, and much to New Bedford’s benefit,” Mitchell said.
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Healey faces Republican nominee Geoff Diehl, a former state representative who defeated Wrentham businessman Chris Doughty in the GOP primary on Tuesday. Healey has a huge financial advantage over Diehl to start the race, but on Wednesday he told reporters he wasn’t concerned about the money gap.
“I’m not bought off by special interests like Maura Healey,” Diehl said. “She’s got a lot of funding that comes from people who want to see Beacon Hill continue to do the massive spending that they do that lines their pocket. I’m somebody that’s for the people.”
Diehl said he plans to campaign on a “pretty simple” message of “economic freedom” and less state spending. He also said he wants Healey to agree to three televised debates; so far she has agreed to one, a spokesperson said.
Diehl’s campaign did not respond to a question Thursday about whether he is planning any upcoming campaign events in Bristol County.
The decision by Republican primary voters to nominate Diehl marks a sharp break with their party’s popular outgoing governor, Charlie Baker, after he declined to seek a third term. Baker has refused to endorse Diehl, who is running with support from former President Donald Trump, a Baker nemesis.
Diehl said he was pleased that Trump held a telephone rally for him earlier this week. “I think Republican voters were very happy to hear that he believes in me, much like I believe that we have a great a future, just like he gave us when he was in office for four years,” he said.
Lisa Kashinsky, who covers politics for Politico Massachusetts, said Healey is widely viewed as “the overwhelming favorite to clinch the governor’s office in November,” in part because of Diehl’s alliance with Trump.
“She is running against a conservative Republican in a state that has not voted for that in general elections in the past,” Kashinsky said.
Ted Nesi (email@example.com) is a Target 12 investigative reporter and 12 News politics/business editor. He co-hosts Newsmakers and writes Nesi’s Notes on Saturdays. Connect with him on Twitter and Facebook
Tim White and Jacqueline Gomersall contributed to this report.