State Attorney General Maura Healey, a Democrat, will become the first woman elected governor of Massachusetts, as she is projected to defeat a Republican who allied himself with former President Donald Trump.
Healey will also be at least one of the first two lesbian governors in the United States. Former Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek, another lesbian, is running for governor in that state.
Healey easily defeated Geoff Diehl, a right-wing former state representative who had the endorsement of Trump. The possibility of losing a primary to Diehl contributed to the decision of popular Republican outgoing Gov. Charlie Baker to retire. (While Baker was ultra-popular with Democrats and independent voters in the state, Republicans had largely turned on him.)
While Massachusetts has had a female governor in the past — Republican Jane Swift served from 2001 to 2003 — Healey is the first woman to win a gubernatorial election in the state. (Swift ascended to the top post when her predecessor accepted an ambassadorship, and she did not run for reelection.)
Despite Massachusetts’ status as a liberal bastion, the state has long selected moderate Republicans to run the state. Healey will be just the second Democratic governor to serve since 1991.
Healey, who captained the woman’s basketball team at Harvard University while in college, focused on gun control, consumer protection and protecting abortion rights while attorney general. As governor, she will have to help fix Boston’s troubled mass transit system and deal with a long-standing housing affordability crisis.
Democrats have massive majorities in both chambers of the state legislature — there are just three Republicans in the 40-member state Senate currently — so Healey’s victory means the state is once again a Democratic trifecta after eight years of Baker.