There’s no evidence women will be voting as a bloc for state auditor during the Democratic primary in three weeks. The race hasn’t caught much public attention and this WHAV analysis attempts to shed light on a particular dynamic.
Sen. Diana DiZoglio over the past decade has campaigned as a firebrand for state representative, senator and, now, state auditor—and her demeanor has both worked for and against her among current and former elected women.
Slights from former Sen. Kathleen O’Connor-Ives, existing state Auditor Suzanne M. Bump and, as of this month, Sen. President Karen E. Spilka who have endorsed Gov. Deval Patrick’s former Assistant Transportation Secretary Chris Dempsey. They have been largely balanced though by DiZoglio’s similar backing from high-profile women and women’s groups. These include Congresswoman Lori Trahan, who endorsed DiZoglio back in February; state Sen. Anne M. Gobi, Senate chair of the Higher Education Committee; and Emily’s List, a national group backing Democratic pro-choice women candidates.
The pile on of DiZoglio snubs began in April from the woman she replaced in 2018 as senator, O’Connor-Ives. Ives offered few specifics as to why she supports Dempsey except to say, “he is articulating detailed and clear plans as the next auditor, such as tracking the spending of the unprecedented ARPA federal funding Massachusetts is receiving.”
The next high-profile brushoff of DiZoglio came from existing state Auditor Suzanne M. Bump endorsing Dempsey in May in advance of the state Democratic Convention. Bump said she supports Dempsey over DiZoglio, whom she implied would use the auditor’s job as “a weapon to take down an individual or institution or grab a gratuitous headline.”
One might argue, however, the framers of the Massachusetts Constitution intended for the job to be politically charged when they made it subject to popular vote along with secretary and treasurer and receiver-general.
Spilka’s endorsement of Dempsey over someone in her caucus is also not unprecedented. The senate president overlooked Sen. Sonia Chang-Díaz in June to back Attorney General Maura Healey for governor.
It also may come as no surprise Spilka endorsed Dempsey after DiZoglio spent much of her time in the Senate butting heads with leadership over time to study legislation, transparency and her signature complaint, the use of taxpayer money to pay nondisclosure agreements. In endorsing Dempsey, Spilka hinted at the disagreements by saying, Dempsey “understands the importance of collaboration in getting things done for the people of MA.”
The Democrat that emerges successful from the Tuesday, Sept. 6 primary faces against Republican Anthony Amore of Winchester during the Tuesday, Nov. 8 final election.