Press Release: Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Elections Matter: Help Us Elect These Progressive Champions

Elections Matter: Help Us Elect These Progressive Champions

Elections matter. Our ability to make progressive change in Massachusetts depends on our electing progressive champions to office -- every office.

In particular, primaries matter. Whether you're ousting a conservative or passive incumbent (of either party) or electing a real champion in an open seat (replacing a retiring one or getting a real progressive upgrade), primaries can send a powerful message.

Massachusetts's state primary is Tuesday, September 4th.

Over the past couple of months, we've been inviting candidates to fill out our comprehensive policy questionnaire -- a vital tool for informing voters and for holding politicians accountable. Our Election and Endorsement Committee reviews them and then chooses whether to make a recommendation to our members, the ultimate deciders.

We're proud to endorse the following candidates, each of whom won an overwhelming majority of the vote among our membership, for our first round of District Attorney and State Legislative primary endorsements.


District Attorney

As countless stories from right here in Massachusetts and around the country have shown, a District Attorney has a lot of power. Too often, DAs have used that power in favor of mass incarceration and the attendant racial and economic disparities. From overcharging to lobbying against criminal justice reform, DAs have proven themselves to be an obstacle.

But DAs get away with much of what they do because no one is paying attention. Recent elections and public education campaigns have elevated DA races in the public mind and showed the possibilities of what a progressive DA can do. And with a landmark criminal justice reform bill now on the books in Massachusetts, it's important to have DAs who support implementing the law -- and pushing for bolder reforms as well.

Progressive Mass has been working with a coalition of progressive allies around the Commonwealth called Justice for Massachusetts to elect progressive DAs and hold them accountable to their promises.

Suffolk County: Rachael Rollins


Rachael Rollins has been a lawyer for over 20 years. She is a former state and federal prosecutor and clerk on the Massachusetts Appeals Court. Rachael was the general counsel of both the MBTA and the Massachusetts Department of Transportation and the Chief Legal Counsel for the Massachusetts Port Authority. Rachael currently sits on Attorney General Maura Healey’s Advisory Council on Racial Justice and Equity. She was appointed by Governor Deval Patrick to the Judicial Nominating Commission, served as past president of the Massachusetts Black Lawyers Association, and served a three-year term on the Boston Bar Association Council. She brings her lived experience as someone whose family has been directly affected by the criminal justice system and is committed to implementing the recently passed Criminal Justice Reform bill, rebuilding the relationship between the DA's office and the community, and ensuring that the lawyers in the DA's office reflect the communities they serve. As the first female general counsel for the MBTA and the first person of color to serve as general counsel of MassDOT, Rachael brings the management experience needed to manage the reform process that will be critical in the Suffolk County DA’s Office.

State Senate

First Middlesex: John Drinkwater


John Drinkwater has spent his entire career promoting social and economic justice through the Labor Movement. He joined the Massachusetts AFL-CIO, an umbrella organization for over 700 local unions, in 2006 and served the organization in a variety of roles before being named Legislative Director in 2014. In addition to representing the interests of working people at the State House, he also plays a key role in the Massachusetts AFL-CIO’s political field program which helps to elect pro-worker candidates to office. John has been a part of legislative coalitions that have successfully passed into law: a $15 minimum wage, Paid Family and Medical Leave, workplace protections for temp agency workers, the Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights, expanded health and safety standards for public sector workers, and gender-neutral parental leave rights.

Hampshire, Franklin & Worcester: Chelsea Kline


Chelsea Kline is a higher education leader and social justice advocate running for State Senate to be a strong progressive voice for Western Massachusetts' working families, local businesses, and underrepresented communities. When she became a low-income single mom at 19, Chelsea juggled multiple jobs and relied on food stamps to make sure her daughter wouldn't go hungry. She was able to succeed not only because she worked hard, but because of public investments in the social safety net and community college. Now, as the social safety net continues to fray, Chelsea is channeling her leadership experience and her 25 years as an activist and organizer into her run for State Senate. She is running on progressive issues, such as Medicare for All, 100% renewable energy, and full funding for public education from Pre-K through higher education, and strongly believes we need bold leadership in the legislature to achieve this vision.

Norfolk, Bristol & Middlesex: Becca Rausch


The granddaughter of a Holocaust survivor and the daughter of an activist, Becca Rauschhas a life-long commitment to progressive values and social justice. Becca is an elected Needham Town Meeting Member, attorney who has practiced in both the public and private sectors, dedicated community leader, union steward, spouse, and parent of two young kids. Becca has the skills and experience at both the state and local levels of government to be an effective voice in the MA State Senate starting on her first day in office. She believes communities are stronger when progressive social policies are implemented by a transparent and accountable government. She plans to fight for universal health care, innovative and evidenced-based methods of addressing the opioid epidemic, transportation equity, strong public education with healthy learning environments and well-rounded curricula, meaningful voting rights and access, and policies that make government work for working families.

State House of Representatives

2nd Bristol: Jim Hawkins


Since his upset victory in April’s special election, Jim Hawkins has hit the ground running on Beacon Hill. He came to the State House with a history of community engagement and advocacy. In 1999, he was recognized by the National Society of Fundraising Professionals as a partner in philanthropy for his successful fundraising efforts and years of delivering food to the homeless. For twelve years, Jim taught math at Attleboro High School (AHS) and recruited tutors for homeless and disadvantaged students. During his time as a teacher at AHS, Jim founded the Rome Boulevard Road Race, which delivers much-needed funds to student programs at the school. More recently, he was a District Coordinator for the Massachusetts Teacher Association, fighting for the quality public education on which our Commonwealth depends.

1st Hampshire: Lindsay Sabadosa


Lindsay Sabadosa is an activist with a proven track record of advocating for concrete legislation at the State House. She is currently running for State Representative for the 1st Hampshire District, which represents Northampton, Hatfield, Southampton, Westhampton and Montgomery. She’s a mother, legal and financial translator, runner, and lifelong community organizer. She is the Director of the Pioneer Valley Women’s March, serves on the board of Emerge Massachusetts and the Abortion Rights Fund of Western Massachusetts, and sits on statewide organizing committees for progressive legislation like Medicare for All and the Safe Communities Act. Her progressive platform includes single-payer healthcare, education funding reform, 100% green energy, East-West/North-South rail, reproductive rights, immigrants' rights, criminal justice reform, and other progressive legislation.

15th Middlesex: Mary Ann Stewart


Mary Ann Stewart is a community activist and member of the Lexington Democratic Town Committee. Since 2006, she has been a member of Lexington Town Meeting and the League of Women Voters of Lexington. She is a working parent who came up through the school site council and PTA, was elected twice to Lexington's School Committee, and was appointed by Governor Deval Patrick to the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. She has spent countless hours pounding the pavement for workers’ rights and fair and adequate revenue; tirelessly meeting with parents and non-profit leaders, elected officials, and experts to hear their concerns, questions, and recommendations; and educating others on the issues. She looks forward to extending her leadership on these and other issues of critical importance to our families and our future.

19th Middlesex: Erika Johnson 


Erika Johnson is currently chair of the Wilmington Democratic Committee. After graduating college with a political science degree, she worked in impact investing and then moved to the energy efficiency field, working to increase energy efficiency in residential applications and helping electrical distributors upgrade their customers to energy efficient lighting through rebates and incentives. She is running for office to fight for safe, well-funded quality public education; living wages for all; more affordable health care and higher education; and twenty-first-century infrastructure.

30th Middlesex: Darryn Remillard


Darryn Remillard is a United States Marine Corps veteran and a veterinarian running on a strong progressive platform. He grew up poor and spent a significant period of his early childhood in the Washington, DC, foster care system. After high school, he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps and served for 8 years. The military provided him with many of the opportunities that he finds himself fighting for now: guaranteed healthcare for all, accessible and highly subsidized childcare, job security with consistent pay raises, and fully subsidized education. After leaving the Marines amidst disillusionment with the war effort in Iraq and Afghanistan, he went back to veterinary school. Now a father, he worries that a foster child today wouldn’t have the same opportunities he was able to have and intends to fight to change that.

36th Middlesex: Sabrina Heisey


Sabrina Heisey has lived in Dracut for 11 years with her husband (and now six children) and manages grants and budgets for scientific research at Children's Hospital. She is the founder of the Greater Lowell League of Women Voters, a director of the Dracut Mom's Group, a Girl Scout leader, and an elected member of the Dracut School Committee. Sabrina is running for State Rep in the 36th Middlesex District in MA and envisions a future for Massachusetts where schools are fairly and adequately funded, where our tax dollars are spent on the public good instead of corporate welfare, where LGBTQA+ people are afforded equal rights, where women and families have control over their reproductive health, and where Massachusetts strengthens its strict gun laws.

7th Plymouth: Kevin Higgins


Growing up in a family faced with the challenges of addiction and financial hardship, Kevin Higgins was motivated early in life to dedicate his career to improving social and economic opportunities for working families. After watching his family lose their home as a result of predatory sub-prime mortgage lending, Kevin put himself through college, becoming a social worker in elder and disability services and later working as a union organizer. Since the start of his professional life, Kevin has been a strong advocate for the community's most vulnerable residents and has focused on expanding opportunity for individuals with disabilities, senior citizens, and working families.

What's Next?

Learn More: You can read more about the candidates (and our decisions) here (or here for the DA race). All endorsements are decided by our members.

Donate: Progressive candidates depend on progressive funding -- from donors like you. Donate to our endorsees here.

Become a Member: There are more votes (and questionnaires) to come. Want to be able to vote on upcoming endorsements? Become a member at

Take Action: Endorsements are best to the extent that they are put to work. We'll keep you posted over the next two months about how best to do that!


Jonathan Cohn (Election and Endorsement Committee, Co-Chair)