Massachusetts Democratic Party
|Senate leader||Stanley Rosenberg|
|House leader||Robert DeLeo|
|National affiliation||Democratic Party|
|Seats in the Upper House||
34 / 40
|Seats in the Lower House||
125 / 160
The Massachusetts Democratic Party is the affiliate of the Democratic Party in the U.S. Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The state party chairman is Thomas McGee. The party is currently the most powerful political party in the state, dominating its statewide elected offices, and holding veto-proof super-majorities in the state legislature.
Headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Democratic State Committee is responsible for publicizing the platform of the Massachusetts Democratic Party, the state affiliate of the United States Democratic Party. According to the party charter, the State Committee is charged with conducting state-level campaigns for the Democratic Party, coordinating efforts to fill vacancies in nominating candidates to state and congressional offices, and creating and disseminating information regarding official Democratic Party policies and positions. The Committee also engages in fundraising initiatives to support its operations, and coordinates local caucuses and the Democratic State Conventions.
The State Committee comprises 160 elected members, and add-on and ex officio seats, all of whom must be registered Democrats. Current officers include Sen. Thomas McGee, Chairman; Debra Kozikowski, Vice-Chair; Leon Brathwaite, Vice-Chair; Carol Aloisi, Secretary; Paul Yorkis, Treasurer; Raymond Jordan, Chaor Emeritus; and Matt Fenlon, Executive Director. Non-officers include two men and two women from each state senatorial district, Democratic National Committee members from Massachusetts, and roughly 120 additional committee members comprising various underrepresented minority groups, including veterans, gay and lesbian citizens, and college-aged youth representatives.
Eighty of the State Committee members must be elected through presidential primary ballots. The other 80 are elected at Senate district conferences by local town and ward committee members. All State Committee members serve four-year terms. Numerous subcommittees are affiliated with the Massachusetts Democratic State Committee, including the Affirmative Action and Outreach Committee, the By-Laws Committee, the Campaign Services Committee, the Charter Amendments Committee, the Communications Committee, the Credentials Committee, the Disability Outreach Committee, the Field Services Committee, the Finance Committee, the LGBT Outreach Committee, the Labor Outreach Committee, the Massachusetts Democratic Latino Caucus Committee, the Public Policy Committee, the Rules Committee, the Rural Committee, the Internship-Scholarship Committee, the Senior Outreach Committee, the Site Selection Committee, the State Judicial Council Committee, the Veterans and Military Families Outreach Committee, the Women's Outreach Committee, and the Youth Services Committee. Subcommittees are chaired by State Committee members.
The Massachusetts Democratic Party and the National Democratic Party trace their roots to the latter half of the 18th century, when politicians forged alliances based on common national interests. In 1792, Thomas Jefferson founded the Democratic-Republican Party, commonly referred to as the “party of the common man.” Jefferson's new party was adamantly opposed to what it saw as the Federalist Party’s elitist agenda. Jefferson served two consecutive terms as the first Democratic Republican President of the United States beginning in 1800. James Madison, another Democratic-Republican, succeeded Jefferson in 1808, followed by fellow party member James Monroe in 1812. The national party was briefly divided during the election of John Quincy Adams in 1824, in which four Democratic candidates ran for office. Andrew Jackson assumed the leadership of the party following this period, and reunified its constituents. Jackson defined the party’s platform and established the Democratic National Convention as a means of organizing and implementing the party’s agenda on a national scale. With consecutive presidential victories in 1828 and 1832, Jackson succeeded in solidifying the Democratic-Republicans as a powerful national political party. The name was simplified to the Democratic Party at the Democratic National Convention of 1844.
Massachusetts was dominated during the early 19th century by the Federalist Party. The Federalist position was strengthened when Maine, a Democratic-Republican stronghold, achieved statehood in 1820. The Democratic Party in Massachusetts was lacking in well-organized structure and strong leadership for much of the post-Jackson 19th century. Individual factions, including rural groups, immigrants, and factory workers, made up the party rank and file, but were unable to organize effectively to compete with first the Whigs and, after the American Civil War period, the Republicans. They rarely gained control over the legislature, and only one governor (William Russell) served more than two consecutive one-year terms.
As the 19th century was ending, the party found a new strength in an old ideal. The Democrats' long-held suspicions of aristocratic leaders and the wealthy elite struck a chord with immigrants and working class citizens during the first half of the 19th century. Irish Americans gained a measure of organizational power in the party beginning late in the 19th century, but it was not until the 1920s that the Irish, along with other immigrant groups and working-class interests, were able to forge a strong party structure that united their interests and consistently produced electable leadership. By the mid-20th century, the party was successfully contending with Republicans for all major state offices, and had by the 1970s achieved its present dominant position in the state legislature.
20th and 21st centuries
Despite numerous Republicans elected as governor, the Democratic Party has been at the forefront of Massachusetts politics for much of the 20th century. Massachusetts Democrats, from John F. Kennedy to Deval Patrick, have played a prominent role in advancing the party’s agenda and prominence on a local and national scale. The state's strength as a Democratic stronghold is such that it has not voted for a Republican for president since 1984, when Ronald Reagan was elected.
The 2006 elections solidified the Democratic Party’s dominance in Massachusetts, when Deval Patrick became the first Democratic governor in 16 years. It was moderated in 2014 with the election of Republican Charlie Baker as governor. Currently, every Congressional delegate from Massachusetts is a Democrat. Democrats also occupy all constitutional offices in the Commonwealth’s state government other than the governor and lieutenant governor (held by Republicans Baker and Karyn Polito), including Attorney General Maura Healy, Auditor Suzanne Bump, Secretary of State William F. Galvin, and Treasurer Deb Goldberg. The party holds super-majorities in both the state House of Representatives and the state Senate.
Current elected officials
Members of Congress
- 1st district: Richard Neal
- 2nd district: Jim McGovern
- 3rd district: Niki Tsongas
- 4th district: Joseph P. Kennedy III
- 5th district: Katherine Clark
- 6th district: Seth Moulton
- 7th district: Michael Capuano
- 8th district: Stephen Lynch
- 9th district: William R. Keating
- Secretary of Commonwealth: William F. Galvin
- Attorney General: Maura Healey
- Treasurer: Deb Goldberg
- Auditor: Suzanne Bump
- Senate President: Stan Rosenberg
- Senate Majority Leader: Harriette Chandler
- House Speaker: Robert DeLeo
- House Majority Leader: Ronald Mariano
List of party chairmen
- George S. Boutwell (1853)
- Noah A. Plympton (1883–1884)
- Patrick Collins (1884–1891)
- John W. Corcoran (1891)
- Josiah Quincy (1891–1894)
- John W. Corcoran (1894–1896)
- John Coughlin (1896–1898)
- Christopher T. Callahan (1898–1901)
- William S. McNary (1901–1904)
- John Flaherty (1904–1905)
- Josiah Quincy (1905–1906)
- John P. Feeney (1906–1908)
- James W. Synan (1908–1909)
- John F. McDonald (1909–1912)
- Thomas P. Riley (1912–1914)
- Michael A. O'Leary (1914–1921)
- Arthur Lyman (1921–1923)
- Charles H. McGlue (1923–1928)
- Frank J. Donahue (1928–1932)
- Charles F. Riordon - Acting (1932)
- Joseph A. Maynard (1932–1934)
- Helen I. Doherty McGillicuddy - Acting (1934)
- Charles H. McGlue (1934–1935)
- Joseph McGrath (1935–1939)
- William H. Burke, Jr. (1939–1944)
- John F. Cahill (1944–1949)
- James Vahey (1949)
- John C. Carr (1949–1956)
- William H. Burke, Jr. (1956)
- John M. "Pat" Lynch (1956–1962)
- Gerard F. Doherty (1962–1967)
- Lester Hyman (1967–1968)
- David E. Harrison (1968–1971)
- Robert Q. Crane (1971)
- Charles Flaherty (1971–1977)
- Chester G. Atkins (1977–1991)
- Steve Grossman (1991–1993)
- Joan Menard (1993–2000)
- Philip W. Johnston (2000–2007)
- John E. Walsh (2007–2013)
- Thomas McGee (2013–present)
- Abrams, Richard M. Conservatism in a Progressive Era: Massachusetts Politics 1900-1912. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1964
- Brown, Richard D. Massachusetts: A Bicentennial History. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 1978
- Darling, Arthur B. Jacksonian Democracy in Massachusetts. The American Historical Review, Vol. 29, No.2. (Jan, 1924), pp. 271–287
- Gamm, Gerald H. The Making of the New Deal Democrats: Voting Behavior and Realignment in Boston, 1920-1940. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1989
- Goodman, Paul. The Democratic-Republicans of Massachusetts: Politics in a Young Republic. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1964
- Hennessy, Michael E. Four Decades of Massachusetts Politics: 1890-1935. Norwood, Mass.: The Norwood Press, 1935
- Merriam, C.E. State Central Committees: A Study of Party Organization. Political Science Quarterly, Vol. 19, No. 2. (June, 1904), pp. 224–233.
- Robinson, William A. Jeffersonian Democracy in New England. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1916.
- "Sen. Tom McGee Elected Chair of Mass Dems". MassDems.