Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, the frontrunner in the Democratic primary race for governor, clinched another high-profile endorsement on Wednesday morning, just days before the party’s convention in Worcester.
Senate President Karen Spilka threw her support behind Healey, calling the attorney general a “proven leader” who “won’t hesitate to stand up for what’s right for the people of Massachusetts.”
Spilka’s endorsement comes more than two months after House Speaker Ron Mariano unexpectedly declared support for Healey during a virtual forum. Spilka is slated to speak at the Democratic Party’s convention on Saturday morning in Worcester, before delegates cast ballots for Healey or state Sen. Sonia Chang-Díaz, the underdog gubernatorial hopeful.
“She (Healey) has been a strong partner to the State Senate on the most pressing issues facing the state, particularly in confronting the mental health and opioid crises,” Spilka said in a statement Wednesday. “I know that with Maura Healey as Governor, we will build on our progress to make Massachusetts a healthier, stronger, and fairer home for all.”
Healey, in a statement, highlighted other shared priorities with Spilka, including climate change and abortion access. But like Spilka, Healey emphasized the pair’s commitment to bolstering mental health care in the commonwealth.
“We have seen this crisis firsthand, both in our roles in state government and in our private lives,” Healey said. “Together, we can ensure that mental health care is treated as health care here in Massachusetts, that everyone can access the care they need, and that no one struggles alone.”
Healey and Spilka, in an op-ed published Wednesday in the Metrowest Daily News coinciding with the endorsement announcement, underscored the urgency of the mental health crisis, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and a shortage of providers. But they also offered a message of hope, as sweeping new investments pave a path toward mental health reform, including tackling emergency room boarding and recruiting more behavioral health professionals.
“But we must continue to ramp up investments in this area, including building a sustainable pipeline and creating lasting incentives to go into the field, particularly for people of color,” Healey and Spilka wrote. “Too many providers still don’t take insurance, blocking patients who cannot afford to pay out of pocket from accessing care. It also reinforces a double standard that we desperately need to erase.”