Massachusetts Democratic Party

Massachusetts Democratic Party
Chairman John E. Walsh
Senate leader Therese Murray
Frederick Berry
House leader Robert DeLeo
Ronald Mariano
Headquarters Boston, Massachusetts
Ideology American Liberalism
Social Democracy
National affiliation Democratic Party
Official colors Blue
Politics of the United States
Political parties

The Massachusetts Democratic Party is the state affiliate of the United States Democratic Party in the U.S. Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The state party chairman is John E. Walsh.



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 John Walsh, Chairman; Debra Kozikowski, Vice-Chair; Raymond A. Jordan, Jr., Vice-Chair; and Clare Kelly, Executive Director. Non-officers include two men and two women from each state senatorial district, Democratic National Committee members from Massachusetts, and roughly 120 add-on delegates 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 Committee, the Field Services Committee, the Campaign Services Committee, the Youth Services Committee, the Rules Committee, the Charter Committee, the By-Laws Committee, and the Public Policy 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 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. The Civil War and the question of slavery divided many of the nation’s Democratic Party members. But 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 early half of the 19th century. This sentiment solidified the party’s ranks in the decades following the Civil War, particularly in Massachusetts, where Irish immigrants, rural farmers, fishermen, and skilled laborers flooded the city of Boston and the surrounding towns. At the same time, the Republican Party had emerged from the Civil War with strong northern support for its anti-slavery stance. As the 20th century unfolded, both parties would strengthen their ranks and form the current two-party system of American politics.

20th and 21st centuries

Despite numerous Republicans elected to the office of 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 2006 elections solidified the Democratic Party’s dominance in Massachusetts. Currently, every Congressional delegate from Massachusetts is a Democrat. Democrats also occupy all constitutional offices in the Commonwealth’s state government, including Attorney General Martha Coakley, Auditor Suzanne Bump, Secretary of State William F. Galvin, and Treasurer Steve Grossman. The Massachusetts Democratic Party holds super-majorities in both the state House of Representatives and the state Senate.

On January 4, 2007, Deval Patrick was inaugurated as the first African American Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Patrick, a Democrat, lawyer, and former Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights under the Clinton Administration, was also the first Democratic Governor of Massachusetts to be elected to that position since Michael Dukakis’s term ended in 1991.

During the special election to fill the U.S. Senate seat made vacant by the death of Ted Kennedy, the Massachusetts Democratic Party and Democratic candidate Martha Coakley's campaign were criticized for mailing a campaign flier that accused the Republican candidate, Scott Brown, of wanting hospitals to turn away all rape victims.[1][2][3] Reporters with The Boston Globe described the flier as "a major misrepresentation of [Brown's] position",[1] while a Politico reporter said it was an "air of desperation" by Massachusetts Democrats, in response to Brown's surging poll numbers.[4] False statements against political candidates that are intentionally made "to aid or to injure or defeat such candidate" is prohibited by Massachusetts General Laws.[1] Brown's campaign announced plans to file a criminal complaint against the Massachusetts Democratic Party.[5]

Current elected officials

Members of Congress

U.S. Senate

U.S. House of Representatives

Statewide offices

Legislative leadership

See also

Party chairmen

  • George S. Boutwell (1853)
  • Noah A. Plympton (1883–1894)
  • 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)
  • Joseph A. Maynard (1932–1934)
  • Joseph McGrath (1934–1938)
  • William H. Burke, Jr. (1940–1945)
  • John F. Cahill (1945–1949)
  • 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)
  • Gerard F. Doherty (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–present)


Further reading

  • 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.

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