Lesser knocks status quo In launch for lieutenant governor

BOSTON — Eric Lesser, a fourth-term state senator and chairman of the Economic Development Committee, announced Tuesday morning that he will run for lieutenant governor this year on a platform of making the whole state a more equitable and affordable place to live.

The Democrat from Longmeadow’s time in the Senate has been marked by his advocacy for forging better connections between Western Massachusetts and the Greater Boston area to expand job opportunities in the former and alleviate issues like traffic and high housing costs in the latter. His campaign for lieutenant governor launched Tuesday saying Lesser “is ready to confront the reality that Massachusetts, despite its progressive history, has become one of the most unequal places in the country.”

“Massachusetts has so much going for it, but it’s harder and harder to live here,” he said in an email to supporters. “It’s just too expensive -- good housing is becoming out of reach, public transportation is outdated or nonexistent, and the cost of childcare is crushing families. The status quo doesn’t work for anybody.”

Lesser, 36, is the latest state lawmaker to decide to pass up reelection, often a safe bet for any incumbent on Beacon Hill, to instead seek another office. The race for lieutenant governor already includes his Senate colleague Adam Hinds of Pittsfield, Rep. Tami Gouveia of Acton and businessman Bret Bero.

The Democratic field for governor includes Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz and Harvard professor Danielle Allen, and could grow to also include Attorney General Maura Healey. The official duties of lieutenant governor are minimal and the job can differ from administration to administration, but Lesser launched his campaign by pitching himself as a lieutenant governor who “will partner with our next Governor to make sure she is the most successful Governor in the country.”

“Together, they will work to fix our broken transportation system, build more housing, create better jobs, protect our environment, and make our state more affordable and equitable,” his announcement said.

Lesser first ran for Senate in 2014 to succeed Sen. Gale Candaras, touting his close ties to the Obama White House. He began his work for Barack Obama “carrying suitcases during the 2008 presidential campaign” and was named special assistant to White House senior advisor David Axelrod, “working steps from the Oval Office,” after Obama’s victory, he wrote in a 2014 campaign announcement. Lesser later worked as director of strategic planning for the White House Council of Economic Advisers.

The Harvard College and Harvard Law School alumnus has also worked as a script consultant for HBO’s comedy series Veep.

In addition to Lesser, Chang-Diaz, Hinds and Gouveia, a handful of others in the House and Senate are eyeing the exits this year. Sen. Diana DiZoglio of Methuen is running for auditor and Rep. Tim Whelan of Brewster is running for Barnstable County sheriff.

Rep. Brad Hill and Sen. Joe Boncore have already departed this term -- Hill for the Gaming Commission and Boncore for the Mass. Biotech Council. At least two others could leave mid-term: House Majority Leader Claire Cronin of Easton was confirmed last month by the U.S. Senate as the nation’s ambassador to Ireland and Rep. Maria Robinson of Framingham is awaiting confirmation as assistant secretary in the federal Office of Electricity.

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