Gubernatorial candidate Downing looks to run ‘most diverse campaign’ in state history


  • Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ben Downing speaks with a small crowd at Stage on Main in Orange on Tuesday evening. Staff Photo/Julian Mendoza

  • The crowd applauds Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ben Downing at Stage on Main in Orange on Tuesday evening. Staff Photo/Julian Mendoza

  • Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ben Downing speaks with a small crowd at Stage on Main in Orange on Tuesday evening. Staff Photo/Julian Mendoza

Staff Writer
Published: 10/27/2021 1:35:47 PM
Modified: 10/27/2021 1:39:10 PM

ORANGE — Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ben Downing visited Stage on Main on Tuesday for the first installment of the “Meet & Greet Your Statewide Candidates Series.”

The former state senator, Pittsfield native and current East Boston resident greeted a small crowd with a speech that emphasized his relationship with struggle and the importance of representation for Western Massachusetts. After, he remained behind the microphone for a question and answer session, addressing issues of social inequity, education, executive capabilities and the environment.

Downing came prepared with an introductory speech focused on garnering trust through connections between himself and locals. Early on, he linked Boston with Orange and surrounding areas as being “tough, striving, creative, generous places.” He spent much of the speech speaking on the level of those in attendance, saying he knows “what it’s like to get knocked down” and be underrepresented like people argue Western Massachusetts is in state politics.

“I’m running to be your governor because I’m tired of state leaders wasting your time,” Downing said.

He didn’t hold back from dropping the name of current Gov. Charlie Baker to augment his point.

“For the last seven years, Charlie Baker has squandered opportunity after opportunity,” Downing said.

During the question and answer session, Downing made clear his progressive self-identity, advocating for debt-free — and potentially tuition-free — college and emphasizing his support for the state’s Fair Share Amendment that would add 4 percentage points to the tax on income above $1 million. One of his talking points that received an especially positive response from the crowd was his emphasis on race’s social significance.

“I am a white male,” Downing said. “I should be held to a higher standard than the team that we build.”

One of the commitments Downing proudly emphasized was his plan to fill 50% of his cabinet with women and people of color. He also spoke of his intention to diversify his team in terms of life experiences and perspectives, denouncing the idea that everyone needs to have an “Ivy League” background.

“We will seek to build the most diverse campaign in the history of Massachusetts,” he said, “but also the most diverse administration in the history of Massachusetts.”

Former state Rep. Denise Andrews and Greenfield School Committee member Susan Hollins, who co-hosted the event, also participated actively in the audience asking questions. Both felt encouraged by the time the evening drew to a close.

“I loved the questions and perspectives shared,” Andrews said.

Hollins felt it was especially significant that Downing attended a meet-and-greet in such a small town.

“The small towns, it’s like David and Goliath,” she said. “I think it’s great that a candidate comes around to these rural towns to speak to the people.”

Downing told the Greenfield Recorder that the appreciation is mutual. He said he counts on small-town residents with high expectations to “kick the tires on (him) a little bit.”

“I always come away learning something,” Downing said.

The next installments in the “Meet & Greet Your Statewide Candidates Series” will see gubernatorial candidates Sonia Chang-Diaz at 110 Grill at 307 Market Drive in Athol at 3 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 30, and Danielle Allen at Stage on Main in Orange at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 7.

Reach Julian Mendoza at 413-772-0261, ext. 261 or

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