Ahead of the Massachusetts gubernatorial election on Nov. 6, Democratic nominee for Lieutenant Governor Quentin Palfrey wants University of Massachusetts students to turn out for what he calls “one of the most important elections in our lifetime.”
Running alongside governor nominee Jay Gonzalez, Palfrey seeks to combat problems in education affordability, climate change and the current opioid crisis. These issues are focal points of a campaign determined to help younger generations in Massachusetts.
On the subject of college affordability, he proposes greater investments in public education as a whole, referring to Republicans like opponent Charlie Baker as regressive in that area.
“We’re bankrupting a generation of young people,” Palfrey said in a phone interview last Thursday. “I was talking to a young couple recently, 30 years old: $130,000 in student loan debt, who are delaying having a family, delaying buying a home.”
The former executive director of J-PAL North America added that student loans posed a fundamental threat to the American dream, particularly for lower class citizens or those otherwise financially burdened.
One of the proposals he offered is a $3 billion down payment each year on revenue for higher education. That, and also moving toward a single-payer healthcare plan, one of the driving factors behind college cost.
“We have a healthcare system that is fundamentally broken,” Palfrey said. “We’re spending about 20 percent of our GDP on providing healthcare and yet getting results that are worse… and squeezing out all other priorities.”
In addition to current Governor Baker having “no plans” regarding education investments, Palfrey also cited the incumbent’s track record with clean energy as suboptimal. Baker has received a C rating in the past three years from the Sierra Club and other organizations judging clean energy initiatives.
The Gonzalez-Palfrey ticket refuses to accept donations from fossil fuel companies, unlike their opponents, who have, “been focused on building more pipe plant lines or doubling down on the infrastructure for the fossil fuel industry.”
Along with affordable education and climate change, Palfrey referred to towing the party line as another fault of incumbent Baker. Specifically, Palfrey said Baker’s endorsement of Geoff Diehl mirrors President Trump’s endorsement for the candidate.
“We have opponents who think that the answer is to give another rubber stamp of the vote to Donald Trump,” he said. “The person that Baker has endorsed would take us in the wrong direction, it would be another vote for Trump’s nominees’ agenda.”
However, incumbent Governor Baker still ranks favorably among Democrats and Republicans alike. Per a WBUR Massachusetts Statewide Poll, registered Democrats favored Baker more than Republicans as recently as May of this past year.
Palfrey and Gonzalez decided from the beginning a grassroots campaign was their best approach for garnering supporters. Massachusetts elections have historically favored Democrats over Republicans when voter turnout is high.
They hired 35 field organizers, the most ever recruited by the Massachusetts Democratic Party, to reach out more closely to voters through canvassing, door-to-door introductions and phone calls.
Palfrey talked with UMass Democrats in person during a Post Canvass meet and greet on Monday last week. Vice President of the UMass Democrats Jack Eccles, a senior operations and information major, approves of the grassroots approach taken by the ticket.
“That’s what a campaign should be,” Eccles said. “It shouldn’t be a vortex of millions of dollars like the Baker campaign is.”
He added that Governor Baker has not visited Amherst once during his time at UMass.
UMass Democrats President Sonia Guglani, a senior marketing and economics double major, also agreed that Quentin took the right approach with his campaign.
“He said it himself when I spoke to him,” Guglani said. “He knows that he’s the underdog in this race just because Governor Baker and [Lt. Governor] Karyn Polito have such a known presence in Massachusetts. This is one of the biggest, toughest battles for the [Democrats] right now… I think he’s taking the right steps to make sure that he becomes recognized.”
Palfrey last meets with Massachusetts voters on Oct. 27, two days before his WGBH Gubernatorial Debate.
John Buday can be reached at [email protected]