•  On Monday, December 20th, Senate President Karen Spilka (D - Second Middlesex and Norfolk) disclosed that in mid-November she had "a mild stroke" and was told by her doctors to rest, which explains her weeks-long absence from the State House. Spilka said her doctors expect her to make a full recovery within a matter of weeks. In a separate statement, she also announced that she intends to seek reelection to her seat in 2022 and to the Senate president’s post in the next two-year session. Before serving in the legislature, Spilka was a social worker and mediator and first won a seat in the Senate in 2004; she led the chamber’s budget-writing committee before her fellow senators tapped her to be president. First elected as Senate president in 2018, Spilka is one of the most powerful elected officials in the State House, alongside Governor Charlie Baker and House Speaker Ronald Mariano (D - 3rd Norfolk). Speaker Mariano had his own health-related episode last year. In June, the Quincy Democrat was hospitalized while in Florida and fitted with a pacemaker after experiencing "some medical discomfort."

 

  • On Tuesday, December 28th, former state Senator Benjamin Downing dropped out of the gubernatorial race, citing that his campaign does "not have the financial resources to continue." Downing was the first Democrat to officially enter the 2022 governor's race in February 2021, when Harvard professor Danielle Allen was still exploring a run and Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz had not yet declared her candidacy. Downing previously represented a Western Massachusetts district in the state Senate for 10 years, becoming the chamber's point person on clean power before opting not to seek a sixth term in 2016. Democrats are still waiting for Attorney General Maura Healey to disclose her 2022 plans and there is time for other candidates to emerge after Governor Charlie Baker and Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito announced in December that they will not run for reelection in November.