ben’s story

My name is Ben Downing. I’m Micaelah’s husband. Malcom and Eamon’s father. An East Boston resident, a proud Pittsfield native and a former State Senator for Western Massachusetts. Maggie, Nate and Nick’s brother. Gerard and Pamela’s son. A climate action leader, a progressive Democrat, and a lifelong public servant dedicated to serving my community. 

I’m running for Governor to build a Massachusetts that works for everyone. 

I’m running because I believe the future of Massachusetts is limitless, but I know that our time is not. As we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic Massachusetts needs a Governor who sees, feels, and understands the daily impact of economic inequality, the urgency of our climate crisis, and the consequences of racial injustice. I am running to be your Governor because I see both our biggest problems and the timid politics that let them go unsolved. I know timid politics is not good enough for this moment, and it’s never been good enough for any of the 351 communities in Massachusetts. In order to get stronger at the broken places, we need a new sense of urgency and empathy from all of our leaders—starting with our Governor.

action on our climate crisis, economic justice, and racial equity requires a new sense of urgency from all state leaders — starting with our governor.

I got into public service because I was born in a place that had to fight for itself, to a family that taught me not to waste time on the sidelines. Growing up in Pittsfield, I saw firsthand the legacy of an industry that created jobs but sacrificed the environment and public health. I saw some neighbors get laid off and others discover chemical pollution in their backyards. I saw factories and storefronts get boarded up while headlines in Boston touted a booming economy. And the message my generation heard in Western Mass was clear: Study hard and get out. Instead, I went back and ran for State Senate at age 24. I ran a campaign that promised to make decisions with future generations in mind. Thanks to a grassroots effort, I defeated a 10-term former incumbent by just 243 votes.

Representing 52 communities as far away from Beacon Hill as you can get, I knew we had to work that much harder to build a stronger western Massachusetts. And we did. We revitalized downtowns, rebuilt our college campuses, led on clean energy and conservation, invested in broadband, and worked every day to make our communities open and welcoming to all. As a State Senator, I led legislative efforts to accelerate clean energy development by writing the bill that created the offshore wind industry in Massachusetts. I led on efforts to reduce poverty and hunger by writing the bill that doubled the earned income tax credit for working families. I led on legislative transparency by writing the bill that overhauled state ethics rules to hold politicians accountable. I led on fighting for those too often an afterthought on Beacon Hill by writing the bill finally giving our Gateway Cities the recognition and resources they had long been denied.

After a decade in the State House, I kept a promise I made when I was first elected and term limited myself. I chose to dedicate myself full-time to the climate crisis and joined Nexamp, a leading renewable energy company. There, my team and I worked to expand access to clean energy in Massachusetts and beyond. I led our efforts to expand to new markets outside of the northeast and helped deploy cutting-edge energy storage solutions right here at home. Micaelah and I moved to East Boston, where we welcomed our sons Malcom and Eamon and, when we weren’t chasing them around and enjoying the chaos of new parenthood, we became a part of a vibrant community.

ben is a demonstrated leader with the track record to prove it who will govern for all 351 cities and towns in massachusetts.

Pittsfield and East Boston are about 150 miles apart, each with its unique history, culture, and experience — but they share a whole lot in common. From one side of Massachusetts to the other, I have spent my life in communities that have had to fight harder than they should to get fair representation, equitable access to resources, and attention from Beacon Hill. So I know the difference state leadership makes. When we have had it, we launched a clean energy revolution, raised the minimum wage, reformed our ethics and criminal justice laws, protected marriage equality and expanded protections for transgender individuals. And then I saw what happened when Massachusetts lost that leadership. We lost the urgency that fueled our progress. We lost our will to act. And our economy, infrastructure, and social safety net is weaker for it.

When I drop off my sons at daycare, I see a room full of kids whose access to opportunity is determined not by their intelligence or character, but by the lottery of life and their zip codes. They all deserve every chance to make the most of their talents and gifts. They deserve our best, and Massachusetts isn’t giving it to them. That needs to change.

I’m running for Governor because I know we can do better. We can respond forcefully to shameful racial disparities in access to health care, housing, education, transportation, food security, and the fundamentals every family needs to survive. We can lead the nation in responding to our climate crisis and the legacy of environmental injustice. We can set the gold standard for civil rights.

This is the Massachusetts I was raised to believe in — a Commonwealth on the cutting edge of our biggest challenges, not the back of the pack.  Our potential is limitless, but achieving it requires leaders who will not avoid, punt, or tiptoe around our biggest challenges.

It requires leaders who will meet them head-on.