With political and political differences, Wu and Healey’s relationship may be more complicated than it seems

But the relationship between the state and the capital’s top leadership could prove far more complicated than their post-election photo op suggests.

One factor is playing out behind the scenes: Wu and Healey backed competing candidates in this year’s Democratic primary, a political disagreement that sparked a heated phone call at the time. They remained cordial publicly, but in January, political differences may become clearer: Although both women have been called progressives, those close to Healey believe she intends to govern as the centrist she campaigned for, an approach which could drive a wedge between her and Wu. a number of key issues.

Their ability to cooperate could shape the future of the city that serves as New England’s economic engine. Thanks to striking consolidation of power at the state level in Massachusetts — in part the century-old relic of the ethnic war between the Brahmins who rule Beacon Hill and the rise to power of the Irish in Boston — the capital relies on state approval for policy changes big and small. But Healey has so far been evasive on several of Wu’s top priorities that require state assent.

Even geography may not be the connection many thought. Healey, once a resident of Charlestown and then the South End, quietly left boston a few months ago, and is still figuring out “where it makes the most sense to reside” once she takes office, her campaign said.

Wu told reporters last week that she would “look into” issues highlighted by Healey during the election campaign, including tackling climate change and improving public transportation. But she didn’t respond directly when asked if she felt she now had a clear ally in the governor’s office.

“We need a state-level partner to positively and proactively stand up when Boston comes forward with our ideas that will require state approval,” Wu said.

Both women say they’re optimistic about their partnership, and Democrats hope a closer alignment between the governor and Boston mayor will result in economic success for the entire state — and political dividends for locals. of them.

For most of Healey’s two terms as attorney general, Wu served on the Boston City Council, so the two had limited interactions in professional circles. Wu, 37, and Healey, 51, do not yet know each other very well, according to relatives, but they have crossed paths often and are now in regular contact by phone or text. They haven’t officially met since Healey’s election but are planning a discussion, Wu said.

But having a Democrat back in the governor’s office doesn’t guarantee political results for Boston’s progressive leaders.

“There’s going to be closeness and returned phone calls,” a Democrat close to Healey said of her relationship with Wu. “But I don’t think it’s certain that the mayor’s agenda will suddenly be easier. at Beacon Hill.”

Boston mayors and Massachusetts governors must collaborate on everything from the mundane to the major. The famous “bromance” between Governor Charlie Baker and former Mayor Martin J. Walsh proved pivotal when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and the two spoke on the phone almost daily. Baker once joked that his wife, Lauren, would resort to “me picking up my phone on a Saturday night at 10 p.m. and telling Marty Walsh you know it’s time for the boys to stop talking.” Yet that closeness has not always translated into political victories for Boston: Walsh lamented that Beacon Hill had not been supportive enough of the city on housing and pre-kindergarten.

Overall, Democrats expect the relationship between Wu and Healey to be a marked improvement over that between Wu and Baker. The Democratic mayor and the Republican governor have publicly clashed over the direction of the MBTA and control of Boston’s public schools. More recently, the two have engaged in a public spat on the so-called region of Mass. and Cass of Boston, where crises of homelessness and substance abuse have persisted.

But Wu and Healey have also been at odds before, including in this year’s Democratic primary for attorney general, when Wu endorsed Shannon Liss-Riordan weeks after Healey publicly backed rival Andrea Campbell. Wu’s Approval angered the incumbent attorney generalwho felt that Campbell was the best candidate to succeed her and campaigned for her.

Both said that the heated disagreement that ensued would not affect their working relationship and would have minimized the rift. While endorsements may seem insignificant, in politics they can be deeply personal. Healey didn’t endorse Wu in last year’s contested mayoral race; Wu did not endorse Healey in this year’s contest for governor until all his Democratic rivals had dropped out.

While Healey seems more sympathetic than Baker to Wu’s progressive ideas on transit, housing and the environment, the governor-elect has also not pledged to give Boston’s plans the support they need to become reality. Wu, meanwhile, has gained a reputation for not being afraid to call out even fellow Democrats when they disagree with her policy priorities, suggesting any disagreements could become public.

Healey did not say, for example, whether she supports Boston getting a long-sought seat on the MBTA board, or being included in a 10-municipality pilot to ban new fossil fuel hookups. Wu has called for a new tax on high-dollar real estate transactions in Boston to fund affordable housing. Healey, meanwhile, explicitly campaigned to cut taxes.

Asked recently about the seat of the board of directors in T, a measure that even Baker has supportedHealey only said that “there are a lot of ideas on the table.”

Wu campaigned to impose rent controls to quell soaring housing prices in Boston. Healey, meanwhile, said: “I don’t think this is the solutionfor the state, though she indicated she might be willing to allow cities and towns to pursue it independently.

Wu called on Baker to “get involved as a partner” at Mass and Cass. Healey said, “I think there was a partnership and a collaboration.”

Healey’s administration may look more like a continuation of Baker’s than a sweeping shift in favor of the Democrats, political observers have said.

“A number of progressives and Democrats assume that Maura Healey will be a progressive governor,” said Tatishe Nteta, pollster and political science professor at UMass Amherst. But his program “does not seem progressive to me”.

The capital will need state approval for policies as big as overhauling the local housing market and as small as granting new liquor licenses. But Boston’s demands for such approvals, called bylaw petitions, languish or die most often in Beacon Hill, especially when they would force substantial policy changes. Whether that will change under Healey remains to be seen.

State Senator Lydia Edwards, a Boston Democrat who knows the two women well, said Wu and Healey “have a lot more in common than not.”

“Now is the time, in this time of transition, where deep bonds are formed,” Edwards said. “And I think they will.”

More, having a good relationship benefits both Healey and Wu, said state Rep. Michael J. Moran, a powerful Democrat who represents Brighton.

“Boston is the engine of New England’s economy. It would be mutually beneficial for Healey to have a relationship with the capital – and likewise for the mayor to have a relationship with the governor. whatever is a problem,” Moran said.

“Now, stylistically, what does that mean? It will be interesting.

Samantha J. Gross of The Globe staff contributed to this report.


Emma Platoff can be contacted at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @emmaplatoff. Matt Stout can be contacted at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @mattpstout.

Comments are closed.