2018 seems to be the year of challengers to longtime incumbents in Massachusetts.
Boston City Councilor Josh Zakim says he would bring a fresh perspective to the Secretary of State's Office. Fellow Democrat William Galvin, in office for 24 years, says it's his expertise that has made Massachusetts a leader on voting rights.
"There are certainly some folks who have said, 'Gee, that's a tall mountain to climb," Zakim said.
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The 33-year-old city councilor knows he raised some eyebrows when he announced he would challenge six-term Secretary of State Bill Galvin. But Zakim feels strongly that the time has come for new leadership.
"Focusing on voting rights and making Massachusetts a more open and inclusive system," Zakim said, "unfortunately, we have fallen behind."
Zakim says other states have already enacted election day registration, automatic voter registration, weekend voting and expanded absentee voting.
"The only reason Massachusetts is so far behind has been a lack of leadership and political will," he said.
"That's ridiculous," Galvin argued. "I've been at every hearing. He's been at none."
Galvin, 67, says voter registration is one of the hallmarks of his 24-year administration.
"We register online, we register by mail, we go out to sites, we pre-register 16-year-olds," Galvin listed.
Zakim says he would be a more progressive, stronger advocate.
"Secretary Galvin continues to appeal a court decision that struck down our 20-day registration deadline in Massachusetts," Zakim said.
"The 20-day rule is not about the 20 days," Galvin countered. "It's about the judge's ruling that we can have no deadlines of any kind."
Galvin says many proposals, like election day registration, require extra money for cities and towns, as well as close relationships with the legislature that he has spent years cultivating.
"You can't simply say, 'Well, let's put out a press release or a resolution from the city council.' That doesn't do anything," Galvin said. "I might add, I've been out there before Mr. Zakim arrived. When he was still concealing his candidacy, fooling the voters of the Back Bay saying he wanted to stay on the city council."
"Fresh ideas are important," Zakim said. "That's one of the things I'm talking about."
Zakim is not happy with the date Galvin set for this year's primary — Tuesday, Sept. 4. That's the day after Labor Day, the earliest a primary has ever been scheduled in Massachusetts.
Zakim has challenged Galvin to six debates. Galvin has not yet accepted.