Wilkerson weighs campaign to return to state Senate

With state Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz running for governor in 2022, her former rival Dianne Wilkerson is considering a campaign for the seat Chang-Diaz is giving up.

“I haven’t made a decision,” Wilkerson, who previously held the state Senate seat, told the Reporter. “That’s my answer.”

Wilkerson, 66, expects to make a decision about another Senate run in January or February.

But in the phone interview with the Reporter, Wilkerson already was sounding like a candidate. Wilkerson praised the Massachusetts Congressional delegation, but said state lawmakers aren’t doing enough to send funding to the neighborhoods of Dorchester, Roxbury and Mattapan.

“I am deeply concerned about the lack of resources delivered to this community in the last four years, at least on the state level,” she said.

In 2008, Wilkerson lost to Jamaica Plain’s Chang-Diaz in a Democratic primary. An eight-term incumbent who also had campaign finance violations and a tax evasion conviction, Wilkerson was indicted weeks later on public corruption charges while mulling a sticker campaign. She resigned from the state Senate that November and she pleaded guilty in 2010 to accepting more than $20,000 in cash payments. Before and after her release from prison in 2013, Wilkerson has said she was set up by federal law enforcement officials.

Chang-Diaz’s district includes Dorchester, Mattapan, Jamaica Plain, Hyde Park, Mission Hill, Roslindale, Roxbury and the South End. State lawmakers recently redrew the boundaries of the Second Suffolk Senate seat, adding Black voters to the district as part of the process.

The list of potential candidates could also include state Reps. Liz Miranda, Nika Elugardo and Chynah Tyler, who are said to be considering Senate campaigns. Rev. Miniard Culpepper’s name has also come up in conversations among close watchers of Boston politics.

Wilkerson, who was the first African-American woman to serve in the Senate, has recently worked on the Black Boston Covid-19 Coalition and dove back into Boston politics during recent election cycles. She supported Rachael Rollins in the 2018 race for district attorney and Acting Mayor Kim Janey in the 2021 mayoral preliminary, before throwing her support to Michelle Wu in the Nov. 2 election.

Subscribe to the Dorchester Reporter