Outgoing Auditor Suzanne Bump has made her pick in the race to succeed her, endorsing Chris Dempsey on Wednesday and asking delegates at next month's Democratic nominating convention to support him.
Bump is retiring after more than 20 years in various roles on Beacon Hill. Dempsey and Sen. Diana DiZoglio are running on the Democratic side of the open race, and Republican Anthony Amore is the sole candidate across the aisle.
Bump, the state's first female auditor, said she believes Dempsey is "best suited to the role" that she has held since 2011, citing his "understanding of the role, his knowledge of how state government actually works, the roles he's had in policymaking [and] his vision for the office."
"As important as I think the role of state auditor is, I know that it is not uppermost on the minds of many delegates, and I care very deeply about the kind of person that will succeed me and believe that it will have an impact on the thinking of the delegates to be reminded of what the office really does do and the kind of person they would want in it," Bump told the News Service.
Bump and Dempsey both plan to speak at a Wednesday evening event at the home of Worcester Democratic City Committee Chair Mary Anne Dube, and Bump invited delegates to join her and Dempsey at a celebration in Worcester on Friday, June 3, the first night of the Democratic convention.
She wrote a letter to delegates urging them to support Dempsey, describing him as a "proven watchdog for the public interest" through his efforts opposing Boston's bid to host the 2024 Olympics.
Dempsey, a Brookline Democrat, and Bump served together in Gov. Deval Patrick's administration, where he worked in the Department of Transportation while she was labor secretary. Dempsey said he was honored to have Bump's "strong support."
In her letter, Bump mentions Gov. Charlie Baker's endorsement of Amore, the Winchester Republican seeking the office.
"Our votes in the race for State Auditor matter, since Governor Charlie Baker is aggressively supporting the Republican candidate," she wrote. "We need to endorse the strongest possible candidate. As I see it, that candidate is Chris Dempsey."
Her letter does not refer to DiZoglio by name, but in it Bump says she has listened to statements from the two Democrats and believes they "could not be more divergent."
"Chris is a true progressive, whose positions and voting record contrast sharply with those of the other Democratic candidate in the race," Bump wrote. "Lastly, Chris's personal integrity means that every audit will represent a tool to improve state government, not a weapon to take down an individual or institution or grab a gratuitous headline."
Asked about specific positions and votes where she sees a contrast, Bump mentioned police reform and gun control and noted that the group Progressive Massachusetts has backed Dempsey.
She also referenced news coverage around DiZoglio's interest in auditing the Legislature, saying that one reason Dempsey is "the better candidate" is because "the other candidate does not know" the limitations of the office.
Bump's office told CommonWealth Magazine last month that the auditor lacks authority to audit the Legislature, and DiZoglio responded by telling the news outlet that the Legislature should not be exempt from accountability and the next auditor should "be willing to challenge the status quo and not just give in to powerful insiders."
In 2019, DiZoglio and Rep. Alyson Sullivan asked Bump to examine the use of non-disclosure agreements across state government, a review that a Bump spokesperson said at the time was "not feasible."
DiZoglio's campaign website says that, if elected, she would "audit the use of taxpayer-funded NDAs and hold our government accountable when they are used to silence victims of workplace harassment or other violence." She also says she wants to start by auditing the Baker administration's pandemic response -- in February 2021, DiZoglio asked Bump to audit the selection of vendors involved in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout.
DiZoglio this week announced an endorsement from the Massachusetts Nurses Association PAC.
MNA President Katie Murphy said the organization was backing the Methuen Democrat "because of her diverse experience and accomplishments in government, her commitment to transparency, and her ability to be both proactive and reflective in her work for the residents of Massachusetts" and called DiZoglio "a champion for us and all frontline workers."
DiZoglio has also collected endorsements from Congresswoman Lori Trahan and fellow state Sens. Marc Pacheco, John Cronin, Barry Finegold, Anne Gobi, Ed Kennedy and Michael Moore.
Though Democrats have contested races for governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general and secretary of state this year, Bump said the auditor race is "probably the only" constitutional office for which she will make an endorsement.