Here in Massachusetts, we have had a tradition of strong, progressive leaders from Barney Frank and Ed Markey to Elizabeth Warren and Deval Patrick. But not too long ago, bold, progressive action was met with resistance from party leaders and political insiders. When faced with that kind of resistance, some individuals may shy away, going along to get along. As a lawmaker, Warren Tolman didn’t just go along to get along because he knew he was elected to fight for his constituents, not serve party leadership. That willingness to buck the normal and carve out his own path is exactly the reason I’m proud to endorse Warren Tolman to be our next Attorney General.
During his time in the legislature, Warren never backed down from a fight when he knew it was the right thing to do. Warren took on Big Tobacco at their height because companies were preying on young children. After plenty of pushback from the industry and fringe right-wingers (Rush Limbaugh called him “an anti-smoking Nazi” on national radio), Warren scored some big victories, divesting state pension funds from Big Tobacco, banning the sale of single cigarettes, and requiring the disclosure of accurate nicotine yield ratings, additives and ingredients. As a result there are far fewer people smoking today in Massachusetts.
Warren was also instrumental in banning smoking from the State House. It’s important to remember that this was a time when smoking indoors was still the norm and most people enjoyed a cigarette at their desk, particularly some party leaders. This didn’t stop Warren. His persistence to rid the State House of smoking eventually led to the leadership backing down.
Massachusetts has been a leader in the progressive movement because of people who push back against the idea that “this is how it is and we can’t change anything.” It is the people who have made bold choices, knowing that it could mean their political demise, because they understand that change can move our society forward. Warren Tolman has exemplified those bold choices — as the architect of campaign finance and ethics reform, as an advocate for HIV and AIDS education in our schools, and as a gubernatorial candidate running under Clean Elections.
As a decision-maker, Warren doesn’t look to see what’s popular or what will make sense politically. Warren comes to a decision after asking himself one question, “How can we improve the lives of people and ensure that everyone has a voice?” Leaders are the ones who take on the tough fights, even in the face of growing pressure, because they do not back down from their principles. In the race for Attorney General, Warren Tolman is that leader.