Tompkins Won’t Take a Salary as MassDems Chair

Suffolk County Sheriff Steve Tompkins today told members of the Democratic State Committee that he is still mulling a bid to lead the Massachusetts Democratic Party as Chair.

While he’s still chewing on whether to throw his hat into the ring, Tompkins says he believes that “a Chair who is committed to the success of the Party will not take a salary.” Instead, Tompkins says he will invest money set aside to pay the Chair in hiring new staff.

Tompkins also name-checked U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Tompkins says his work as a campaign advisor to Warren in 2012 prepared him to defeat Gov. Charlie Baker, a popular governor who, along with the legislature, must approve the annual budget for Tompkins’ department.

“I know firsthand what it means to put forth the collective effort needed to take back a statewide office held by a popular Republican,” Tompkins wrote.

Here’s the full text of Tompkins’ email to state committee members today:

Dear XXXX,

Since Chairman McGee announced Sunday he won’t seek reelection as the Chair of the Massachusetts Democratic Party, many of my colleagues on the State Committee have reached out to encourage me to put my hat in the ring.  While I am grateful for the confidence you have in my ability to lead, I have not yet made a decision as to whether I will pursue the opportunity.  However, our discussions have inspired me to think about the strengths of our Party  –  our commitment to working for the common good, our belief in promoting inclusion through grassroots organizing, our unwavering spirit – and how an effective chair could harness them to empower Democrats across Massachusetts to work together to make a difference.

To me, the success of a potential Chair is not only dependent on his or her ability to manage and execute.  A thriving Party requires a Chair who is willing to lead by listening and learning from MassDems from every corner of the Commonwealth and translating it into actions.

As MassDems, we believe that the leadership and composition of our Party should reflect the diversity of our Commonwealth. A successful Chair will prioritize recruiting and inspiring people of color to actively engage with the Party, especially as candidates for public office.

As MassDems, we organize around the basic notion that government plays a vital role in the lives of individuals and communities.  A successful Chair will have the ability to speak articulately and insightfully about the issues that affect people’s everyday lives: job creation and training, health care, education, criminal justice, tackling income inequality and housing.

As MassDems, we embrace the entrepreneurial spirit that drives industries and communities throughout our state. A successful Chair will utilize new, innovative approaches to make our Party more efficient and effective in building sustainable systems and programs.

As MassDems, we believe that the best results are achieved by working together to make a positive impact. A successful Chair can cultivate political, grassroots and economic partnerships with individuals and organizations to build on our collective values.

I’m humbled to hear from many of you, my DSC colleagues, who believe I have these qualities. After meeting many of you during my time as Senator Elizabeth Warren’s senior political advisor, I know firsthand what it means to put forth the collective effort needed to take back a statewide office held by a popular Republican. Since Governor Deval Patrick appointed me Sheriff of Suffolk County, I’ve worked hard to bring people together and start conversations about how we better address issues of social, racial and economic justice.

Our ability to defeat Charlie Baker and strengthen Democratic strongholds across the Commonwealth relies on both strong grassroots tactics and an executive leadership team with a proven track record to the Party. I believe a Chair who is committed to the success of the Party will not take a salary; instead, the Chair would commit to using his or her salary to increase staff capacity so we can make a difference where it matters most – grassroots activity, communications and fundraising. Hiring eminently-skilled staff that understands management, motivation, messaging, full-time fundraising, working with the media, and supreme problem-solvers is paramount for us to move the needle on growing our Party, winning public policy victories and electing Democrats at the ballot box.

This weekend, I plan to consult family and friends to assist me in making my decision. However, the input I’m most interested in is yours. What do you value in a chair? How can we work together to make the Party more inclusive? Regardless of who you’re supporting, your input matters to me. I hope you’ll consider reaching out via email at or my cell phone 617.XXX-XXXX


Thank you,Steve Tompkins

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