CBS Boston

Jay Gonzalez is training for next month’s Boston Marathon but he’s already begun a grueling political race with an equally uphill course.

The 48-year-old Needham resident, who served in former Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick’s cabinet, is the first Democrat, and first candidate from either major party, to officially declare for governor in 2018. Incumbent Republican Gov. Charlie Baker has yet to formally announce for a second term.

Among Democrats, Newton Mayor Setti Warren has filed papers with state campaign finance regulators and formed an exploratory campaign committee. Former state Sen. Dan Wolf, of Harwich, is among others considering a gubernatorial bid. But Attorney General Maura Healey and other more prominent Democrats are passing on the race.

Gonzalez said he declared early to allow more time to build a statewide campaign and introduce himself to voters. He’s traveled the state but has yet to open a campaign headquarters or hire permanent staff. The $87,000 balance in his campaign fund through mid-March was dwarfed by Baker’s $4.9 million nest egg.

Gonzalez acknowledges that unseating Baker next year won’t be easy, even in a blue state like Massachusetts.

A moderate, Baker has enjoyed strong public approval ratings since taking office. He’s distanced himself from President Donald Trump and other GOP conservatives nationally. He’s won praise for working collaboratively with Democratic legislative leaders and for tackling thorny problems such as the opioid addiction crisis and the sputtering MBTA.

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