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Although the campaign war chest of Governor Charlie Baker bursts with cash, the Republican is not the first major party candidate to declare his candidate for 2018. That title goes to Jay Gonzalez, a former Deval Patrick cabinet secretary who launched his campaign in January.

While he faces a long path to unseating sky-high polling Baker, Gonzalez has eagerly embraced the role as foil to the governor.

“We’ve always been striving to move forward and make progress,” Gonzalez said. “Not only are we not making progress. We’re not even trying,” he said of Massachusetts under Baker.

Other Democratic hopefuls, environmentalist Bob Massie and Newton Mayor Setti Warren, are panning Baker either directly or indirectly. Yet Gonzalez’s trajectory somewhat mirrors his Republican rival.

Gonzalez and Baker are former secretaries of Administration and Finance (A&F) who worked for transformative figures in Massachusetts politics, Patrick and Bill Weld respectively. Both had careers in healthcare thereafter.

This background fits Massachusetts’s skepticism of long-serving politicians in the corner office. Democratic party figures, attorneys general and a state treasurer fell to Republican after Republican for this reason. Patrick became the first Democratic governor since Michael Dukakis in part by being such an outsider. But Gonzalez’s primary opponents have non-Beacon Hill credentials, too.

Gonzalez’s resume—if not his height, he jokes—may mirror Baker’s. Yet, Gonzalez also challenges the governor’s 2014 promise, however unfulfilled, to be a steady hand at the wheel. Though necessary, it is “not sufficient” to meet the commonwealth’s needs.

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