WGBH Radio

“With Donald Trump as our president, I think we need a governor that is going to stand up for every single person in this state and make it crystal clear that hate and discrimination aren’t going to be tolerated,”

Former health care executive Jay Gonzalez officially announced a campaign for the Democratic nomination for governor, challenging Governor Charlie Baker’s anticipated run for reelection in 2018. Gonzalez, who oversaw the state’s operating budget as the former Secretary of Administration and Finance for the Patrick administration, told Boston Public Radio that Baker’s inaction on key issues inspired him to run. “With Donald Trump as our president, I think we need a governor that is going to stand up for every single person in this state and make it crystal clear that hate and discrimination aren’t going to be tolerated,” Gonzalez said. “I don’t think we have that right now in Governor Baker.”

Baker has been criticized for staying mum on several controversial issues regarding President Trump, who he did not vote for and criticized as a candidate. In a previous interview with BPR, Baker stressed the need to prioritize the state’s financial interests through a good relationship with Washington—including with President Trump. According to Gonzalez, this mentality only represents a larger “pattern” in Baker’s behavior.

“Governor Baker, long before Donald Trump, ordered the state police to work with federal officials to round up immigrants,” Gonzalez said. “He opposed Syrian refugees resettling here. He stayed silent on transgender rights legislation…through that whole legislative process until (behind closed doors) it was put on his desk and he was forced to take action on it. That’s not leadership.”

Gonzalez served as Chair of the Health Connector Board until January 2013— he left just nine months prior to the launch and spectacular collapse of the Massachusetts Health Care Exchange, an enormous political scandal Gonzalez says he knew nothing about at the time. “I was there when the vendor was hired, and for the first couple of months when they were just getting started,” he said. “I was not there during the implementation of the project. I wasn’t there at all during the time when there were any issues…the [vendor] ended up being a disaster.”

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