Businessman Jeffrey McCormick joins governor’s race

Jeffrey S. McCormick, a wealthy Boston businessman who is formally launching an independent candidacy for governor Tuesday, is promising to make jobs and economic growth his top priorities and to shun special interests.

A newcomer to politics, McCormick showed some political pugnacity in an interview Monday, when he took a slap at Charlie Baker, saying the GOP establishment’s favored candidate cannot offer a bold, special interest-free approach to governing.

“He’s not an innovator,’’ McCormick said of Baker. “We need broad solutions. We can no longer take incremental steps.’’


If his candidacy gains strength, McCormick would be competing with Baker for the bloc of independents and moderate Democrats that decide statewide elections. But even with his wealth, which he said he will use to help finance his race, McCormick faces a tough task gaining traction in a state that has traditionally rejected independent candidacies.

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Still, McCormick, a 52-year old native of upstate New York who lives in the Back Bay, said he is convinced that his independence and business background will be key to persuading voters that he can fix the dysfunction he said plagues state politics and the decision-making on Beacon Hill.

“The system is so broken,’’ he said. “With the problems we have and opportunities for change and the lack of any solutions, someone has to step up and say they are the catalyst to get there.”

Still, McCormick’s proposals so far are only broad statements on economic growth and do not include detailed policies.

Many of them echo platforms of previous candidates. He speaks of creating “opportunity zones” for the state’s older cities, “tax incentives to spur job creation,” and reductions in energy costs and regulations. Like Baker, he wants the state to seek a waiver from the federal health care law.


When pressed to provide further details, McCormick would only talk about “bold solutions” and repeatedly referred to his business background, which includes launching Boston Duck Tours 20 years ago and building a biodiesel firm in Quincy. He said those have taught him to provide more innovative approaches than Baker, a business executive who has held two state Cabinet posts, or the five Democrats can provide.

As governor, McCormick said he would not immediately look for tax reductions because the state needs the funds to invest in education and job creation. He also said he opposes casinos and would vote to repeal the law creating them if the issue makes the ballot in November.

McCormick said he hopes to duplicate the political and governing success that Maine’s former independent governor Angus King, now a US senator, gained nearly 20 years ago and which he attributed to King’s not “being beholden to special interests.”

McCormick joins an already crowded field vying to succeed Governor Deval Patrick, including two other independent candidates, five Democrats and two Republicans.

Frank Phillips can be reached at