Joe Avellone considering another run for governor’s office

Joe Avellone fell short in a 2014 effort to be the Democratic nominee for governor.
Joe Avellone fell short in a 2014 effort to be the Democratic nominee for governor.John Tlumacki/Globe Staff/File

Joe Avellone, the health care executive who fell short in a 2014 effort to be the Democratic nominee for governor, is open to making another bid, perhaps running against Governor Charlie Baker in 2018.

“I’ll be interested in how the Baker administration moves us forward,” he said. “If I believe there is a way I could contribute by the time 2018 comes around, I would be open to running.”

Avellone, who did not garner enough support at the 2014 state Democratic Party convention to make the primary ballot, said he has been working with Liberty Square Group, a firm that does political consulting, to help him stay involved.


“I have been interested in staying active in the party, and I really want to continue to see where I can contribute as we go forward,” said Avellone, a former surgeon who works at a biotechnology services company, Paraxel International.

In particular, Avellone said in a telephone interview, he is keen on focusing on an issue that he spoke about often during his 2014 campaign: the opioid addiction crisis in Massachusetts.

Democratic consultant Scott Ferson, president of Liberty Square Group, said it is “clearly the thing he had the most resonance with in talking to people around the state, and he brings a unique perspective with his medical background.”

Avellone loaned his 2014 campaign $270,000, according to state campaign finance filings. But he did not clear the threshold of convention delegate support needed to make last September’s primary ballot.

He’s not the only potential 2018 Democratic gubernatorial contender in the mix.

Three plugged-in state Democratic operatives who spoke on the condition of anonymity said Mayor Setti Warren of Newton has been having early, quiet conversations about a potential 2018 bid.

In a short telephone interview, Warren said, again and again, he’s focused on Newton and loves his job.


Several Warren donors spoke glowingly about him and see a bright future.

Joshua Boger, cofounder of and a director at Vertex Pharmaceuticals and a frequent Democrat donor, said Warren first came to his attention during the mayor’s short-lived 2011 bid for the Democratic nomination for US Senate.

Boger said he was wowed by Warren’s speech at the 2011 state Democratic Party convention and thought, “It’s too early, but this guy has a future.”

He and the mayor get together to chat a couple of times a year, Boger said, and he’s been impressed with Warren’s “level of compassion and competence in the same person.”

Boger added: “I’ve encouraged him to think about a broader platform. He acknowledges that’s something he’s thought about, but I don’t get the impression he’s just looking at steppingstones.”

Other Democratic elected officials that operatives mention as might-be candidates include US Representatives Katherine M. Clark and Seth W. Moulton.

Perhaps the most frequently spoken about potential Democratic candidate for governor in 2018 is Attorney General Maura Healey. But she has taken herself out of the running — at least for now.

“I am not running for governor,” she said on the cable news channel NECN in April.

“You will not run in four years, three years?” host Joe Battenfeld asked.

“No,” Healey replied. “Absolutely not.”

Baker, a Republican who beat Democrat Martha Coakley in November by 2 percentage points, is widely expected to run for reelection. An April poll found he had stratospheric 74 percent favorable and 70 percent job approval ratings. That well could have made him the most popular governor in the United States.


Several outside pollsters have said they expect his numbers to slide downward. But there is historical precedent for a Republican governor staying in the good graces of a state that tends to vote for Democrats: William F. Weld won a landslide reelection in 1994.

Democrats, of course, have a different political analogy they like to point to: George H.W. Bush had an approval rating of 89 percent in February 1991 and lost reelection to Bill Clinton the next November.

Joshua Miller can be reached at joshua.miller@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @jm_bos.