So far, only one Democrat is openly eyeing this statewide race.
Even further below the radar is the contest for who might join the eventual Democratic nominee on the ticket.
Democratic activists, strategists, and officials say there is an unusual paucity of candidates for the number-two spot of lieutenant governor. Historically, that job has drawn multiple candidates from lower offices, who are seeking to raise their profiles and, if all goes well, secure one of the state’s six constitutional offices.
This time, party insiders say, there’s just one so far. Quentin Palfrey, a former science and technology policy official in the Obama administration, has been courting activists and says he’s “exploring” a run.
“I’m looking at it seriously, and I’ve been sort of thinking how that would fit and I’ve been listening to people across the state,” Palfrey told the Globe.
“I feel like this is a really scary time, with [President] Trump and an assault on our values,” Palfrey said, adding, “I want to be in the fray.”
In the last election cycle, with no incumbent, three Democrats were on the ballot. The 2006 campaign, when the seat was also open, saw a flurry of activity pre-primary, but also included three candidates on the ballot.
The winner of the Democratic primary for lieutenant governor would join the party’s gubernatorial nominee on the ticket, and they would face Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito.
As summer nears its end and down-ballot political activity usually picks up, other Democratic candidates could emerge. Boston city councilors Ayanna Pressley and Matt O’Malley, Norfolk register of probate Patrick McDermott, and New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell are among the names in circulation, according to Democrats keeping tabs on the race.
But, at least thus far, Palfrey has accounted for the most aggressive pre-campaigning, according to party insiders.
Currently the North American executive director of the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab, Palfrey was state counsel for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign after working as a White House senior adviser on science and technology.
He also worked in the US Department of Commerce and, prior to that, was health care division chief in the Massachusetts attorney general’s office.