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Primary guide: Governor

Here’s a look at the candidates on the Sept. 4 primary ballot, with biographies reported and compiled by Globe staff and correspondents. Candidates have also filled out a brief survey at our request.


Supreme executive magistrate of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, responsible for overseeing 42,000 state employees, proposing and executing a state budget approved by the Legislature, nominating judges, putting forward legislation to benefit residents, commanding the state’s armed forces, comforting Massachusetts in crises, and cheering local sports teams.


Charlie Baker. David L Ryan/Globe Staff

Charles D. Baker

Baker, a fixture in and around the State House for decades and long seen as wonkish star, started his career after graduating Harvard College working as communications director for two business-backed groups, first the New England Council, then the Massachusetts High Technology Council. After getting his MBA from Northwestern University, Baker worked as a consultant for the company that is now Deloitte before helping found and lead the economically conservative Pioneer Institute think tank. Governor William F. Weld brought Baker into state government in 1991, and the young policy aide quickly hopscotched up the ranks to eventually lead the health and human services and then budget bureaucracies. He slimmed down, privatized, and reformed parts of government, drawing opprobrium and praise, and earning a reputation as one of Massachusetts’ “brightest, brashest, and most ideological” government leaders.

Baker left for the private sector in 1998 and spent 10 years as chief executive of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, credited with pulling the company back from the edge of fiscal failure and turning it into one of the nation’s top health insurers. He stepped down to run for governor in 2010. Baker staked out ground in favor of abortion rights and gay marriage and chose an openly gay state senator as his running mate. But the Swampscott Republican pushed a bitter, anti-establishment message that tried to tap into the country’s swelling Tea Party anger and used the slogan “Had Enough?”A new, more affable candidate emerged three years later, as well as a new slogan: “Let’s be great, Massachusetts!” On the trail, Baker, sporting a sunny disposition, emphasized bipartisanship, support for cities and towns, and high-quality schools. He created contrast with Democrat Martha Coakley on taxes and fees — he said she would raise them and he wouldn’t — and won by 40,000 votes, the narrowest gubernatorial victory margin in generations.


As governor, Baker, 61, drew praise for his handling of the massive snowstorms that pummeled the state just weeks into his tenure, and immediately worked with the Democratic Legislature to close a budget gap and begin crafting what would become a nation-leading law to fight the scourge of opioid overdoses. Under pressure, he signed major progressive laws championed by Democrats, strengthening protections for transgender people, reforming the criminal justice system, tightening gun control, and creating a massive new paid leave system supported by a big new payroll tax. Critics have slammed Baker for mismanagement at the State Police, where several troopers are accused of stealing taxpayer money. And his opponents have knocked him as bereft of a broad vision for the Commonwealth. But the governor says efficient and thrifty government and connecting more and more people to the growing economy through better education, technology, and health is big vision enough. And there’s more work left for him to do, he says.


What’s the most pressing issue facing the Commonwealth?* Our schools are the best in the nation and our economy and communities grow stronger each day. We’re moving in the right direction but have more to do to ensure Massachusetts remains a leader. We must continue to protect taxpayers and small businesses, build more housing for working families, and improve the reliability of the MBTA so our economy remains competitive for development and job growth. We’ll continue to pursue aggressive reforms to curb the opioid epidemic and increase investments in public schools, workforce training, and higher education to help our students and families succeed.


It’s January 2019, and you’re in the corner office. What sweeping change, if any, do you try to implement in state government? We’re working on implementing several major pieces of legislation now and in the years to come, including sweeping criminal justice system reforms and a host of new treatment tools, like recovery coaches, to combat the opioid epidemic. We’ll be training caregivers in addressing dementia and Alzheimer’s to make Massachusetts more age-friendly. We will continue to make historic and targeted investments in our public schools to address health care and transportation costs, and work closely with teachers and the Legislature on a bipartisan, empowerment zone model to help close the achievement gap.

How are you different from your primary opponent? We’ve worked hard to deliver bipartisan, common-sense, results-oriented leadership that is reforming state government, and making our economy, communities, schools, and families stronger than ever. We have consistently offered an inclusive vision that recognizes and celebrates Massachusetts’ diversity and support for marriage equality and women’s access to health care services. My opponent’s hateful actions and rhetoric have no place in public or private life, are not credible, and do not offer Republican primary voters any opportunity to impact positive changes for the people of Massachusetts.


Where’s your favorite place to take a day trip in Mass.? Whatever your interest is, there’s plenty to do – we enjoy getting out to the Big E in the fall, the countless local feasts and festivals that offer a lot of family fun, going for a walk in the Blue Hills or Lynn Woods, and taking in the great beaches in Gloucester or along the Cape.

Scott Lively.Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe

Scott D. Lively

A Massachusetts native born and raised in Shelburne Falls, Lively, 60, was an alcoholic and drug addict for about 16 years and was saved by faith in 1986, he says, when he surrendered his life to Jesus Christ. He became an activist deeply involved in efforts against abortion and gay people in Oregon and other parts of the country. A pastor and lawyer, Lively recently wrote that he is “strongly opposed to the gay agenda because I believe the agenda is a threat to the continuation of historically Judeo-Christian, marriage-based civilization as God designed and intended it for the benefit of mankind.”

Lively moved back to Massachusetts in 2008 to stand for “biblical values” in his home state, which was the main reason, he said, for his longshot independent run for governor in 2014. He qualified for the ballot but garnered less than 1 percent of the vote. This year, the Springfield resident is running as a Republican and won sufficient support among Republicans to qualify for the primary ballot. At the state party convention, he called himself “100 percent pro-life . . . 100 percent for the Second Amendment . . . 100 percent for Trump.” That was music to many conservative activists’ ears, who see Baker as a RINO — Republican in Name Only.


What’s the most pressing issue facing the Commonwealth? Widespread public corruption.

It’s January 2019, and you’re in the corner office. What sweeping change, if any, do you try to implement in state government? Immediately end patronage and then audit every department for waste, fraud and abuse and prosecute the worst offenders.

How are you different from your primary opponent? I am immune to corruption. Mr. Baker is deeply enmeshed in it.

Where’s your favorite place to take a day trip in Mass.? Anywhere my sweet wife Anne is.


Jay Gonzalez.John Tlumacki/Globe Staff

Jay M. Gonzalez

The son of an Ohio-born woman and Spain-born man who met when she was on a foreign exchange program, Gonzalez grew up in Ohio, went to Dartmouth College, and, after stints as a private sector bond lawyer, joined the administration of Governor Deval Patrick. He first served as a deputy in the state budget office before being promoted to the state’s most powerful unelected executive branch position: secretary of the Executive Office for Administration and Finance. Taking the reins of the state budget a decade after Baker held the same post, Gonzalez helped guide the state through three post-recession years, figuring out how to spend about $30 billion a year in taxpayer money.

Gonzalez headed back to the private sector in 2013, becoming an executive at CeltiCare Health Plan of Massachusetts, and later becoming president and chief executive of that insurer as well as one in New Hampshire. Gonzalez, 47, of Needham, pitches himself as a progressive — pressing for a living wage, debt-free college, single-payer health care, a transportation system people can count on — anchored by his deep knowledge of how Massachusetts leaders can turn ideas into reality. “I have leadership experience in state government getting big things done,” he said recently.

What’s the most pressing issue facing the Commonwealth? Our broken transportation system. We are now stuck in traffic for longer and paying higher fares for disabled trains and reduced bus service. We have among the longest commute times in the country, and the condition of our infrastructure is near the bottom. It affects people’s quality of life every single day, and it threatens our economic growth. We need to fix and improve our transportation system all across this state with a sense of urgency.

It’s January 2019, and you’re in the corner office. What sweeping change, if any, do you try to implement in state government? I will pursue an ambitious agenda in a number of areas, including: a) fixing and improving our broken transportation system so people can depend on it to get to work on time; b) fully funding our public schools and giving every child access to high-quality, affordable childcare and preschool; c) more aggressively fighting the opioid crisis; d) delivering a single-payer health care system that is simpler, cheaper and gives everyone access to the health care services they need; and e) being a leader in taking on climate change.

How are you different from your primary opponent? I have leadership experience in both state government and the private sector getting big things done. As Governor Patrick’s secretary of administration and finance, I not only successfully managed the state budget during the Great Recession, I was often Governor Patrick’s point person for working with the Legislature and other stakeholders to achieve major reforms. Both candidates are offering an ambitious agenda, but it’s not going to matter what we want to do unless we actually deliver on it. Based on my experience and record of success, I believe I’m best positioned to do so.

Where’s your favorite place to take a day trip in Mass.? One of the great things about Massachusetts is how many incredible places we have to experience and enjoy. If I had to pick just one, it would be spending an afternoon with friends and family at Fenway taking in a Red Sox game.

Bob Massie. John Tlumacki/Globe Staff

Bob Massie

Massie, 62, has triumphed over hemophilia that left him confined to a wheelchair as a child, HIV and Hepatitis C from blood transfusions, and survived a long wait for a liver transplant. He’s earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Princeton University, a master’s in divinity from Yale University, and a doctorate from Harvard Business School. An ordained Episcopal minister, he helped found a homeless shelter in New York; lived in South Africa and wrote a definitive history of US relations with that country during the Apartheid era; was the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor (on a losing ticket in 1994); led a sustainability nonprofit linking environmental groups and institutional investors; and helped found another nonprofit focused on reshaping the economy along more small-d democratic lines.

Massie, of Somerville, is running for governor framing himself as a strong progressive with a focus on climate justice and sweeping economic change, including support for single-payer health care and free public higher education. “We may talk the talk of justice,” he said this spring. “But unless we actually walk the walk of fighting institutional racism, building the power of women, advancing LGBTQ and disability rights, defending unions, stopping wage theft, and expanding opportunity — then we will be a hollow shell.”

What’s the most pressing issue facing the Commonwealth?* Through successive administrations, we’ve seen a steady erosion of our public resources; whether that be transportation, education, or assistance to the neediest in the state. As Governor Weld admitted over 20 years ago, the MBTA is underfunded by one to two billion dollars, our schools are so strapped for funding that they are suing the state for adequate resources to pay livable wages for their teachers and buy supplies for their students. While these problems existed when Charlie Baker entered office, his administration has dangerously exacerbated all of them.

It’s January 2019, and you’re in the corner office. What sweeping change, if any, do you try to implement in state government? While there are many things I’ll act swiftly on once in office, we need to begin by addressing climate change, which is perhaps the most pressing issue of our time. In 1992, I organized a conference with Al Gore to discuss how we can effectively respond to climate change; I thought we were running out of time then, and the issue has only become worse over the last 26 years. In office, I’ll remove barriers to solar power and restructure our Department of Public Utilities so that it starts protecting consumers and the planet, not the interests of National Grid and Eversource.

How are you different from your primary opponent? If you want the status quo, vote for Charlie or Jay. If you want a governor who works for all the people, not just for special interest groups – if you want a governor who can fix things and bring positive change, not just appoint study commissions – if you want a people’s governor who will bring lasting structural change that reflects 21st century capabilities, instead of hearing an endless string of “we can’t have thats,” then vote for me, Bob Massie, for governor.

Where’s your favorite place to take a day trip in Mass.? I love going to Newburyport and Gloucester when I can, not only does my aunt live there, but the fresh seafood can’t be beat.

Read more from the Globe about this race and its candidates:

Bob Massie brings a progressive agenda, eclectic background

From gubernatorial candidate Jay Gonzalez, a promise to be bold

Baker is officially running for reelection. Here’s a fact-check of his first big campaign speech

The Democrats running for governor must be wondering when the cavalry arrives

Scott Lively says politicians are ‘using addicts like cash cows’

Baker says he does have a vision for the T: ‘Making it work’

Can traffic be an election issue? Two Democrats running for governor hope so

Massie, Gonzalez try to create daylight between themselves during gubernatorial debate

With few policy differences, Jay Gonzalez and Bob Massie put focus on experience

An asterisk (*) notes campaign representatives said they filled out the survey questions on behalf of the candidates.

The Globe’s primary guide was written by Globe correspondents Matt Stout, Marek Mazurek, Sophia Eppolito, and Jamie Halper, as well as Joshua Miller, Maria Cramer, Michael Levenson, Milton J. Valencia and Stephanie Ebbert of the Globe staff.

It was compiled and edited by Shira Center, and produced by Christina Prignano.