SWAMPSCOTT, Mass. Republican Charlie Baker, who lost the 2010 gubernatorial race to Democratic incumbent Deval Patrick, announced Wednesday that he’s planning to take another run at the state’s top political office.
Baker said in a video posted online that he wanted “to rise above politics” and make “state government more affordable, accountable and business friendly.”
“I want a growing economy where every person who wants to work, can; great schools that ensure opportunity for every single child; vibrant economies for our cities and towns and communities and neighborhoods that are safe,” he said in the video, which shows Baker walking in a yard, dressed in jeans and a blue shirt, and speaking to the camera.
Baker is the former head of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care and served eight years in state government as human services secretary and budget chief for former Republican Govs. Paul Cellucci and William Weld.
He said he helped turn a billion-dollar deficit into a surplus while working in government, and rescued Harvard Pilgrim from the verge of bankruptcy, turning it into one of the nation’s most highly regarded health care providers.
“Let’s aim high,” he said. “Let’s be great, Massachusetts.”
Baker is the first Republican to enter the 2014 race.
Several Democrats have already declared their candidacies, including state Treasurer Steven Grossman, former Obama administration health care official Don Berwick, former federal and state homeland security official Juliette Kayyem and former Wellesley selectman Joseph Avellone.
The candidacy of another Democratic gubernatorial hopeful, state Sen. Dan Wolf, is pending the outcome of discussions with the state Ethics Commission over his ownership stake in Cape Air.
Democrats also are awaiting the decisions of several other possible candidates, including Attorney General Martha Coakley, U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano and Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone.
Coakley is expected to announce a decision this month. Capuano, a former mayor of Somerville, said last week that he’ll also have an announcement soon.
Weld called Baker “the most able person I have ever met in public life.”
“He and I served together for a long time,” Weld said Wednesday. “I think he has tremendous empathy for how people actually live and tremendous understanding of policy. I can’t think of a better person to be governor of any state.”
Grossman released a statement saying, “We know what Charlie’s message will be, the same message that voters overwhelmingly rejected in 2010: government can never work for the middle class.”
The field is wide open. Patrick has said he’s not running for a third term. Former Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray is also out of the running.
Massachusetts Democratic Party officials were quick to pounce on Baker’s announcement, tying him to the massive Big Dig and the soaring overruns that drove up the cost of the construction project, which buried the old overhead Central Artery in downtown Boston and built the Zakim Memorial Bridge and the third tunnel under Boston Harbor.
Baker and his wife, Lauren, have three children and live in Swampscott. He has spent the past three years at the venture capital firm General Catalyst Partners.
Associated Press writer Bob Salsberg in Boston contributed to this report.