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Massachusetts voters who trekked to the voting booth in 2013 won't get much of a respite in 2014, with a slew of contested races on the ballot.
One of the most anticipated, and crowded, races is the open contest for governor.
Already five Democrats, two Republicans, and two independent candidates are vying for the seat held by Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick, who isn't seeking re-election.
On the GOP side, the top candidate is former Harvard Pilgrim Health Care CEO Charlie Baker, a veteran of the administrations of former Republican governors William Weld and Paul Cellucci.
Baker, who failed to unseat Patrick four years ago, has promised to run a more upbeat campaign, highlighting what he's called the "sunny" side of his personality. Shrewsbury business owner Mark Fisher is also seeking the Republican nomination.
On the Democratic side, two candidates - Attorney General Martha Coakley and state Treasurer Steve Grossman - are considered among the top tier.
Coakley has a strong political organization, having run a series of successful campaigns, including twice for attorney general and twice for Middlesex district attorney.
But she has to convince the state's Democratic faithful that she's shaken off her loss to Republican former U.S. Sen. Scott Brown in a special 2010 election to fill the seat held for nearly half a century by the late Democratic Sen. Edward Kennedy.
Although he's in his first term in elected office, Grossman has deep ties to Democratic activists after having served as the head of both the state and national parties. He's also already amassed a hefty campaign bank account.
Like Coakley, Grossman hasn't won every race, including an unsuccessful campaign for governor in 2002.
Three other Democratic challengers are hoping to break out of the pack: Newton pediatrician Don Berwick; former federal Homeland Security official Juliette Kayyem; and former Wellesley Selectman Joseph Avellone.
Two independents also are gubernatorial hopefuls - Jeffrey McCormick, the founder of the venture capital investment firm Saturn Partners, and Newton resident Evan Falchuk, who's running under the self-styled United Independent Party label.
Candidates are eyeing other open races, including contests for attorney general, treasurer and lieutenant governor, to fill the seats being vacated by Coakley, Grossman and former Lt. Gov. Tim Murray. No Democratic challengers are expected for incumbent state Secretary William Galvin or state auditor Suzanne Bump.
On the Democratic side, former state Sen. Warren Tolman, former top Coakley deputy Maura Healey and Clinton state Rep. Harold Naughton are hoping to replace Coakley as attorney general. No Republicans have jumped in the race yet.
For state treasurer, the former Democratic head of the Brookline Board of Selectmen, Deborah Goldberg, has announced her candidacy. Fellow Democratic state Sen. Barry Finegold of Andover and Wayland state Rep. Thomas Conroy are also weighing a bid for Grossman's seat.
For lieutenant governor, four Democratic candidates are seeking the party nomination: Steve Kerrigan, a former Lancaster selectman and chief of staff to former Attorney General Thomas Reilly; Mike Lake, president of Leading Cities, a network of businesses, municipal governments and universities; Whately Selectman Jonathan Edwards; and Holliston resident James Arena-DeRosa.
On the Republican side, former state Rep. Karyn Polito has teamed with Baker to run as a ticket, though Polito will have to run separately during the primary.
Every member of the state's all-Democratic U.S. House delegation is up for election this year, as is every member of the Massachusetts House and Senate.
One of the most closely watched races will be Democratic U.S. Rep. John Tierney's re-election campaign. Former Republican state Sen. Richard Tisei, who narrowly lost a 2012 bid to unseat Tierney, is looking at another run, as are two Democrats - immigration attorney Marisa DeFranco and Salem resident Seth Moulton.
Democratic U.S. Rep. William Keating is facing a challenge from Republican John Chapman, a former administration official for Gov. Mitt Romney.
One of the biggest questions this election year is whether U.S. Sen. Edward Markey will have a challenger when he faces election to a full six-year term. The Democrat won a special election in 2013 to fill out the rest of John Kerry's term after Kerry resigned to become secretary of state.
No Democrats are expected to run against Markey. On the Republican side, Gabriel Gomez, who lost to Markey in the special election, has been mentioned as a possible challenger, though no GOP candidate has officially entered the fray.
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