BOSTON (AP) — Juliette Kayyem, a former U.S. homeland security official, became the latest Democrat to announce plans to run for governor Wednesday and said she would travel the state in the coming months to introduce herself to voters.
Kayyem, 44, of Cambridge, is a mother of three and the daughter of Lebanese immigrants. She was raised in Los Angeles and graduated from Harvard University and Harvard Law School. She has never held elected office but has served in several state and federal government posts, most recently under President Barack Obama as assistant secretary for intergovernmental affairs in the Department of Homeland Security.
In announcing her campaign, Kayyem said she was motivated to run by a desire to protect and strengthen families and communities. She said she would seek long-term solutions, not quick fixes, to the state’s problems.
“I think I have a message about my experience in both state and federal government, my generational experience as a parent and as a woman, and that is different,” Kayyem said in an interview with The Associated Press.
Kayyem is the fifth Democrat and the first woman to enter the race to succeed Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick, who is not seeking a third term.
The jockeying more than a year before the September 2014 Democratic primary points to the need for candidates — particularly those like Kayyem who are not well-known among voters — to get an early jump on fundraising and to build a competitive statewide network.
State Treasurer Steven Grossman, Harwich state Sen. Dan Wolf, Newton pediatrician Don Berwick and former Wellesley selectman Joseph Avellone have declared their candidacies. Several other Democrats, including Attorney General Martha Coakley, U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano and Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone, are considering the race.
Republicans weighing bids for governor include former U.S. Sen. Scott Brown and Charles Baker, the former CEO of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care and the 2010 GOP nominee for governor.
Kayyem appears to have the closest ties to Patrick of any of the announced candidates, having served in his administration as undersecretary of homeland security before joining the Obama administration. She also worked under Patrick as a civil rights attorney at the Justice Department when Patrick was an assistant attorney general in the 1990s.
Patrick has indicated that he plans to stay neutral in the race, but an ability to tap into his formidable political organization could greatly benefit a candidate.
Kayyem said she has talked to Patrick as a friend and values his advice, “but only I can attract voters,” she added.
A lecturer in public policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, Kayyem stepped down as a columnist for The Boston Globe before announcing her candidacy. Her husband, David Barron, is a Harvard Law professor and former acting assistant attorney general in the Obama administration.
Berwick, like Kayyem, has strong ties to Obama, having served as head of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and helping lead implementation of the federal Affordable Care Act.
Grossman, the only current statewide elected official in the race, holds an early fundraising edge with $596,496 in his campaign account through mid-August, according to filings with the state Office of Campaign and Political Finance.
Berwick was next with $248,415.
Grossman urged the Democratic candidates this week to agree on a pledge to limit political advertising by outside groups, modeled after a similar pledge signed by Brown and Democrat Elizabeth Warren in the 2012 U.S. Senate race, won by Warren.