LOWELL, Mass. (AP) - State Treasurer Steven Grossman told delegates at the Massachusetts Democratic Party's annual convention Saturday that he was running for governor and said he would make paid family leave a top priority if elected.
"I think it's a moral and economic responsibility," Grossman said.
Grossman, former chief executive of Grossman Marketing Group, later said he's looking forward to a vigorous primary race and believes he has the business experience, skills and credibility to be the best nominee.
Delegates gathered in the Tsongas Center in Lowell to set a party platform, but much of the focus was on potential candidates for next year's governor's race. The declared candidates include Cape Cod state Sen. Dan Wolf, Newton pediatrician Joseph Berwick and Joseph Avellone, a former Wellesley selectman.
Attorney General Martha Coakley told reporters before addressing the convention that she's not ready to make a decision on whether she will run for governor or re-election as attorney general.
"I'm definitely thinking about it," she said.
Other possible Democratic candidates for governor include U.S. Reps. Michael Capuano and Stephen Lynch, Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone, state Environmental Secretary Richard Sullivan and Juliette Kayyem, former Massachusetts homeland security undersecretary.
The convention drew approximately 3,000 of the party faithful, whose support could provide the backbone of a winning campaign next year.
The race is wide open as Gov. Deval Patrick and former Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray have both said they are not in the running. Patrick has served two terms and won't seek a third. Murray resigned earlier this year to take a job as head of the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce.
Patrick addressed the convention and urged delegates to keep up the grassroots "Yes We Can" spirit. Before speaking, he greeted delegates and told a reporter that he will not be endorsing any Democrats running for his job in the primary, but said it will be a deep and exciting race.
On the Republican side, Charles Baker, former chief executive of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care and the 2010 Republican nominee for governor, is weighing another run for the job.
Former U.S. Sen. Scott Brown has also been mentioned as a possible GOP candidate.
The jockeying takes place 14 months before the party primaries for governor will be held.
Grossman, a former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, leaves the starting blocks with a clear early fundraising advantage, having reported $565,158 in his political account at the end of June. He raised more than $139,000 in the month of June alone.
Recent polls suggest that Coakley remains popular with Massachusetts voters despite her upset loss to Brown in the 2010 special election to succeed the late U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy.
Coakley has also been building up her campaign account. As of the end of June, she had a balance of nearly $256,000.
Democrats are feeling enthused following Markey's victory over Republican Gabriel Gomez in last month's special U.S. Senate election to fill the seat left vacant by John Kerry's resignation. But they are also keenly aware of the 16 years that Republicans controlled the governor's office before Patrick's election in 2006.
The declared Democratic candidates boasted of progressive credentials and touted executive experience.
Berwick, a former Obama administrator, said Hubert Humphrey was right when he said, "The moral test of government is how it treats those in the dawn of life, the children, in the twilight of life, the aged, and in the shadows of life, the sick, the needy, and the handicapped."
Wolf, founder of Cape Air, told delegates that climate change needs to be addressed and the false divide between economic health and a healthy environment must be erased.
Avellone, a corporate senior vice president of PAREXEL International, a global drug development company, said big businesses are needed as part of the push to create jobs.
"We have to think big and if we think big, we can succeed," he said.