It's rare for Massachusetts gubernatorial candidate Jay Gonzalez and his wife, Cyndi, to be at their Needham home at the same time since the Democrat's campaign heated up many months ago.
Gonzalez faces an uphill battle against the popular Republican incumbent, Gov. Charlie Baker. But Gonzalez is tenacious and competitive, qualities he honed on the soccer field as a young boy growing up outside Cleveland.
On the campaign trail, Gonzalez often tells the story of how his parents met.
“My mom is from Cleveland, went away on a foreign exchange program to Spain in college and came back married to my 19-year-old Spanish father and pregnant with me,” he said.
Speaking only Spanish, Gonzalez’s father became a bricklayer in the Cleveland sewer system. His mother dropped out of college to raise the kids. When Jay was in high school, the Ivy League came calling.
“I didn’t really know about East Coast schools," he said. "Then I got a call from the head coach at Dartmouth College.”
Gonzalez went on to law school at Georgetown University and worked for a series of firms -- ultimately in Boston -- always for government clients.
In 2005, he became intrigued with a man named Deval Patrick, who was mounting a long-shot bid for governor.
“I was reading about this guy in the paper and thinking, 'I really like what I’m reading about him,'” Gonzalez said.
A volunteer job on the campaign led to an offer to join the administration.
Gonzalez ultimately became Secretary of Administration and Finance -- the state’s top budget job.
Cyndi Gonzalez said that besides being smart and creative, her husband has a key attribute which would make him a great governor.
“I have never met anyone who is so curious -- what makes them tick,” she said.
Gonzalez has two children from a previous marriage and is an avid runner, a hobby he shares with his wife.