Still, Galluccio can claim to have helped form the Cambridge Health Alliance and Energy Alliance. And in his literature targeted to Cambridge voters, the word “progressive” appears prominently; readers are told of his support for Cape Wind, marriage equality, reproductive freedom, “progressive tax reforms,” closing corporate tax loopholes, and in-state tuition for illegal immigrants.

Galluccio has even landed endorsements from two progressive groups: Mass Alliance and Progressive Democrats of Cambridge. But his opponents are downplaying the importance, and even the liberal bone fides of those groups.

Often, however, this animosity from the left seems more personal than ideological — due, in part, to the fact that many have simply never forgiven him for running against Wolf in 1996, when Wolf, the city’s former mayor, prevailed against Galluccio to first become a state representative.

“The left doesn’t like him, because he ran against Queen Alice,” says one elected official who is remaining neutral in the race.

In fact, Galluccio not only ran, he ran tough and aggressively — dirty, some still say. Then he ran another tough campaign against Barrios in 2002, for the open State Senate seat. Barrios pummeled Galluccio in the Cambridge precincts by a two-to-one margin, and won that race.

For his part, Galluccio attributes his 2002 loss to his concentration on other areas of the district where he had never before run. “I let Jarrett roam free in Cambridge,” he says. “And you can never, never, let Jarrett roam free. He’s too good.”

But the other candidates running against Galluccio this time suggest that he simply isn’t popular in the Senate district’s portion of Cambridge.

The question is: do Cantabrigians have another Barrios to vote for instead?

That is, can another candidate appeal to the Harvard Square set, while also drawing in voters from Everett and Chelsea? Could another candidate “connect 02138 with the blue-collar communities north of Boston,” as Galluccio puts it?

That’s where Flaherty comes in.

Sources close to both Flaherty and Barrios say that Wolf, along with progressive activists Avi Green, Mark Puleo, and others, encouraged Flaherty to enter the race. (Wolf, who is on vacation, could not be reached for comment.)

Flaherty, whose father represented Cambridge and served as Speaker of the House on Beacon Hill in the early 1990s, describes himself as a liberal, well-educated, regular guy from a blue-collar background. That’s the ideal profile for the district, and an excellent description of the two men who have held the seat since it was re-shaped through redistricting: Barrios and Tom Birmingham.

It also fits Galluccio; in fact, Flaherty and Galluccio, just a year apart in age, are remarkably similar on paper. While Flaherty pursued his triple-Eagle education — BC High, Boston College, and BC Law — Galluccio was attending Cambridge Rindge and Latin, Providence College, and Suffolk Law. (Neither, however, can quite match the educational pedigree of Birmingham, a Rhodes Scholar with degrees from Harvard University and Harvard Law, or Barrios, who studied at Harvard and Georgetown Law.)

There is one major difference between the two candidates, though. While Galluccio has been a regular candidate for office, and never misses a chance to mix and mingle to raise his profile, Flaherty has kept a low public profile aside from his one other campaign, in 1998, when he lost the Middlesex District Attorney race to Martha Coakley.

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