GOV. CHARLIE BAKER was talking on Monday about what makes him run for elected office, but it seemed like he also could have been talking a bit of trash about one of his potential rivals.
On the Boston Public Radio show, Jim Braude asked the governor yet again whether he intended to run for reelection. But this time he posed the question with a slight twist, asking whether he would ever consider running as an independent to avoid a fight with Geoff Diehl in a Republican primary where the state’s pro-Trump Republicans could nominate one of their own.
Baker made clear he hasn’t made up his mind about running for an unprecedented third straight term – he promised a decision soon — and he indicated he would run as a Republican if he did decide to go for another four years.
“I’ve been a Republican for most of my adult life and I believe in my brand of Republicanism,” Baker said. “I guess what I would say is that I’ve never run for anything based on whether or not I thought I could win, period.”
Baker said he ran for the Select Board in Swampscott even though he was warned that if he ran and lost he’d never be able to run for governor. He ran anyway, and won.
Baker said he ran for governor in 2010 even though he faced an incumbent (Democrat Deval Patrick) and another statewide officeholder (Treasurer Tim Cahill). He lost.
And then he ran for governor again in 2014 even though many people told him: “You’re a loser, why would you bother to run and lose again?” He won that race and won again in 2018.
“I don’t sit around and say to myself can I win or not,” Baker said. “To me the question always comes down to what I said to you before, which is do I have the will, the desire, and the agenda that I believe will be in the state’s best interest and the energy and commitment to deliver on it.”
Baker’s statement can be taken at face value, but it can also be viewed as an attempt to draw a distinction between the political calculus he practices and the approach taken by Attorney General Maura Healey. Healey clearly covets the corner office, but she has stayed on the sidelines while Baker makes up his mind.
Three other Democrats – former state senator Ben Downing, Harvard professor Danielle Allen, and Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz of Jamaica Plain — have already jumped into the Democratic primary race for governor. But Healey, whose nearly $3.3 million campaign balance and statewide name recognition dwarf the others, has played a game of wait and see.
A recent University of Massachusetts Amherst/WCVB poll indicates Baker would beat Healey in a head-to-head matchup if he could survive a Republican primary, while Healey would be the favorite if Baker chooses not to run.
Is that why Healey is playing the waiting game and putting off a decision?