Baker, Polito say they won’t seek re-election
Two-term governor, LG pass on going for 3d term, ending an era
IT’S THE NEWS all of the Massachusetts political world has waited for, and now that it’s here, it will set off a flurry of activity on the state’s political landscape.
Gov. Charlie Baker got the ball rolling himself on Monday, when he said in a radio interview that he was “pretty close” to announcing a decision about whether he’ll seek a third term next year. On Tuesday evening, former Boston Globe reporter Frank Phillips, who seems to pop out of his retirement leisure every six months or so to tweet a big scoop, said the announcement would come today – and added, “Rumors swirl he won’t go for a third term.”
Today they are more than rumors, as Baker is calling “allies” this morning to let them know of his pending announcement that he won’t run for reelection next year. Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito wrote in a joint letter to supporters that with the state focused on COVID recovery, “If we were to run, it would be a distraction that would potentially get in the way of many of the things we should be working on for everyone in Massachusetts.” They said they also wanted to spend more time with their families.
Speculation has been building for months over whether Baker would run again. No Massachusetts governor has ever served three straight four-year terms — Michael Dukakis served three terms, but not consecutively.
While many had assumed that a Baker exit would mean his loyal lieutenant governor would look to carry the torch of more moderate Republicanism against Trump-backed former state representative Geoff Diehl, who is already seeking the GOP nomination, that is not to be. The joint statement from Baker and Polito said she also will not be running for office next year.
Polito’s decision will only intensify questions about the future of the Massachusetts Republican Party, which has seen its already thin ranks in the Legislature shrink even more under the leadership of controversial party chairman Jim Lyons, a hard-right Trump acolyte.
On the Democratic side, the huge question now will be whether Attorney General Maura Healey enters the race for governor. She has held off on any announcement so far. The conventional thinking was that Healey was waiting to hear what Baker would do, and that she would probably not run against him but very likely would jump in if he were not running. Even if that is the exact behind-the-scenes calculus and she’s been patiently waiting for word from Baker, Healey may hold off making an announcement right away to avoid the perception that she was, well, patiently waiting for word from Baker.
Three Democrats are already in the gubernatorial race – state Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz, former state senator Ben Downing, and Harvard professor Danielle Allen – though none have the statewide recognition and campaign war chest of Healey.Meanwhile, if Healey does take the plunge, it will open up the race for attorney general. Already eyeing a Democratic primary run for AG are Quentin Palfrey, who was the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor in 2018, and prominent labor lawyer Shannon Liss-Riordan, who entered the Democratic primary against US Sen. Ed Markey last year, but then withdrew after then-Rep. Joe Kennedy also entered the race.
Let the domino falling begin.