Trump calls Baker a RINO

Claims governor is unsuccessfully defending mail-in ballots

PRESIDENT TRUMP called Gov. Charlie Baker a Republican in name only in a Friday morning tweet responding to the governor’s rebuke of him for failing to commit to a peaceful transfer of power after the election. 

“RINO Governor Charlie Baker of Massachusetts is unsuccessfully trying to defend Mail In Ballots, when there is fraud being found all over the place,” Trump tweeted to his 86.2 million followers. “Just look at some of the recent races, or the Trump Ballots in Pennsylvania that were thrown into the garbage. Wrong Charlie!” 

The RINO charge is nothing Baker hasn’t heard before, but it’s a bit different when it comes from the president and the titular head of the national Republican Party. Baker is socially liberal and fiscally conservative, and of late has been endorsing moderate Democrats and Republicans at the federal, state, and local level. 

Baker defended the expansion of mail-in voting at a Thursday press conference, saying the system “worked just fine” in Massachusetts, “the same way it worked just fine across the rest of the country.” Both Baker and Trump voted by mail in the primary, with Trump sending in his ballot in Florida.  

The September 1 primary drew record turnout in Massachusetts, with 1.7 million voters casting their ballots. Voters will again get a shot to mail in their ballots for the November 3 election.  

In response to a question about Trump’s refusal to commit to a peaceful transition of power, Baker minced no words at his Thursday press conference. “It is appalling and outrageous that anyone would suggest for a minute that if they lose an election they’re not going to leave — period,” Baker said Thursday. “I know that I speak, I am sure, for the vast majority of elected officials in the United States of America when I say that.” 

Trump on Wednesday again declined to commit to a peaceful transfer of power if Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden wins.  

“We’re going to have to see what happens,” Trump saidin response to a reporter asking if he would make such a pledge to voters. “You know that I’ve been complaining very strongly about the ballots, and the ballots are a disaster.” 

Trump’s Friday morning Twitter comments about mailin voting appear to be related to reports of nine ballots in a Pennsylvania county being discarded, including seven votes for himself. Other than this incident, there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud when it comes to sending ballots in by mail.  

Friday afternoon, a spokeswoman for Baker shrugged off Trump’s attack. “The Baker-Polito Administration has complete confidence in Massachusetts’ mailin voting system that worked as designed in the recent primary elections, and the governor stands by his statements,” said Lizzy Guyton. 

The state Republican party said Trump isn’t wrong.  

Meet the Author

Sarah Betancourt

Reporter, CommonWealth

About Sarah Betancourt

Sarah Betancourt is a long-time Latina reporter in Massachusetts. Prior to joining Commonwealth, Sarah was a breaking news reporter for The Associated Press in Boston, and a correspondent with The Boston Globe and The Guardian. She has written about immigration, incarceration, and health policy for outlets like NBC, The Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism, and the New York Law Journal. Sarah has reported stories such as a national look at teacher shortages, how databases are used by police departments to procure information on immigrants, and uncovered the spread of an infectious disease in children at a family detention center. She has covered the State House, local and national politics, crime and general assignment.

Sarah received a 2018 Investigative Reporters and Editors Award for her role in the ProPublica/NPR story, “They Got Hurt at Work and Then They Got Deported,” which explored how Florida employers and insurance companies were getting out of paying workers compensation benefits by using a state law to ensure injured undocumented workers were arrested or deported. Sarah attended Emerson College for a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Communication, and Columbia University for a fellowship and Master’s degree with the Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism.

About Sarah Betancourt

Sarah Betancourt is a long-time Latina reporter in Massachusetts. Prior to joining Commonwealth, Sarah was a breaking news reporter for The Associated Press in Boston, and a correspondent with The Boston Globe and The Guardian. She has written about immigration, incarceration, and health policy for outlets like NBC, The Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism, and the New York Law Journal. Sarah has reported stories such as a national look at teacher shortages, how databases are used by police departments to procure information on immigrants, and uncovered the spread of an infectious disease in children at a family detention center. She has covered the State House, local and national politics, crime and general assignment.

Sarah received a 2018 Investigative Reporters and Editors Award for her role in the ProPublica/NPR story, “They Got Hurt at Work and Then They Got Deported,” which explored how Florida employers and insurance companies were getting out of paying workers compensation benefits by using a state law to ensure injured undocumented workers were arrested or deported. Sarah attended Emerson College for a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Communication, and Columbia University for a fellowship and Master’s degree with the Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism.

In a statement, chairman Jim Lyons said the state’s new mail-in ballot request website grants anyone the ability to ask for one without having to submit a signatureHe said the party has received messages, including from a Hanovetown clerk, claiming the system is “ripe” for fraud.  

“The discovery falls in line with President Donald Trump’s recent criticisms of Massachusetts’ mail-in voting plan, which will determine the outcome of November’s general elections,” said Lyons in the statement.  

Calling the system “absolutely shameful,” Lyons said Democrats should not be dismissive of the President’s concerns of potential voter fraud.