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Republican Gov. Charlie Baker of Massachusetts announced on Wednesday that he won’t seek a third term in 2022.
“After several months of discussion with our families, we have decided not to seek re-election in 2022,” the popular governor and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito announced in an email to supporters.
“This was an extremely difficult decision for us,” the two GOP politicians explained. “We love the work, and we especially respect and admire the people of this wonderful Commonwealth. Serving as Governor and Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts has been the most challenging and fulfilling jobs we’ve ever had. We will forever be grateful to the people of this state for giving us this great honor.”
Baker first ran for governor in 2010, narrowly losing to Democratic incumbent Gov. Deval Patrick. Four years later he edged out then-Democratic state Attorney General Martha Coakley to win the governorship in the blue state of Massachusetts. He won a second term in 2018 by a landslide.
FILE — Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker delivers his state of the state address Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020, in the House Chamber at the Statehouse, in Boston. Baker said Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2021 that he won’t seek a third term as governor of Massachusetts. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)
Baker was one of the most aggressive GOP governors the past two years in combating the coronavirus, the worst pandemic to strike the globe in a century. He ordered lockdowns and other public health restrictions that many other Republican governors strongly resisted. Baker’s handling of the COVID crisis angered conservatives in the Bay State, but he won praise from independents and even Democrats. That included President Biden, who complimented Baker at an event this past spring.
President Biden waves as he walks to board Air Force One, at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2021. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Baker and Polito said the ongoing battle against the pandemic was a key part in their decision not to seek reelection next year.
“We have all been going through an extraordinarily difficult pandemic, and the next year will be just as important, if not more important, than the past year. We have a great deal of work to do to put the pandemic behind us, keep our kids in school, and keep our communities and economy moving forward. That work cannot and should not be about politics and the next election,” they said.
“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. We want to focus on recovery, not on the grudge matches political campaigns can devolve into,” the two politicians added.
Baker long enjoyed sky high approval and favorable ratings among Massachusetts voters. And while his numbers have slipped from the stratosphere in recent months, they’re still well above water. But Baker’s more popular nowadays among independents and Democrats than voters in his own party – and if he had run again in 2022 he may have had more trouble winning the GOP nomination than the general election.
A key part of the anger by many Bay State Republicans against Baker has been his outspoken criticism of former President Donald Trump, who remains extremely popular and influential with GOP voters and politicians. Baker supported the first impeachment of then-President Trump in 2019, and called on him to be ousted from office after the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol by Trump supporters aiming to overturn congressional certification of Biden’s 2020 election victory.
Trump supporters protest outside a town hall meeting where U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Mich.) is speaking on Monday, Dec. 16, 2019, in the Oakland Center at Oakland University in Rochester, Mich. (Jake May/The Flint Journal via AP)
Trump earlier this year endorsed former state representative Geoff Diehl for the 2022 GOP gubernatorial nomination. Diehl last ran for office in 2018, when he won the Republican Senate nomination before being convincingly defeated by Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren by 24 points.
The Republican Governors Association emphasized that Baker’s “success is proof Republicans are able to win and govern successfully in any state, no matter how blue it might be.”
“Had he chosen to seek a third term I have no doubt he would have easily been re-elected because the voters recognize what a strong leader he has been for their state,” RGA chair and Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey added in his statement.
But Ducey made no mention of keeping the Massachusetts governor’s office in GOP hands.
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