Democrats Take New Look at Massachusetts Governor’s Race After Baker Withdrawal

The unexpected move sparked a frenzied day for Democrats in Massachusetts, with much of the talk and speculation focusing on State Attorney General Maura Healey and Labor Secretary Marty Walsh. The prospect of the two candidates opens up the possibility of a high-profile Democratic primary showdown in a deep blue state, but sources remain skeptical that the two will end up fighting each other.

Healey, who has served as attorney general since 2015, was planning to run against Baker ahead of Wednesday’s announcement, but a source familiar with the attorney general’s thought process said the governor’s decision “clears the way.”

The source said Wednesday’s news led the attorney general to receive “a huge amount” of “very favorable” appeals about his possible race. “Definitely, she enjoyed it,” the source concluded.

Healey would enter the competition with statewide name recognition and a substantial $ 3.3 million to the bank, making her one of the top contenders.

Walsh is also considering a governorship now that Baker has declined to run for a third term, a source close to the considerations told CNN.

Walsh, who is currently in his first year as Labor Secretary to President Joe Biden, previously served as mayor of Boston from 2014 to 2021. Like Healey, he would enter the race with both a significant war chest – he has over $ 5 million in his campaign account – and strong brand awareness.

But the likelihood of both Healey and Walsh choosing to run is slim, a source close to the two Democrats told CNN, with the most likely outcome being that Healey makes his decision first and Walsh responds to the prosecutor. general decides to do.

“They will not go against each other,” the source said. “They have a lot of respect for each other. … The secretary knows not to run against the attorney general because he’s smart.”

The Secretary of Labor’s friendship with Biden and unwillingness to deteriorate that relationship by quitting his job to run a campaign less than a year after taking over as head of the Labor Department weighs on Walsh, the source said.

Healey told Bloomberg on Wednesday that she was not ready to make a gubernatorial announcement and that she would “save that for another day.” She added that she would make her decision “soon”.

Walsh told CNN on Friday that he had “not really given a thought” to the gubernatorial contest. When asked if he would rule out a race, the Labor Secretary said he was focusing on his current role, but did not say he would rule it out.

Baker told reporters on Wednesday that he informed the Labor Secretary of his announcement in advance.

“I spoke with Secretary Walsh and it was basically a conversation to give him a warning if he hadn’t heard of it,” he said, adding that there had “no comment or conversation” on Walsh’s candidacy for governor.

Baker was seen as a political force in the state. While he narrowly won his first term in 2014 by around 2%, he skated to be re-elected in 2018 with 67% of the vote. Baker has long been considered one of the country’s most popular governors, which made his decision not to run for a third term even more surprising, as most political observers in the state believed he was a candidate for a third term if he wanted to.

But as broadly popular as Baker was, the base of the Republican Party hammered the governor for years for not being loyal enough to former President Donald Trump. Baker didn’t hesitate to oppose the former president – he told reporters he left his ballot blank in 2016 and 2020 and the governor has become the main critic of how Trump has handled the coronavirus pandemic.

Trump, who used his post-presidential backers to berate those who opposed him in power, endorsed the decision of conservative Republican Geoff Diehl to challenge Baker in the Republican primary and even Jim Lyons, chairman of the Massachusetts Republican Party. , turned against the Republican governor.

“Our party remains committed to the America-First agenda advocated by President Donald J. Trump, and it is clear to me that Charlie Baker has been shaken by President Trump’s endorsement of another Republican candidate for Geoff Diehl “Lyons said in a statement Wednesday. Baker, when asked about the statement, said he was not shaken by any endorsement from Trump.

But a source close to Baker’s thought said the governor was fed up with opposition from his own party.

“He’s done,” a source close to Baker’s plans said. “When Republicans in Massachusetts have a Democratic governor, they can thank their beloved Donald Trump.”

This is an area where some Republicans and Democrats agree.

Massachusetts Democratic Party Chairman Gus Bickford applauded Baker’s decision on Wednesday, saying “the takeover of MassGOP by the Donald Trump wing of the Republican Party is over.”

And David Turner, spokesperson for the Democratic Governors Association, said Thursday that “Massachusetts has gone from a race that we were watching to one of the best pickup opportunities in the country, and it’s all because Donald Trump reduced Baker’s ability to win a GOP. primary. “

“This has implications that go beyond Bay State, as Trump’s revenge mission spreads across the country,” Turner said. “Pass the popcorn.”

Healey and Walsh aren’t the only Democrats considering an offer, and several Democrats were already in the running before Baker stepped down.

Former state senator Ben Downing, Harvard professor Danielle Allen and state senator Sonia Chang-Díaz all declared their gubernatorial candidacies ahead of Baker’s decision.

Downing responded to Baker’s news by subtly shooting who might come in because of the hole left by his decision.

“When I announced my candidacy in February 2021, I didn’t do it to run against Charlie Baker or any other candidate – but because I was tired of seeing Beacon Hill refuse to urgently act on the greatest challenges of our time, ”Downing said in a statement.

“It’s a big day,” Allen tweeted in response to Baker’s news. “I started exploring this race last December and entered last June because I was sure the status quo was not an option. Today Governor Baker and Lieutenant Governor Polito are okay. The status quo is not an option. “

About Ethel Partin

Check Also

Bayview Hotel returns as title sponsor of Armoy Road Races

The Armoy Motorcycle Road Racing Club (AMRRC) has confirmed the title sponsor of this year’s …