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Baker announces he won’t run for reelection

Anna Lamb
Baker announces he won’t run for reelection
Governor Charlie Baker announces further restrictions to help stop the spread of COVID-19 in the Commonwealth at a State House press conference on Dec. 22, 2020. PHOTO: Joshua Qualls/Governor’s Press Office

Governor Charlie Baker announced last week that he will not be seeking a third term, guaranteeing new leadership for the commonwealth in 2022.

In a letter to the public on behalf of himself and Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito, who announced she would join Baker in sitting out the upcoming election, Baker said the decision not to run comes after “months of discussion with our families.”

“Done right, these jobs require an extraordinary amount of time and attention, and we love doing them,” the letter goes on to say. “But we both want to be there with Lauren and Steve and our children for the moments, big and small, that our families will experience going forward.”

Baker has distinguished himself as a moderate Republican during his time in office, supporting abortion rights and same-sex marriage and distancing himself from the Trump-style politics gaining momentum since the former president’s election in 2016. Baker was to face one such candidate in the upcoming election, with Trump-backed conservative Geoff Diehl having declared his candidacy in July.

In response to the news, Massachusetts Republic Party Chairman Jim Lyons indicated the party is taking a rightward shift without Baker in office.

“We’re turning a new page here in Massachusetts,” he said in a statement. “Our party remains committed to the America-First agenda advocated by President Donald J. Trump, and it’s clear to me that Charlie Baker was shaken by President Trump’s endorsement of another Republican candidate in Geoff Diehl.”

Also running a campaign for the state’s top office are several Democrats, including state Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz, former state Sen. Ben Downing and Harvard professor Danielle Allen. Both Chang-Diaz and Allen are women of color, whose election would make history as the first female elected to the position.

However, Attorney General Maura Healey, who has not yet indicated whether she is running, is seen by political observers as a possible front-runner in the race for the Democratic nomination.

Several of the declared Democratic contenders indicated they would take the state on a leftward tack.

In a statement shared on Twitter, Allen told voters that when they go to choose their next leader, “Status quo is not an option. This gives us a moment of challenge and opportunity in Massachusetts.”

Allen and her democratic opponents all have highlighted racial and economic disparities as issues to be tackled by whoever holds power next.

Chang-Diaz said in a statement, “In 2022, our next Governor must be someone willing to take on challenges even when they’re hard — who recognizes the urgency of this moment, who tackles these issues with the courage to solve them, and who has a record of winning bold, systemic change on Beacon Hill.”

Another undeclared candidate is at-large Boston City Councilor Annissa Essaibi George, whom Dorchester Reporter Editor Gintautas Dumcius said “is taking a ‘close look’ at running for governor and is speaking with advisers about the race.”

In his nearly seven years as governor, Baker has faced several challenges, including the COVID-19 pandemic – with its economic fallout and climbing death tolls – along with housing insecurity and ongoing criminal justice abuse and instability. In addition to spending time with his family, Baker said a key reason for not running for reelection is the hope that he can make further progress on critical issues.

“If we were to run, it would be a distraction that would potentially get in the way of many things we should be working on for everyone in Massachusetts. We want to focus on recovery, not the grudge matches political campaigns can devolve into,” his letter said.