Charlie Baker

Baker's Path to Reelection May Not Be Through the Republican Primary

A poll favors Gov. Charlie Baker to remain in the Massachusetts State House when compared to other potential gubernatorial candidates, but he trails behind Geoff Diehl among likely Republican primary voters; if he runs for reelection, he could do so as an independent candidate

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It's becoming the question in Massachusetts political circles: Will Gov. Charlie Baker run for reelection?

Political observers think Baker is showing signs of going for it. But perhaps the more intriguing question is, will he run as a Republican or an independent candidate?

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A poll last month showed sticking with his party may not be the best path for Baker, who already faces at least one Republican challenger, Geoff Diehl.

The poll shows Diehl with 50% support from likely Republican voters, and Baker with 29%.

"Whether Charlie is my guy or Geoff, I don't know enough yet to make that decision," said 2020 Republican Congressional candidate Helen Brady.

Brady is not surprised Baker's numbers are down.

"There is definitely a rift. When I was out running for Congress, there was a lot of anger. He's veering off a little far to the left," she said.

That perception from Republicans is why Baker could choose to run as an independent.

A new poll shows in a hypothetical matchup, Baker would beat popular Democratic Attorney General Maura Healey 32% to 26%, with Diehl coming in third at 21%.

"I think Charlie Baker is wildly popular with voters, and that he could win running as an independent or as a Republican," said Republican consultant Rob Gray. "He has two paths open to him."

Gray says the primary may look good for Diehl on paper, but when it comes to the actual race, it is Baker who has the experience.

"Charlie Baker would use his money and his influence to get unenrolled voters voting in the Republican primary, which is certainly achievable," Gray said.

Brady believes the party first needs to unite with MassGOP chair Jim Lyons, a staunch conservative and the subject of heavy criticism from Republican donors this summer. Lyons has had a very public split with the moderate Baker.

"To both men, I put a challenge," Brady said. "Why don't you go get in a room and duke it out?"

Baker has said his decision is coming soon.

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