Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker is in no rush to announce his plans for a third term.
UMass Dartmouth's Shannon Jenkins is not surprised.
"For him, it makes no sense to commit early," Jenkins said. "His popularity ratings are quite high."
Jenkins says the two-term incumbent would enter the race as the clear front-runner.
"So that's why the big names in the Democratic Party haven't committed yet," Jenkins said.
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Leading that list is twice-elected Attorney General Maura Healey.
Left of Center's Mara Dolan, a Democratic state committeewoman, says Healey is "very popular."
"She's already got the support of organizations who will get in if she gets in," Dolan said.
She says Baker could be more vulnerable in 2022 facing a younger, more activist electorate, never mind a primary opponent, Geoff Diehl, a former state representative and Donald Trump's 2016 campaign co-chair in Massachusetts.
"Geoff Diehl probably can't beat him," Dolan said. "But he can raise a lot of issues that are uncomfortable for Gov. Baker."
Those issues include the COVID-19 disaster at the Holyoke Soldiers' Home and the state police overtime scandal.
Dolan says Baker would "have the toughest campaign he's had yet."
Still, Republican consultant Rob Gray expects Healey will stay out of the race if Baker is in.
"Unless she's ready for a dog fight. I mean, there's nothing in Charlie Baker's numbers that indicate that they're soft at all," Gray said. "The downside for Maura Healey is that if she runs for governor and loses, it probably ends her political future."
If Healey does run, Gray says it could impact the candidacies of the three Democrats who have already announced — former state Sen. Ben Downing, state Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz and Harvard University professor Danielle Allen.
"It wouldn't surprise me if one of the three tried to make a deal with Maura Healey to be her running mate and run as a ticket," Gray said.
As for a matchup against Diehl?
"I think he is secretly hoping Baker won't run and that his primary opponent will actually be Karyn Polito, the lieutenant governor,"
And what if both Baker and Healey decide not to run? Most agree, the race would then become a free-for-all with many more candidates jumping in.