August 30, 2005


Baker picks family over campaign: Says he won't run for governor (Frank Phillips, August 30, 2005, Boston Globe)

Harvard Pilgrim Health Care chief executive Charles D. Baker said yesterday he will not seek the Republican nomination for governor, leaving Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey as the GOP's only declared candidate if Governor Mitt Romney does not seek reelection. [...]

His announcement stunned many of his supporters and others in the political world who were convinced that Baker, who made his reputation in the administrations of governors William F. Weld and Paul Cellucci, would challenge Healey for the party's nomination. Baker said he would not run if Romney ran for reelection, but the healthcare CEO was widely believed to be preparing to resign his $1-million-a-year job to lay the groundwork for a campaign.

Baker's decision marks a major shift in the political dynamics of the 2006 race and a setback for the Democrats, who had hoped for a divisive, resource-draining primary fight among Republicans. The news comes after a well-orchestrated strategy by Healey and her advisers to promote her as Romney's heir apparent.

''This is a big boost for the Republicans," said Senate minority leader Brian P. Lees, a Republican from East Longmeadow. ''This decision by Baker will really solidify Kerry Healey as the candidate for the Republican Party. The Democrats will be slugging it out all spring and summer next year and won't be able to come together until the fall after the primary."

Romney has said he will make a decision on his own reelection plans this fall, but Healey and other Republicans are making plans as if he has decided to forgo a run. Baker's departure from the race means Healey, who has access to her husband's fortune to finance her campaign, is now free to consolidate her candidacy and focus on beating the Democrats. It will also give Healey greater leeway in the choice of lieutenant governor.

If you want the Republican nomination for president you ought to have helped build the party, not just your own resume. Bad enough that Mr. Romney isn't defending his seat and hasn't built the MA GOP, he'd better at least make sure the party keeps the governor's office.

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 30, 2005 10:06 AM

Kerry Healey is a lightweight, it's unlikely she could win. The Republican party in Massachusetts is really in a bad way. We need more carpetbaggers like Mitt to help us out. John McCain, how about moving here for some executive experience?

Posted by: pj at August 30, 2005 12:19 PM

Massachusetts and New York share a situation of habitually weak GOP benches, where the party only gets elected when the voters decide the Democrats have fouled things up too much. But the party shift only applies to the high-profile positions like governor or senator; the changes rarely, if ever, extend to the down-ballot races, which leaves Republicans short on successors with much public service outside of local areas.

Once that fear that got the GOP into the top offices is forgotten, voters go back to their normal pattern of electing Democrats. The Sept. 11 situation changed the dynamic slightly, giving the Republicans an extra few years in power, but the traditional mindset again seems to be rearing its ugly head, and both states will probably be back in the blue column in the executive mansion come January 2007.

Posted by: John at August 30, 2005 2:30 PM

Romney made a real push to increase the number of Republicans in the state house and senate, so that he could at least hope to sustain a veto. He not only raised funds and campaigned, but he set up a state-wide infrastructure so that any candidate who wanted it could have an IT infrastructure and paid consultants.

The push failed miserably and the number of Republicans in the state-house decreased.

Posted by: David Cohen at August 30, 2005 4:57 PM