BOSTON (STATE HOUSE) – Much has been made of the close working relationship between Republican Gov. Charlie Baker and Boston Mayor Martin Walsh, which some say has risen to the category of a bromance. But Baker appears to have charmed another high-ranking Massachusetts Democrat as well.
House Speaker Robert DeLeo, who in October 2011 declared Gov. Deval Patrick, a Democrat, “the greatest governor we’ve ever had,” has quickly established a strong bond with Patrick’s successor.
Baker recently endorsed a slate of Republican State Committee candidates and included his image on mailers from candidates pledging to “end the Democratic culture of corruption” on Beacon Hill.
But the governor’s handiwork, designed in large part to foster competition for legislative seats held by Democrats, does not appear to have influenced DeLeo’s impressions of the state’s CEO.
“I’d have say that Charlie Baker has been nothing but a gentleman to work with,” DeLeo said during an appearance Monday night on “Nightside” with Dan Rea on WBZ, discussing their work over the past year-plus on MBTA, state budget and opioid abuse legislation. “He’s been cooperative. He’s been extremely forward in terms of information and honorable and I’d have to say I’ve really enjoyed working with him. He’s an extremely bright guy. We’ve taken on some very difficult issues.”
While shared by other Democrats on Beacon Hill, DeLeo’s emphasis on bipartisan harmony conflicts with the message out of the Massachusetts Democratic Party, which has been trying to nick Baker for not disclosing more information about donors who reportedly helped raise $300,000 to pay for the endorsement mailers.
Sen. Thomas McGee, who is chairman of the Democratic Party, told reporters last month that Baker’s characterization was “unfair” given that he often touts his positive working relationships with Democrats.
“So I’d like to know, what is his real position?” McGee said. “He’s staked out one position of working with all of us as Democrats and now he’s putting out mailers funded by $300,000 we’re not sure where it came from saying there’s a Democratic problem in the state.”
On the radio Monday night, DeLeo said the spirit of bipartisanship helped draw General Electric to relocate its headquarters to Boston and predicted the move is “going to create a whole lot of jobs.”
DeLeo recalled receiving a “wonderful call” from Baker informing him of GE’s decision to come to Boston prior to the public announcement.
“He was very, very, very kind to thank me for my years of service even before he got there to sort of set up the economic atmosphere that would make a company such as GE come to Massachusetts,” DeLeo said, adding that Massachusetts was “fairly well outbid” by other states and GE would not be coming here “if it was strictly a money deal.”
GE was impressed by schools in Massachusetts and access to educated workers and attracted by relocating to a place where there’s “a government that can work together,” DeLeo said.
Baker, GE Chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt and a cadre of GE officials plan on Monday, April 4 to join Mayor Walsh for a 4:30 p.m. press conference in the State Room on State Street to unveil additional details about GE’s plans to move its headquarters to Boston.
Asked if the relationship between the Democrat-controlled Legislature and Gov. Baker was better than the one that existed with Gov. Patrick, DeLeo said, “I worked very, very well with the previous governor. I’d have to say that I enjoyed working with Governor Patrick for a number of years . . . but I’d also say that that same type of cordial relationship very much exists with the Republican governor.”
Copyright 2016 State House News Service