Baker discusses potential 2018 campaign themes

STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, MAY 24, 2016…More than two years out from the next gubernatorial election, Gov. Charlie Baker has some arguments for why voters might return him to office in 2018.

The governor, who has yet to announce whether he would seek a second four-year term, was quizzed on Boston Herald Radio Tuesday about what he would say to a potential challenger.

“If somebody believes they have something to say and believes they can do a better job or as good a job as whoever has the job, they should consider doing it,” Baker said before launching into the case he might make to the voting public.

Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito won office in 2014 by 40,000 votes out of nearly 2.2 million cast and Baker has since enjoyed status as the nation’s most popular governor, as Morning Consult recently found he had a 72 percent approval rating.

“We have been pretty much what we said we were going to be. We said we were going to be a bipartisan administration. I believe we’ve been that. We said we were going to work to rebuild the state’s relationship with the Commonwealth’s cities and towns. I believe we’ve done that,” Baker told hosts Hillary Chabot and Jaclyn Cashman.

A Swampscott Republican who regularly meets with leaders of the Democrat-dominated Legislature, Baker said he also provides a “constructive check and balance” and a “fiscal brake on spending.”

The state Democratic Party has knocked Baker as merely upholding the “status quo.” He has faced union criticism for successfully pushing to free the MBTA from privatization constraints, and frustration from activists for not articulating a position on a transgender accommodations bill.

Baker has also kept his powder dry as nearly every Republican in the House and Senate voted against advancement of a roughly $2 billion surtax on incomes over $1 million. The proposed constitutional amendment, which cleared a Constitutional Convention with the overwhelming support of Democrats last week, could appear on the 2018 ballot if it clears an additional vote by the 190th General Court.

After his favored presidential candidate, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, dropped out and endorsed Donald Trump, Baker has expressed complete dissatisfaction with the 2016 presidential contenders, but said he would actively work to defeat an expected ballot referendum legalizing marijuana and support a referendum increasing access to charter schools in the state.

On Tuesday, Baker jokingly sought November’s contest as a shield from the political tests that lie beyond it.

“We haven’t even gotten through the 2016 election yet,” Baker protested. He also observed, “If you speculate this far out, you probably don’t have to worry about anyone remembering what you predicted.”

Copyright 2016 State House News Service

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