After keeping everyone guessing, Americas last liberal Republican governor has decided not to run for re-election in 2022. There are other non-Trumper Republican governors, in Maryland, Vermont, and Arizona, but Baker epitomizes what used to be called a Rockefeller Republican. And as a social progressive and fiscal conservative, Baker isnt even that liberal.
Now what? For a state that reliably sends progressives to the House and Senate, Massachusetts has had trouble electing Democratic governors. Except for Deval Patrick, who served two terms between 2007 and 2015, the last five governors have been Republicans. One reason is that the state legislature is filled with corporate- and machine-Democrat hacks; the closer to home you look, the less appealing is the Democratic Party.
One good outcome is that Maura Healey, the Commonwealths talented and progressive attorney general, is now likely to run for governor and win. And Andrea Campbell, an African American former city councilor who was in the Boston mayors race (and would have made a superb mayor), could well be the next AG.
Baker is a youthful 65. What will he do now? Some observers think he will challenge Elizabeth Warren, who is up in 2024. The theory is that Warren, as a national progressive superstar, hasnt paid quite enough attention to home baseshe didnt even carry Massachusetts in the 2020 presidential primaryand some local industries, like biotech, are unhappy with her.
I think Warren would clean Bakers clock. Precisely because she is such a critical national leader, progressives would mobilize for her in droves.
It reminds me of the 1994 Senate race, when Mitt Romney took on a supposedly vulnerable Ted Kennedy, Warrens predecessor in that seat and as national liberal icon. Kennedy blew Romney away, winning by 18 points.
Romney did eventually make it to the Senate, from Utah. Baker doesnt have that option.