Who Is Karyn Polito?

BOSTON (CBS) — Bay Staters have gotten to know Charlie Baker over the course of his two campaigns for governor, but voters may not be as familiar with Karyn Polito, the woman who is set to be the state’s next lieutenant governor.

Massachusetts has not had someone in the No. 2 executive branch spot since Tim Murray resigned in June 2013. The position has few powers, but former governors Jane Swift and Paul Cellucci, and Secretary of State John Kerry are just some of the big political names that started out as lieutenant governors.

So who is Karyn Polito?

The Shrewsbury resident served as a Republican state representative for 10 years before a run for state treasurer in 2010, which she lost but earned the most votes of any Republican running for statewide office that year, including Baker. As a lawmaker, Polito made headlines in 2010 for stalling a $400 million spending bill supported by Democrats.

There is also controversy in Polito’s past.

During her campaign for treasurer, The Boston Globe reported that Polito used her influence as a state representative to obtain sought-after low-number commemorative Red Sox licenses plates for friends, family and supporters. She sponsored the 2002 bill authorizing the Red Sox to issue the special plates to raise money for charity.

“They’re trying to muddy the waters by saying that somehow this is not a good deal for the Jimmy Fund. I don’t get it,” Polito told WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Dan Rea. “The reason this is on the Globe front page is because my opponent doesn’t want to talk about the issues of the day.”

Democrats have also tried to label Polito as a conservative who is far to the right of Baker.

As a legislator, Polito voted in favor of a state constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman, but said during the 2014 campaign that her views have evolved and she now supports same-sex marriage.

Polito also participated in a 2011 Tea Party rally, but has since tried to distance herself from the group.

“I have traveled all over this state, and the only person who has been calling me that is you,” Polito responded when her opponent characterized her as a Tea Party member in a recent debate, according to The Springfield Republican.

When Baker endorsed her as his running made last year, he said Polito is someone who “knows how to get stuff done.”

“Whether it’s being a mom, running a small business, whether it’s serving your local community or serving on Beacon Hill, Karyn is one of those people who knows how to build a coalition,” Baker said.

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