By Jon Keller

BOSTON (CBS) – “I really like the job,” says Gov. Charlie Baker, who – to the surprise of no one – just announced he’ll be seeking a second four-year term next year.

And in a recent WBZ interview, the governor spelled out how he plans to keep his seat.

“I think you just look at the way the budget process has worked in the last few years and you can see why it’s important to have a fiscally-disciplined Republican in the corner office,” he said. “We have really had to put the brakes on over and over on the spending side and to push people a little bit into some of the conversations around reform.”

But his most high-profile reform initiative – fixing the MBTA – is very much a work in progress.

Baker’s been lucky we haven’t had another snowpocalypse like the winter of 2015, and he needs that luck to hold.

Plus, there’s the Trump factor. Baker didn’t vote for him, and has broken with the White House on major issues, alienating an unknown number of local Trump backers, who like to call him a RINO – Republican in name only.

Republicans running statewide in this bluest of states face a razor-thin margin for error, and Baker acknowledges he barely eked it out back in 2014. And with both Sen. Elizabeth Warren and a tax hike for millionaires drawing left-leaning voters to the polls next fall, will enough of them help Baker avoid another photo finish, no matter how robust his approval ratings are now?

Says Baker when asked to make his “elevator pitch” to voters: “If you think things are going pretty well in Massachusetts, then you should probably choose to continue to move on the same path.” Or, as the Tower of Power might put it, don’t change horses in the middle of a stream.

The last time we saw a Republican governor with approval ratings like Baker’s was 1994, when Bill Weld breezed to re-election. But the partisan climate has grown a lot harsher since then, good reason to expect Baker to have his hands full in 2018.


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