BOSTON (CBS) – Charlie, we hardly knew ye.
OK, we actually got to know Gov. Baker fairly well these past seven years, well enough to know that he’s a family man whose family has been under a lot of stress (not to mention his own agita governing during a pandemic) and doesn’t like dealing with partisan nonsense, good reasons for taking a pass on a third term.
Somewhat more surprising is the decision of Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito to forego a run, despite a fat campaign account and a tradition of second-bananas stepping up in class. But the bottom line is a solid majority of Massachusetts Republicans have drunk the Trump-Aid, and to them, so-called RINOs (Republicans in Name Only, e.g. Republicans who don’t swear allegiance to Trumpism) like Baker and Polito are poison.
So with the state Republican Party having shed its last, best hope for mounting a serious run next year, our attention turns to the Democratic primary. The three announced candidates – former Sen. Ben Downing, Harvard Prof. Danielle Allen, and State Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz – have struggled in the shadow of Baker and Attorney General Maura Healey to raise money and lift their name recognition.
So the big question is – will Healey run? The stars would seem to be as aligned as they’ll ever be, three candidates to her left to divide that vote in the primary and a walkover awaiting in the general election. She has high name recognition and approval ratings, and money won’t be an issue.
But there’s also history to consider. Attorneys General have a dismal track record when they try to move up in Massachusetts politics – think Ed McCormack, Frank Bellotti, Scott Harshbarger, Jim Shannon, Tom Reilly and Martha Coakley. All popular AG’s, all losers in runs for higher office. And then there’s the fading but still potent glass ceiling in Massachusetts politics, which makes it tougher for female candidate to win statewide, and, so far, impossible for one to win the governorship.
And one more factor – former Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, now US Secretary of Labor, sitting on a flush bank account with healthy statewide name recognition and approval. His decision to continue spending plenty of time in Boston (he takes a hotel room for nights spent in DC) speaks to a touch of homesickness. If and when the “social infrastructure” spending bill passes, a case can be made that the bulk of the Labor Secretary’s work for this presidential term is done.
Would Walsh return to seek the corner office in the building where he served for so many years, forcing former nemesis Michelle Wu to come hat in hand for help on key issues? Could that prospect spook Healey out of running, or would she relish a clash of titans?
Stay tuned. And keep your seatbelt fastened at all times.