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Charlie Baker confirms he won’t seek re-election to a third term as Massachusetts governor

NORWOOD MA – November 30: Governor Charlie Baker speaks to the media at the groundbreaking for the new Norwood Hospital on November 30, 2021 in Norwood, Massachusetts.  (Staff Photo By Matt Stone/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)
NORWOOD MA – November 30: Governor Charlie Baker speaks to the media at the groundbreaking for the new Norwood Hospital on November 30, 2021 in Norwood, Massachusetts. (Staff Photo By Matt Stone/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

Gov. Charlie Baker has made the “extremely difficult decision” not to seek re-election for a third term as Massachusetts governor, clearing the field for a broad spectrum of candidates vying to take the corner office.

“After several months of discussion with our families, we have decided not to seek re-election in 2022,” Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito said in a message to supporters on Wednesday morning.

Sources close to the administration said Polito will not make a bid for the governor’s office. She was seen as a potential Republican favorite to pick up where Baker left off.

“We love the work, and we especially respect and admire the people of this wonderful Commonwealth. Serving as Governor and Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts has been the most challenging and fulfilling jobs we’ve ever had. We will forever be grateful to the people of this state for giving us this great honor,” the note to supporters continued.

In his remaining time as governor, Baker said he’ll focus on the pandemic recovery, “not on the grudge matches political campagins can devolve to.”

“That work cannot and should not be about politics and the next election. If we were to run, it would be a distraction that would potentially get in the way of many of the things we should be working on for everyone in Massachusetts,” Baker said in his statement.

The ever-popular Republican governor would have entered the 2022 campaign as the front-runner. With less than a year to go until Election Day, Baker’s decision to sit out cracks the governor’s race wide open — making way for the three Democrats and single Republican who have already jumped in the race.

Baker, who had no public schedule on Wednesday, spent the morning calling allies to discuss his pending announcement, sources close to the governor said. A spokesman for the Baker-Polito campaign did not respond to questions.

The pair had plans to address reporters at the State House later on Wednesday afternoon.

In the note to supporters Baker highlighted the “unanticipated crises” that have steered his tenure as governor — from the continuous blizzards that crippled the T during their first 60 days in office to the Merrimack Valley natural gas explosions to the coronavirus pandemic.

But the Baker-Polito administration has still been able to “move our state forward,” they said. Baker plugged progress in battling the opioid epidemic, moving toward cleaner energy like offshore wind power, investing in housing and criminal justice reform.

Despite the administration’s successes, the state is still grappling with longstanding wealth and racial gaps — something Democratic contenders state Sen. Sonia Chang Diaz, Harvard Professor Danielle Allen and former state Sen. Ben Downing have seized on.

“The people of Massachusetts are ready for a new chapter with new leadership. For far too long, people in power have asked working families to wait for change — despite a growing affordable housing crisis, inaccessible and expensive child and health care, the existential threat of climate change, and long-standing racial injustice. In 2022, our next Governor must be someone willing to take on challenges even when they’re hard — who recognizes the urgency of this moment, who tackles these issues with the courage to solve them, and who has a record of winning bold, systemic change on Beacon Hill. I’m proud to be building a grassroots movement across age, class, and faith to put power back in the hands of the people and to elect a governor who’s not afraid to fight for our values,” Chang-Diaz said.

Rumblings of Baker’s decision to come started emerging over the summer as the popular Republican governor’s fundraising lagged in comparison to his 2017 hauls during the last reelection cycle.

Both Baker and Polito said they’ll be spending more time with their families in their post-political life.


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