Massachusetts’ anti-Trump GOP governor ends term


Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, an anti-Trump Republican who was easily re-elected four years ago, learned his first political lessons by listening to his Democrat and Democratic mother. His Republican father discussed current affairs.

“My parents were married 60 years before my mother died and they never voted for the same person,” Baker, 66, told the Associated Press. “The dinner table is just a bunch of funny conversations about all sorts of things.”

Those listening skills — there was a reason he was given two ears and one mouth, his mother would say — proved important when Baker, part of the New England Republican tradition socially moderate, financially conservative, taking the helm of a libertarian. state in favor of the dominant Democratic side in 2015.

Baker has battled blizzards, faltering public transit systems, and a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic. He also infuriated former President Donald Trump by refusing to endorse or vote for his Republican counterpart in 2016 and 2020. Trump, in turn, embroiled Baker, calling him “RINO.” or Only in the name of the Republican Party.

“Baker is terrible at crime, disrespecting our police, doing nothing for our Veterans,” Trump said in a 2021 email.

Baker remained reluctant to engage with Trump directly, saying that the GOP “has to make a decision going forward on how they want to handle that message, and I hope they make the right decision.” Out of necessity, Baker forged a bipartisan path. He can do little without the Democrats.

“I’ve always thought of this as a team sport. I never felt it worked if we just thought about it purely through a win-lose lens,” Baker said. “The American public is nowhere near as extreme as social media and parties will make you believe.”

As he prepares to leave office next week, the 6-foot-6-inch (2-meter) former Harvard basketball player is eyeing his next job as NCAA leader. The country’s largest college sports governing body oversees some 500,000 athletes at more than 1,100 schools.

The baker started work in March.

“It’s a big part of how a lot of young people find themselves, build their value systems and beliefs about themselves, and it’s how a lot of kids in America go to college,” says Baker. “.

Among Baker’s fans is his successor, Democratic Attorney General Maura Healey, who last month became the first woman and first member of the LGBTQ community to be elected governor of Massachusetts. She takes office next week.

Healey praised Baker, calling him “a valued partner” and “a friend” who focused on common ground in an age of division.

“I am grateful to Governor Baker for his leadership over the past eight years. He has led with integrity, empathy, a strong work ethic, and a willingness to work with people.” Healey said.

Democratic Senate Chairwoman Karen Spilka said she could work with Baker on bills ranging from K-12 education and mental health care to the climate crisis and criminal justice.

“Despite being on different sides, I’m proud of the law we were able to pass and he signed,” Spilka said.

The state’s outdated public transportation system made Baker governor.

Under Baker, billions of dollars have been poured into replacing tracks, fixing signals, and updating electrical systems even as officials tackle runaway trains, smoking subway cars, and busier trips. Rush hour trains run on a weekend schedule.

Earlier this year, an entire branch of the subway, the Orange Line, was closed for 30 days to allow workers to complete repairs in five years. The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s troubles even attracted the attention of the Federal Transportation Agency.

A bit of good news came this month with the opening of a new extension of the Green Line subway from downtown Boston to nearby Medford.

“What the people in the elected office need to understand is that you’re going to get credit for the expansion because it’s visible. You’re not going to get credit for all that you do on the core system. , which is why a lot of people won’t do it,” Baker said.

Ironically, one of Baker’s harshest critics is the head of the Massachusetts Republican Party, a Trump loyalist.

GOP party chairman Jim Lyons sided with the former president, who lost by double digits in both Massachusetts elections, to Baker.

“President Trump was 100% right when he stated earlier this month that ‘RINO Governor Charlie Baker’ did nothing for the Republican Party,” Lyons said last year. “There is no Republican governor in America less supportive of Republican principles than Governor Baker.”

By far, the biggest challenge Baker has faced has been the coronavirus pandemic.

For about the first 100 days of the pandemic, Baker held daily live-streamed press conferences as leaders tried to tackle the rapidly growing public health nightmare.

One of the biggest lessons from those early months, he said, was the need for clear and constant communication in times of crisis.

“When people are really worried about something, and when there’s so much information, some of it directly conflicting with each other, it’s really important for public officials to go out and come out on a regular basis. present,” said Baker.

Baker said he hopes Healey promotes the development of renewable energy, one of his priorities. Baker was unsuccessful in putting $750 million into a clean energy innovation fund.

While he doesn’t have any immediate plans to return to politics, Baker wouldn’t rule it out.

He said the biggest unexpected lesson he’s learned as governor is how well he and his administration will be received by the public.

“When you spend as much time in front of the media as we do, people treat you as if you were their neighbor. You may be a good neighbor or a bad neighbor, but they treat you like a neighbor. neighbors and they tell you all sorts of interesting things,” he said. “That’s extremely important to me.”

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