With Chris Christie Out, Charlie Baker Won’t Endorse Again in 2016 Race
As the 2016 campaign for president dominated the news throughout 2015, Gov. Charlie Baker mostly stayed out of the Republican primary fight. With the exception of an occasional comment on frontrunner Donald Trump’s outburst of the day, Baker largely avoided diving into national politics by saying some variation of, “I am focused on Massachusetts.”
Boston political observers were of course startled when Baker tossed his support behind the struggling campaign of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie just five days before the crucial New Hampshire primary. The two have been friends since since Baker’s first run for governor in 2010, so the pick of Christie was not a surprise, but the announcement was. At the time, Baker said he endorsed because he felt the stakes were too high for him to just sit on the sidelines as his party marched down the path to nominating Trump or Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.
After Christie scored a distant fifth place finish in the New Hampshire primary, he traveled back to New Jersey to think it all over before announcing Wednesday that he was ending his campaign. Christie’s departure from the race puts Baker back in the spot he was before he endorsed Baker. He confirmed as much on Wednesday night during an interview with the State House News Service.
“I’m going to focus on my job. I don’t think there’s going to be a second endorsement,” said Baker.
Baker told SHNS that he was disappointed by the result of the primary because he valued what Christie brought to the primary process, but also weighed in on the dangers of Trump’s candidacy. “I have concerns about Donald Trump. I think his temperament and seriousness about all this are troubling and they concern me, but the voters get to make the call,” said Baker. Baker has been highly critical of Trump, but has repeatedly declined to state whether or not he will vote for him if he becomes his party’s nominee.
He did recently express some shock about Trump’s comments about Sen. Ted Cruz at an Election Eve rally in Manchester.
Baker is the de facto leader of the state Republican Party, so he has significant influence over the party’s choice of convention delegates, but that was not always the case. In 2012, a then-unknown teenager from Wakefield, Evan Kenney, defeated several candidates, including Baker, for an alternate delegate spot at the 2012 Republican National Convention. Today, Kenney is a school committee member in Wakefield and good friends with Baker.