Charlie Baker Wins Reelection, Defeating Jay Gonzalez

Massachusetts decided to stick with its Republican incumbent instead of sending a Democrat to the executive office.

charlie baker wins reelection

Photo via State House News Service

It turns out that repeatedly polling as one of the most popular politicians in the country does a lot for your reelection prospects. Republican Governor Charlie Baker has handily defeated his Democratic challenger Jay Gonzalez.

Baker had steadily led in polls conducted leading up to Election Day, with Gonzalez, the former budget guru for Gov. Deval Patrick, struggling to make gains. Less than a week before the election, a WBUR poll indicated 68 percent of voters wanted to reelect Baker, and only 25 percent were interested in voting for Gonzalez. And it wasn’t far off from a September WBUR poll that had Baker with 68 percent, and Gonzalez with 24 percent.

One of the biggest issues facing Gonzalez? Name recognition. In that September poll, less than two months before election day, 45 percent of respondents said they didn’t know who he was. Even worse: 37 percent of Democrats in Massachusetts didn’t know who he was. Still, Gonzalez did what he could, hammering Baker on what he considered a lack of progress on the MBTA.

It’s not totally surprising that none of the state’s Democrats with broader name recognition wanted to take their chances against Baker. He’s managed to stay on good terms with many elected Dems, with some of them even going so far as to endorse him over Gonzalez. He’s also pro-choice and opposed efforts to repeal the state’s transgender rights bill in an op-ed, making it harder for Democrats to stake out opposition territory against him on social issues. And while he’s had a few potential scandals pop up, including just recently when his former driver was forced to resign from being the state’s top environmental cop, none of them seemed to put a dent in his favorability ratings.

Even the debates between the two candidates failed to generate much in the way of drama, with one of the most notable moments coming when Baker declined to say during the debate whether he planned to vote for Elizabeth Warren’s Trump-supporting opponent, Geoff Diehl. Baker, a committed never-Trump Republican, then affirmed after the debate that he did intend to vote for Diehl. For his part, of course, Diehl probably needed a few more Baker voters to help him win his own race.

Gonzalez, in a concession speech, congratulated Baker and thanked him for his service as governor, also offering words of praise to supporters like U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

“We gave it one hell of a run, didn’t we?” he said.

In his victory speech, Baker touted his bipartisan bonafides, pointing out that Mass. residents like what he and his team are doing, and saying, “Here’s the good news: that collaborative, purposeful and humble approach to governing is exactly what you’re going to get from us and our team for the next four years.”

And so Baker gets four more years to run the state with the best schools, the best sports teams, and the lowest rate of uninsured residents in the country. Now, if only we could have the best transit system as well.