BOSTON — Republican Charlie Baker, a former state budget chief and health care executive, officially jumped into the wide-open 2014 governor’s race yesterday with a more upbeat campaign theme than 2010 when he ran and lost to incumbent Gov. Deval Patrick.
Baker yesterday morning posted a 90-second announcement video on his new campaign website — charliebaker2014.com — asking voters to “aim high” and showcasing a more positive campaign theme than his 2010 “Had Enough?” slogan as he tries to recast himself to voters who rejected his candidacy four years ago. He also pledged “bipartisan leadership,” a necessary quality for a Republican governor working with a Democrat-controlled Legislature but also a promise that raises questions about whether he’d pull Democrats into his administration.
Dressed in jeans and a blue-collared shirt in a backyard setting, Baker talked about non-controversial aspirations like growing the economy, helping small businesses and creating better schools and safer neighborhoods.
“We’re all concerned about our future and I’m determined to do what I can to make Massachusetts prosperous with a quality of life second to none,” Baker said. Baker was not expected to be available for questions until today.
The 56-year-old Swampscott Republican is the first to enter the 2014 gubernatorial contest on the GOP side. While there’s time for other candidates to get in, he could have a clear path to the nomination after former U.S. Sen. Scott Brown announced last month he would not run for governor. Baker also avoided a primary during the last cycle when Christy Mihos was denied access to the ballot at the state Republican Convention in 2010.
Having held top Cabinet positions in the Weld and Cellucci administrations before going on to become the CEO of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, Baker touted both his public and private sector experience, claiming he helped turn a $1 billion state deficit into a surplus while creating more than 250,000 jobs in Massachusetts, and taking Harvard Pilgrim from the brink of bankruptcy to the nation’s highest ranked health insurer.