Republican Charles Baker releases video announcing run for Mass. governor
Charles D. Baker, shedding the outraged tone he struck in his first run for governor in 2010, officially launched his second campaign for the office this morning with a video in which he describes himself as a loving family man with deep roots in Massachusetts.
“I care about being a good husband to my wife, Lauren, and a loving and responsible father to our three children,” Baker, dressed casually in jeans and a blue shirt with no tie, says in the video, which is filled with warm music. “I care about our community where we’ve raised our family and being a good son and brother. And, as corny as that may sound, that’s exactly why I want to be your governor.”
Baker, who was a top official in the administrations of governors William F. Weld and Paul Cellucci, never mentions that he is a Republican in the video. Instead, he says he wants to provide “bipartisan leadership focused on growing our economy,” and, if elected in 2014, will promote small businesses, and work to improve schools and public safety.
The tone of the video marks a sharp contrast from his campaign in 2010, when he ran on the slogan, “Had Enough?” and tried to tap into voter anger about scandals on Beacon Hill and a slumping economy. His new video uses the catchphrase “Let’s aim high. Let’s be great, Massachusetts.”
Baker represents the Republican Party’s best shot at recapturing the governor’s office after eight years of Democratic dominance on Beacon Hill. He is expected to have a clear path to the nomination after former senator Scott Brown said last month that he would not run.
Though Baker lost by 6 points to Governor Deval Patrick in 2010, he has long been considered a potent candidate for the GOP, because his mix of liberal social views and conservative fiscal policies follows in the successful mold of Weld and Cellucci.
“Significant opportunities and challenges lie ahead for Massachusetts, and Charlie’s dedication to his community, and bipartisan leadership make him the right choice at this time to make Massachusetts great,” Weld said in a statement released by the Baker campaign. “Charlie was one of the smartest and most hardworking members of my team, when we helped create hundreds of thousands of jobs, lowered taxes, turned a budget deficit into a surplus.”
Kirsten Hughes, the state GOP chairwoman, said in a statement the 2014 election “presents the opportunity to change the culture of corruption and abuse in state government and restore balance on Beacon Hill.”
Democrats wasted no time reviving some of the same tough attacks they used to defeat Baker in 2010. The state party this morning released a website and video that mixes TV news clips and dramatic music to underscore that Baker, as state budget chief in the 1990s, was an architect of the Big Dig financing plan that relied on heavy borrowing and money that would have been available for future transportation projects.
As the GOP switches into campaign mode, several staff members have also changed roles.
Will Ritter, who was an aide to former governor Mitt Romney and to Senate candidate Gabriel E. Gomez, will be taking over as spokesman for the state GOP, replacing Tim Buckley, who will join Baker’s press operation. Buckley was also active in the Baker’s 2010 campaign.
Baker, who grew up in Needham and who lives in Swampscott, has been a fixture in and around state government for three decades, with a reputation for delving into policy details and spinning out ideas.
Weld hired Baker into his new administration in 1991, and Baker quickly moved up the ranks, serving as health and human services secretary and then administration and finance secretary, in charge of the state budget.
Within the administration, he had a reputation as a wunderkind, with a penchant for holding long staff meetings on subjects ranging from tax reform to special education.
Baker left the State House in 1998 to lead Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates. He then spent 10 years as chief executive of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, and was credited with helping to rescue the company from the edge of financial ruin.
He has spent the last three years working at General Catalyst Partners, a venture capital firm in Cambridge.
Baker comes from a politically active family. His mother was a liberal Democrat and his father served as undersecretary of health and human services in the Reagan administration and as undersecretary of transportation during the Nixon years.
In the video, however, he talks about another family member, with blue-collar roots: his grandfather, who grew up in Harlem, worked in a stockroom and rose to become chief of personnel in his company.
The Globe’s full story today on Baker’s second bid for governor can be read here.Michael Levenson can be reached at Michael.Levenson@globe.com.