Charlie Baker win looking less solid

The Boston Herald

More cash won’t guarantee re-election

After a night of insurgent upsets, Gov. Charlie Baker is suddenly not looking so much like a shoo-in.

Baker won his primary race with just 174,000 votes, just half as much as the winning Democratic gubernatorial nominee, Jay Gonzalez.

Even the losing Democrat, Bob Massie, got more votes than the Republican governor.

And after the stunning win of Democrat Ayanna Pressley over 20-year incumbent U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano, a lot of incumbents — even powerful ones like Baker — should be nervous.

Pressley was able to easily dispatch Capuano even though the Somerville congressman was popular and had no apparent weaknesses, besides being in office for too long.

Baker also remains extremely popular, has more than $10 million to spend, a well-funded super PAC behind him, presides over a strong economy and a record of achievements, and will be tough to beat. But with the stronger than expected turnout and string of progressive upsets on primary night, Democrats who were previously lamenting over their chances in November now have new hope.

“Incumbency and money and special interest and pundits don’t decide elections,” Gonzalez said at a unity breakfast, in a theme likely to be repeated over and over in the next few months.

But it’s not just Democrats Baker has to worry about. The governor also has problems in his own party.

Nearly 100,000 Republicans voted against Baker on Tuesday, a total of 36 percent siding with controversial pastor Scott Lively. Many of those Republicans were registering a protest vote, upset with how Baker has turned to the left to govern.

Now Baker has to hope that somehow those defectors come back to him in November. Without a solid base of Republicans voting for Baker, he risks getting swamped by Democratic liberals surging to the polls to side with Gonzalez.

A splintered Republican Party is bad news for Baker, even if he gets some Democrats and independents to join his side in November.

But it’s unlikely Baker can repair those fractures before the election. His whole general election strategy is aimed at attracting Democrats and independents — not conservatives. The Baker campaign aired its first general election ad yesterday, and it emphasizes the governor’s “bipartisanship.”

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2018-09-17T23:29:19+00:00