Massachusetts’ anti-Trump Republican governor ends term

BOSTON (AP) — Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, an anti-Trump Republican who easily won re-election four years ago, got his earliest political lessons from listening to his Democratic mother and Republican father discuss the issues of the day.

“My parents were married 60 years before my mom died and they never voted for the same person,” Baker, 66, told The Associated Press. “The dinner table was just a series of interesting conversations about various things.”

Those listening skills — he had two ears and a mouth for a reason, his mother would say — proved crucial, as Baker was part of a tradition of socially moderate, fiscally conservative New England Republicans, He took the helm of a liberal-leaning country dominated by Democrats in 2015.

Baker battles blizzards, a crumbling public transit system and a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic. He also angered former President Donald Trump by refusing to support or vote for the fellow Republican in 2016 and 2020. Trump has dealt with Baker in turn, calling him “RINO,” or a nominal Republican.

“Baker is bad for crime, has no respect for our police and does nothing for our Veterans,” Trump said in a 2021 email.

Baker remained reluctant to engage Trump directly, saying the GOP “has to make a decision about what they want to do with this message, and I want them to make the right decision.” Out of necessity, Baker forged a path of bipartisanship . Without the Democrats, there is little he can do.

“I’ve always thought of it as a team sport. If we think about it purely in terms of winning and losing, I’ve never felt like it worked,” Baker said. “The American public is less extreme than social media, the political parties would have you believe.”

The 6-foot-6 (2-meter) former Harvard basketball player is preparing to leave next week as he looks forward to his next job leading the NCAA. The country’s largest collegiate sports governing body manages approximately 500,000 athletes at more than 1,100 schools.

Baker took office in March.

“It’s a huge part of how a lot of young people find themselves, lay a foundation for their value systems and beliefs about themselves, and it’s how a lot of American kids end up going to college,” Baker said.

Among Baker’s fans is his successor, Democratic Attorney General Maura Healey, who last month became the first woman and first member of the LGBTQ community elected Massachusetts governor. She takes office next week.

Healy praised Baker, calling him “a valuable partner” who is focused on common ground in a divided era.

“Governor Baker should be proud of his record of service to Massachusetts and the country,” Healy said as Baker announced he would not seek a third term. “I’m happy to call him a friend.”

As governor, Baker has suffered greatly from the state’s antiquated public transportation system.

Under Baker’s leadership, billions of dollars have been poured into replacing tracks, fixing signals and updating electrical systems, while officials deal with out-of-control trains, smoke belching from subway cars and trains running during rush hour on weekends.

Earlier this year, the entire Orange Line, a branch of the subway, was closed for 30 days to allow workers to complete five years of repair work. The MBA’s troubles have even caught the attention of the Federal Transit Administration.

The good news came this month when a new extension of the Green Line subway from downtown Boston to nearby Medford opened.

“What people in elected office need to understand is that you’re going to get credit for the expansion because it’s visible. You’re not going to get credit for all the stuff you’ve done on the core system, which is why a lot of people don’t Reasons to do it,” Baker said.

Ironically, one of Baker’s harshest critics is the head of the Massachusetts Republican Party, a Trump loyalist.

Republican Party Chairman Jim Lyons backed the former president, who lost both Massachusetts elections to Baker by double digits.

“President Trump was 100% right when he declared ‘RINO’ Gov. Charlie Baker ‘done nothing for the GOP’ earlier this month,” Lyons said last year. than Governor Baker’s principles. “

The biggest challenge Baker has faced so far is the coronavirus pandemic.

For the first 100 days or so of the pandemic, Baker held daily live-streamed news conferences as leaders tried to grasp the rapidly evolving public health nightmare.

One of the biggest lessons learned from those first few months was the need for clear and consistent communication in times of crisis, he said.

“When people are really anxious about something, when there’s so much information out there, some of which is in direct conflict with each other, it’s really important that public officials get out and show up on a regular basis,” Baker said.

Baker has said he wants Healey to push for renewable energy, one of his priorities. Baker had pushed unsuccessfully to put $750 million into a clean energy innovation fund.

While he doesn’t have any immediate plans to return to politics, Baker hasn’t ruled it out.

He said the biggest unexpected lesson he learned as governor was that he and his administration would be popular with the public.

“When you spend a lot of time in front of the media like we do, people treat you like a neighbor. You can be a good neighbor or a bad neighbor, but they treat you like a neighbor and they tell you all kinds of funny things. thing,” he said. “It’s very important to me.

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