Charlie Baker out for 2024, not necessarily out of politics forever

Gov. Charlie Baker left the door open to a future in politics during an interview aired over the weekend, but he made it clear he won’t be asking for votes anytime soon.

“I think anybody in public life never slams anything completely,” Baker said when asked if he was keeping the door open for the 2024 presidential contest.

The governor was appearing with hosts Janet Wu and Ed Harding on WCVB’s Sunday politics show, On the Record, when he was pressed on his plans after he leaves the corner office in the hands of Governor-elect Maura Healey come January.

The deeply liberal Bay State’s outgoing Republican governor has been called the country’s most popular state executive in more than one poll, a rapport not shared by anyone else in the commonwealth of his party or, arguably, of any party.

That fact, along with his history of support among independent and more moderate voters, has led to Baker’s name being mentioned as a possible presidential candidate capable of taking on both former President Donald Trump and President Joe Biden.

Despite this, Baker was clear that, though he wasn’t shutting the door on politics forever, his name would not likely be on a presidential ticket this cycle.

“I certainly plan to be involved in 2024, but I think the likelihood that I would be on the ballot in 2024 is pretty small,” Baker said.

“I’m not going to be a candidate in 2024,” he said later, adding, “If I don’t say that, my wife will be very unhappy.”

Wu asked if that meant he was pulling himself from political consideration forever.

“No, I’m not going to rule ever running for anything,” Baker said.

According to the governor, recent interviews with and discussion of him by the national press hasn’t been a precursor to his seeking the presidency. But he does mean what he has been telling reporters about the overall state of domestic politics and the sentiments of voters.

“The American public is not interested in extremes,” he said. “Both parties are far too partisan for the vast majority of Americans and blaming Americans for being divided when it’s the parties that spend most of their time dividing people, is a bad way to govern and…we need to move on from this. That message is one I’ve been delivering for years.”

According to a Morning Consult poll released in October, Massachusetts’ 72nd governor has the approval of about 74% of voters polled while only about 20% disapprove of him. Vermont’s Gov. Phil Scott and Maryland’s Gov. Larry Hogan, also both Republicans leading liberal states, came in at 73% and 70% approval respectively.

Baker has not been popular among Republicans in Massachusetts. Many GOP members, including the state party’s Chairman Jim Lyons, hold fast to their allegiance to Trump and are more in line with the national party.

The governor, who is often critical of the 45th president, was unhesitating when asked if Lyons should be replaced as the head of the state’s Republican party following their near complete defeat in November’s general election.

“Yes,” he said simply.

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