Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, a Trump critic who has said he expects a “tough” re-election fight in 2022, said Wednesday he won’t seek a third term as governor.
“The challenge for the (Republican) Party is to get a younger generation of leaders and help them get more experience to take on the responsibilities of being a United States senator or governor,” Baker said during a meeting with the editorial board of The Boston Globe.
During the meeting, Baker pointed to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, whom he called “a great friend” and a “very successful governor,” as an example of how a veteran state leader can lead. Christie, a Republican, was one of Trump’s earliest supporters and widely expected to seek the Republican presidential nomination in 2016. But Christie abruptly dropped out of the presidential contest and decided not to seek re-election as governor, which he had planned to do in 2017.
Baker said he expected to face his biggest electoral challenge yet in his third term if he sought re-election because of state ballot initiatives and the Republican Party’s natural aversion to Trump.
During the interview, Baker declined to offer a prediction on who might challenge him in 2022.
Baker, a Republican, is the first Massachusetts governor to serve two full terms since the 1970s, when Gov. Frank Sargent, a Democrat, ran two consecutive four-year terms.
On Feb. 23, Baker said in a speech to a gathering of top donors that he expected to be re-elected to a third term, even as he alluded to the likelihood of a primary.
On March 22, Trump tweeted that his administration would block Baker from getting any federal grants for heroin and opioid addiction programs unless the Republican governor supported his policies.
In the same speech on Feb. 23, Baker mentioned his governor friend New Jersey’s Republican governor in the context of U.S. Senate races.
“I’m also a longtime friend of Chris Christie, and I’ve told him that we’re all facing tough re-election fights in 2022, and I expect one and he’ll be ready,” Baker said, adding, “And so, I’m not just volunteering that we all have tough campaigns, but maybe people should take a little bit of that on.”