"How many more years can you give the guy?" Bakas said, as a band played blues songs on the stage in front of him. "It's already been four years. We need a change. ... I've never seen the state as bad as it is now."
But the change Bakas and the hundreds of others here had hoped for never arrived. As crews broke down the stage after Baker's speech, four nets of red, white and blue balloons remained suspended from the ceiling — a shower that would never come.
Back in Swampscott, Town Administrator Andrew Maylor, a strong Baker supporter who worked with the Republican when he was selectman, said he was disappointed by the outcome.
"I have a tremendous amount of respect for him personally and professionally," Maylor said. "I believe that Charlie represented our best hope in helping Beacon Hill understand the issues facing the towns of the commonwealth and the residents that live in those towns that have seen their services decline and taxes increase."
Baker conceded to a disappointed but still lively crowd.
"The most important thing I have to say to all of you and to everyone who stood with us and fought with us and supported us over these long months is thank you," Baker said.
Then the crowd reciprocated.
"Thank you, Char-lie!" supporters chanted.
During a campaign season that featured an onslaught of negative ads on all sides, Baker ended his campaign on a positive note.
"This is still and always has been and always will be a great state to grow up in," Baker said, "to raise a family in and to make a life in."
Staff writer Chris Cassidy can be reached at email@example.com.