BOSTON — Narrowly staving off a potential primary from a Tea Party challenger, Republican candidate for governor Charlie Baker won a resounding endorsement from his party over the weekend, promising to improve education, partner with cities and towns and expand business opportunities.
Baker, of Swampscott, who four years ago was felled by Gov. Deval Patrick’s re-election campaign, was back on the stage at his party’s convention, accepting the overwhelming endorsement from the more than 2,500 delegates who traveled to Boston University’s Agganis Arena for Saturday’s GOP gathering.
Only a razor-thin margin separated Mark Fisher, a Tea Party Republican from Shrewsbury, from qualifying for the ballot to challenge Baker for the Republican nomination in September, a possibility the Baker camp strove to avoid and which would have prevented party financial resources from flowing to either candidate until after the primary.
The ballot counting lasted hours after the convention adjourned as Fisher challenged some of the ballots, including at least four that he said were cast by a registered Democrat and unenrolled.
Fisher fell just short of the 15 percent of delegates he would have needed to qualify, according to party officials, capturing 14.7 percent of the 2,533 delegates present.
“Primary or no primary, we’re chasing 100 percent of the vote in November,” Baker said.
Baker and his running mate Karyn Polito, a former state representative who is also from Shrewsbury, emerged from the rather staid affair with the strong backing of the Republican Party as both offered themselves up as alternative to the one-party rule on Beacon Hill and eight years of Gov. Patrick.
Recent troubles with the Department of Children and Families, the health exchange website, medical marijuana licensing and other issues provided ample fodder for Republicans throughout the day.
For Baker, 2014 is his chance at redemption after losing in 2010 and feeling like he didn’t put his best foot forward during that campaign. Baker hosted a women’s breakfast early in the morning with Polito and his wife Lauren, interacting with a constituency that he failed to galvanize during his last run in 2010.