SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

September 6, 2013

'New' Charlie Baker meets the press in Swampscott

By Alan Burke
Staff writer

---- — SWAMPSCOTT — It won’t be the same Charlie Baker you saw last time.

That’s what the newly announced Republican candidate for governor told The Salem News yesterday, following a press conference at his home in Swampscott.

After his loss to Gov. Deval Patrick in 2010, Baker said he listened to the postmortems from friends and others, “and I was surprised at how many people I worked with and knew ... who said they didn’t really see the same hard-charging go-getter that they knew.”

With wife Lauren beside him, Baker suggested that by the end of this campaign, there won’t be any regrets that the real Charlie Baker wasn’t on display and that his ideas weren’t heard.

“You get into this because you think you have something to say,” he said.

He nodded when someone suggested he could be more emphatic in his presentation, but Lauren smiled and cautioned, “Not too emphatic.” She reflected on the often delicate juggling act that political candidates face.

Baker spoke with the press yesterday both inside and outside of his Swampscott home, a spacious Victorian in sight of the Swampscott waterfront. Baker was an aide to former Gov. Bill Weld, and he served a term as a Swampscott selectman. He left the presidency of Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare in 2010 to run against incumbent Deval Patrick, but the path to Beacon Hill proved a tangled one, due in part to the distraction of third-party candidate and former Democratic state treasurer Tim Cahill.

After the election, Baker found a job with General Catalyst Partners in Cambridge, a company that seeks to profit by helping new businesses develop and grow. Despite his loss, Baker’s showing was strong enough that a number of Republicans have urged him to try again, particularly as former U.S. Sen. Scott Brown has declared himself not interested in the job.

Baker promised a campaign revolving around issues including jobs and schools.

“I think Massachusetts can be great,” he said, pledging to do everything that can be done to ensure that people who want work can find it. He would also seek to address the “achievement gap” in schools, while working to keep neighborhoods safe and boost the economies of cities and towns.

At the press conference, he said he would be the taxpayers’ “best friend” but balked at signing a “no new taxes” pledge, something he did in 2010. That might tie the hands of an effort to revamp the state’s tax laws, he said.

On the other hand, Baker called for the repeal of a new sales tax on computer and software services and a law linking future gas tax hikes to increases in inflation.

The governor’s race will be decided in November 2014.

Patrick is not running for re-election. So far, four Democrats are in the race: state treasurer Steve Grossman, former Obama administration health care official Don Berwick, former homeland security official Juliette Kayyem and former Wellesley selectman Joseph Avellone. Baker is the first Republican to announce his candidacy.

Staff writer Alan Burke can be reached at aburke@salemnews.com.