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Baker Elected Massachusetts Governor In Tight Race

Jim Levulis

Republican Charlie Baker will be the next governor of Massachusetts. He beat Democratic Attorney General Martha Coakley. It was a close race down to the end. Martha Coakley called Charlie Baker a little after 8 o'clock Wednesday morning to congratulate the Republican on his victory. Coakley, a Democrat, addressed her supporters around 11 o'clock at times getting emotional.

“I look forward to helping you in any way I can and I hope all voters, everybody in this room and people across Massachusetts will work with him to make sure we keep moving Massachusetts forward,” said Coakley.

With 99 percent of the precincts reporting, 48.4 percent of voters cast ballots for Baker, edging out Coakley’s 46.6 percent. Baker, the former CEO of Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare and cabinet member for Republican Governors Bill Weld and Paul Cellucci, gave what was short of a victory speech in the early morning hours Wednesday. Speaking to supporters in Boston, Baker said he spoke with Coakley, who had left her campaign headquarters without conceding Tuesday night.

“I’m perfectly fine with giving her until the morning to see the results come in,” Baker said early Wednesday to jeers from the crowd.

“That’s the way it works, folks, and that’s the way it should work,” he continued, this time followed by cheers.

After most media outlets projected a Baker victory, and upon hearing the Republican’s early morning speech, Berkshire GOP Chair Jim Bronson had this to say.

“Winning by one vote is just as good as winning by a million,” Bronson said early Wednesday after most media outlets had declared Baker the winner.

A handful of Berkshire Democrats stuck around at the party’s election night rallying spot in Pittsfield as results showed Coakley and Baker teeter-tottering. They left before the outcome was clear. State Representative Tricia Farley-Bouvier, who had won reelection running unopposed, was among them.

“We’ve always thought it was going to be a razor-close victory,” Farley-Bouvier said. “That’s why we worked so hard on our ground game. The other side clearly had more money and they pumped all their money into the media and television ads. We put our efforts into grassroots, volunteer, door-to-door, person-to-person efforts.”

Baker and Coakley were both coming off losses in 2010 and in a debate said it would be their last bid for office if they lost. Baker was bested by Democratic Governor Deval Patrick by six points in 2010. Bronson says this time Baker was more personable and more himself.

“Now the new direction the state will see, that’s the real win,” Bronson said. “How it pays off and how it makes the state better. How we can hopefully reform some regulations and make the state a better place for business. Instead of population draining out, maybe population increases or at least stays the same. Taxes don’t go up. That’s the things I’m expecting from Charlie Baker.”

Coakley kicked off her campaign in September on a statewide tour in which she showed regret for her 2010 special election loss to Republican Scott Brown to fill the Senate seat held by Democrat Ted Kennedy for nearly 50 years.

Many observers noted oddity of this election night, with Brown — now running in next door New Hampshire — losing to Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen and Coakley losing statewide again, neither candidate able to shed the specter of their 2010 race.

“I made some mistakes in that race,” Coakley said during a September campaign stop in Pittsfield. “My biggest regret is that people thought I didn’t work hard. I know I have to earn the trust and respect of voters across the state and I intend to do that.”

Giving his message of simplifying regulations and stopping tax increases, Baker made a promise to Berkshire Republicans in January.

“I can promise you this won’t be the last time you’ll see me,” Baker said to about 20 supporters.

Baker’s running mate, Karyn Polito will take the vacant lieutenant governor’s seat. United Independent Party gubernatorial candidate Evan Falchuk got the necessary three percent to make the party official. Independents Scott Lively and Jeff McCormick each came in under one percent.

Jim is WAMC’s Associate News Director and hosts WAMC's flagship news programs: Midday Magazine, Northeast Report and Northeast Report Late Edition. Email: jlevulis@wamc.org
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