Republican gubernatorial candidate Charles D. Baker ’79, the likely contender against incumbent Gov. Deval L. Patrick ’78 in the upcoming race, spoke to students Tuesday night at an event hosted by the Harvard Republican Club, highlighting the nascent campaign’s young voter outreach.
Wearing a dark blue tie and golden American flag pin, Baker emphasized the inefficiency of the essentially one-party state of Massachusetts.
Baker’s supporters believe that, as the former CEO of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, his experience in a corporate position will help him to better manage the state’s budget.
Colin J. Motley ’10, the president of the Harvard Republican Club, said that while Baker may have trouble garnering initial support, he is a qualified candidate.
“He is really the type of guy to focus on the nuts and bolts, the financial issues that are important to families and students, and I think he has the right ideas on those issues,” Motley said.
“I have an unprecedented amount of confidence in his dealing with those kinds of issues.”
Baker said he hopes to focus on fixing current financial problems, rather than investing time in designing new changes.
He also noted the stagnant job market in Massachusetts, as well as the need for more public disclosure of health care costs in order to foster an informed and efficient discussion on health policy.
“He is the real deal, a guy who can really turn the state around,” said Kyle Armbrester ’07, Baker’s chief information officer.
But Baker admitted there is still work to do to build the campaign into a larger organization.
“The biggest challenge is generating enough visibility and name recognition,” he said.
Baker emphasized the use of social media in his campaign, primarily targeting young supporters through popular Web sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
Armbrester, who also heads the IT and online campaign for Baker, highlighted his candidate’s accessibility, a key strategy in the campaign. According to Armbrester, Baker personally responds to Facebook posts and friend requests. He also noted that Baker’s Facebook wall is unregulated.
“I think our big challenge is that we want to make it as open as possible to connect as many people as possible,” Armbrester said.
“We really want to start a conversation throughout the state, staying focused and getting as many people involved as possible.”
Baker began with an informal survey of the demographics of the audience, resulting in a discovery that out of the about 50 students in the room, only about three students were, in fact, Massachusetts voters.