Charles D. Baker ’79 clinched the Republican nomination for governor at the party convention Saturday, edging out Mark Fisher, a more conservative Republican candidate, for the gubernatorial nomination.
As a result, Baker will be the only Republican candidate to appear on the ballot during the September primary.
The decision to let Baker run uncontested in the Republican primary may give him a leg up by allowing him to focus on gathering support for the general election rather than working to fend off a conservative challenger.
“He can now run a general election [campaign] between now and November,” said Mary Anne Marsh, a democratic strategist for the Dewey Square Group’s Boston office. “That’s always an advantage. He won’t be having the Tea Party Republicans nipping at his heels like he would have if Fisher had made the ballot.”
Karyn E. Polito, a former state representative for the 11th Worcester District, received the nomination for lieutenant governor at the convention Saturday. Polito ran against Steve Grossman for state treasurer in 2010, and, although defeated, drew the highest vote count of any Republican candidate statewide.
Polito brings some political baggage to the race for lieutenant governor.
During the 2010 election cycle, Polito was accused of allegedly misusing her influence to secure rare Red Sox commemorative license plates for family and friends, according to the Boston Globe.
The Democrats may bring up the controversy again to tarnish her reputation, or they may also refrain from targeting the candidates and instead focus on lambasting national Republican policy.
According to former Boston City Councilor Lawrence S. DiCara ’71, the Democratic Party will likely attempt to align Baker with national Republican policy rather than going after his personal and political beliefs.
DiCara noted that if the Democrats manage to portray Baker as a more conservative Republican, he may have trouble attracting swing voters.
The Democratic convention will not take place until June, but the field of Democratic gubernatorial candidates has already grown competitive.
Marsh said she expects two or three candidates to secure the delegates needed to appear on the Democratic primary ballot. She expects the ballot to include Martha M. Coakley, Grossman, and Juliette N. Kayyem ’91—three candidates with high levels of public, financial, and delegate support.
Recent polls showed Baker to have more public support than all Democratic candidates except Coakley, who led Baker by 13 points.
“Republicans benefit time and time again by not having a lot of primaries,” DiCara said. “He is as prepared to be governor as anyone who has ever run for governor in the state of Massachusetts. He got today what the Democrats won’t have for almost seven and a half months. Now he can focus on the demographics he needs to.”
—Staff writer Conor J. Reilley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @c_reilley.
—Staff writer Zohra D. Yaqhubi can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter at @zohradyaqhubi.
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
CORRECTION: March 26, 2014
An earlier version of this article incorrectly attributed a College class year to Gubernatorial candidate Steve Grossman. In fact, while Grossman did earn a degree from Harvard Business School, he was not an undergraduate at the College.