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UPDATED: November 5, 2014, at 3:51 a.m.
BOSTON––Once a longshot in the polls, Republican Charles D. Baker ’79 will be the next governor of Massachusetts after defeating Democratic Attorney General Martha M. Coakley in statewide voting on Tuesday, according to the Associated Press.
Baker, who served in the cabinets of two Republican governors in the 1990s and is the former CEO of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, won by a razor-thin margin that, as of 3:25 a.m., was about 35,000 votes. With 98 percent of precincts reporting, Baker had secured 48.4 percent of the vote to Coakley’s 46.7 percent.
“No one is more anxious to get started on building a great commonwealth of Massachusetts than I am,” Baker told his supporters around 1:20 a.m. “Tonight the voters said yes.”
The campaign was Baker’s second for the governorship, and analysts said the Republican ran a far stronger race this time around than in 2010, when he lost to Gov. Deval L. Patrick ’78. Baker joins a long line of moderate Republican governors in the Bay State, including Mitt Romney and William F. Weld ’66.
With Patrick firmly declaring that he would not seek a third term, the race to replace him stretched out for over a year. Though Coakley took an early lead, the race narrowed over the summer, and after both candidates won their party primaries, Baker gained momentum.
On Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning at Baker’s headquarters at the Seaport Hotel in Boston, the mood shifted from “electric” to “tense” and back to “very optimistic,” attendees said, as Baker’s vote tally rose and fell and, early in the evening, Coakley briefly gained the lead.
But at Coakley’s election night party at the Fairmont Copley Plaza, the crowd went on an emotional roller coaster, with energy swelling as Coakley held a small lead around 10:30 p.m. and taking a somber turn as the Republicans took the U.S. Senate and Coakley’s lead dwindled and disappeared. At around 12:30 a.m., campaign staff told disheartened partygoers to head for home. Coakley, who remained in a hotel suite with advisers and then left for her home in Medford, never made an appearance at her event.
“It’s sad. A lot of people poured their heart and soul into this,” said Coakley campaign volunteer Nicholas Boretti as guests began to file out. “This is kind of a big blow to everyone involved, and you see a lot of people here in tears. Hopefully she does say something and come out.”
Emotions ran high at both events. At the Baker election night party, supporters predicted that a Baker governorship would bring increased transparency and accountability to a state where the legislature is dominated by the Democrats.
“He’d be a lot more fiscally responsible––he is a businessman. Periodically we need people that can develop strategic plans,” said Susan Slonim, a registered independent and Baker donor.
Supporters also said that Baker could work across the aisle to bring “balance to Beacon Hill,” where Democrats currently control both chambers of the state legislature.
Eva Montibello, a Baker supporter, said that she appreciated Baker’s tone on election night.
“He spoke conservatively and respectfully of the attorney general,” Montibello said.
“Going forward, I think the new vision is inspiring. I know he can deliver on the new vision.”
But the road forward will not be easy for Baker.
“He ran a great campaign; he’s run before,” said Lawrence S. DiCara '71, a former Boston city councillor and state political analyst. “He’s going to have to learn how to govern with [Democratic] supermajorities.”
—Staff writer Mariel A. Klein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @mariel_klein.
—Staff writer Ivan B. K. Levingston can be reached at Ivan.Levingston@thecrimson.com. Follow him on Twitter @IvanLevingston.
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