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Charlie Baker

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Charlie Baker
Charlie Baker official portrait.jpg
72nd Governor of Massachusetts
Assumed office
January 8, 2015
Lieutenant Karyn Polito
Preceded by Deval Patrick
Massachusetts Secretary of Administration and Finance
In office
November 1994 – September 1998
Governor Bill Weld
Paul Cellucci
Preceded by Mark Robinson
Succeeded by Frederick Laskey
Massachusetts Secretary of Health and Human Services
In office
October 1992 – November 1994
Governor Bill Weld
Preceded by David Forsberg
Succeeded by Gerald Whitburn
Personal details
Born Charles Duane Baker Jr.
(1956-11-13) November 13, 1956 (age 61)
Elmira, New York, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Lauren Schadt
Children 3
Education Harvard University (BA)
Northwestern University (MBA)
Website Government website

Charles Duane Baker Jr. (born November 13, 1956) is an American businessman and politician serving as the 72nd and current Governor of Massachusetts, having been sworn into office on January 8, 2015. He was a cabinet official under two Governors of Massachusetts and spent ten years as CEO of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care.

Raised in Needham, Massachusetts, Baker is the son of a Republican executive official who worked under Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon. He graduated from Harvard College and obtained an MBA from Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management.

In 1991, he became Massachusetts undersecretary of health and human services under Governor William Weld. In 1992, he was appointed secretary of health and human services of Massachusetts. He later served as secretary of administration and finance under Weld and his successor, Paul Cellucci.

After working in government for eight years, Baker left to become CEO of Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates and later Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, a non-profit health benefits company.

During this time he served three years as a selectman of Swampscott, Massachusetts, and considered a run for governor in 2006. He stepped down in July 2009 to run for governor on a platform of fiscal conservatism and social liberalism. He was unopposed in the Republican primary, but lost in the general election to the Democratic incumbent, Deval Patrick.

Running for governor again, on November 4, 2014, he won the general election against Democrat Martha Coakley by a narrow margin, with neither candidate reaching 50 percent of the vote. Baker is running for reelection in 2018.[1]

Early life and career[edit]

Baker was born on November 13, 1956 in Elmira, New York. Of English ancestry, his family has been in what is now the northeastern United States since the Colonial era.[2] He is the fourth generation in the family to bear the forename Charles.[3][4]

His great-grandfather, Charles D. Baker (1846–1934), was an assistant United States attorney in New York, who served several years in the New York State Assembly.[5] His grandfather, Charles D. Baker Jr. (c. 1890–1971), was a prominent politician in Newburyport, Massachusetts.[6][7]

His father, Charles Duane Baker (born 1928), a Harvard graduate, was a buyer for the Westinghouse Electric Corporation, while his mother, Alice Elizabeth "Betty" (née Ghormley), remained at home.[3][8][9]

Baker grew up with two younger brothers, Jonathan and Alex, in Needham, Massachusetts, with a second home in Rockport. He grew up playing football, hockey, and baseball; he has described his childhood as "pretty all-American".[3]

Baker's father was a conservative Republican, his mother a liberal Democrat, and the family was often drawn into political arguments at the dinner table.[3] His father became vice president of Harbridge House, a Boston management consulting firm, in 1965.

In 1969, the family moved to Washington, D.C., where the elder Baker was named deputy undersecretary of the Department of Transportation in the Nixon administration, and the next year became the department's assistant secretary for policy and international affairs.[3][8] His father also served as undersecretary of the United States Department of Health and Human Services in the Reagan administration.[10]

The family returned to Needham in 1971, where Baker attended Needham High School.[8][11] He served on the student council, played basketball, and joined DeMolay International, a youth fraternity organization. In a Bay State Conference championship basketball game, a ball he inbounded with 2 seconds left on the clock, was tipped away by a player from Dedham High School, causing Needham to lose by a single point.[12][13]

He reluctantly attended Harvard College "because of the brand", graduating in 1979, with a BA in English. He later reflected negatively on the experience, writing, "With a few exceptions ... those four years are ones I would rather forget."[3][11] While at Harvard, Baker played on the JV basketball team, utilizing his 6 foot 6 inch stature. He then attended Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management, where he received an MBA in management. After graduating, Baker served as corporate communications director for the Massachusetts High Technology Council.[14]

State government career[edit]

In the late 1980s, Baker was hired as codirector of the newly founded Pioneer Institute, a Boston-based libertarian think tank. Lovett C. "Pete" Peters, the institute's founder, later recommended him to William Weld, the incoming Republican Governor of Massachusetts.[11] Weld took office in January 1991 and hired him as Undersecretary of Health and Human Services.

In cutting back state programs and social services, Baker caused controversy from early on. However, some government officials called him an "innovator" and "one of the big stars among the secretariats and the agencies".[14] Baker was promoted to Secretary of Health and Human Services in November 1992,[14] and was later made Secretary of Administration and Finance, a position he continued to hold after Weld resigned in 1997 and Paul Cellucci took over as acting governor. In mid-1998, Cellucci offered him the lieutenant governor spot on the ticket, but Baker declined.[11]

As Secretary of Administration and Finance, Baker was a main architect of the Big Dig financing plan. In 1997 the federal government was planning to cut funding for the Big Dig by $300 million per year.[15] The state set up a trust and sold Grant Anticipation Notes (GANs) to investors. The notes were secured by promising future federal highway funds. As federal highway dollars are awarded to Massachusetts, the money is used to pay off the GANs.[15][16]

According to a 2007 blue-ribbon panel, the cost overruns of the Big Dig, combined with Baker's plan for financing them, ultimately left the state transportation system underfunded by $1 billion a year.[15] Baker defended his plan as responsible, effective, and based on previous government officials' good-faith assurances that the Big Dig would be built on time and on budget.[15] However, as he was developing the plan, Baker had also had to take into account that Governor Cellucci was dead-set against any new taxes or fees.[15] Former State Transportation Secretary James J. Kerasiotes, the public face of the Big Dig, praised Baker's work on the financing and said, "We were caught in a confluence of events," adding that "Charlie had a job to do, and he did his job and he did it well".[15]

Health industry career[edit]

In September 1998, Baker left state government and became CEO of Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates, a New England–based physicians' group.[11] In May 1999, he was named president and CEO of Harvard Vanguard's parent company, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, a non-profit health benefits organization.[17] The company had lost $58 million in 1998[18] and was predicted to lose over $90 million in 1999.[19] Baker responded by cutting the workforce by 90 people, increasing premiums, establishing new contracts with Massachusetts physicians, reassessing the company's financial structure, and outsourcing its information technology.[17][20] During his tenure as CEO, the company had 24 profitable quarters in a row and earned recognition from the National Committee for Quality Assurance as its choice for America's Best Health Plan for five straight years.[11]

In mid-2007, Baker was invited to join the board of trustees of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. Because of Baker's role in the insurance business, the appointment caused controversy, but he and the hospital's CEO, Paul F. Levy, denied any conflict of interest.[21] Baker also serves on the board of directors of the Kenneth B. Schwartz Center,[22] which, according to its website, is a "national nonprofit leading the movement to bring compassion to every patient-caregiver interaction."[23]

Return to politics[edit]

Baker ran for the board of selectmen of Swampscott, Massachusetts, in 2004, and won by a "landslide".[11] While on the board, he was noted for a businessman-like approach to local issues; his fellow selectmen described him as "low key" and budget-oriented.[24] After serving three years, he chose not to run for re-election in 2007.[25]

In mid-2005, there were indications that Governor Mitt Romney would not seek re-election in the 2006 Massachusetts gubernatorial election. Baker was widely considered a top contender to take Romney's place as the Republican candidate.[26] Analysts wrote that Baker was unlikely to defeat Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey, who had already announced her candidacy. Healey was the 2–1 favorite among Republican voters in a Boston Globe poll and had much stronger financial backing. Furthermore, ethics guidelines at Harvard Pilgrim prevented Baker from carrying out any political fundraising while he held an executive position.[26] After "giving serious consideration" to the idea, he announced in August 2005 that he would not run, citing the burden it would be on his family and the difficulty of campaigning against Healey.[26]

In late 2006, Baker was named to a Budget and Finance working group for incoming Governor Deval Patrick's transition committee.[27] In 2008, he joined the Public Advisory Board of the New Hampshire Institute of Politics (NHIOP) at Saint Anselm College.[28]

2010 Massachusetts gubernatorial campaign[edit]

In 2009 Baker was again rumored to be a contender for the Massachusetts gubernatorial election. Former governor Weld strongly encouraged him to run, calling him "the heart and soul of the Weld–Cellucci administration".[29] On July 8, 2009, Baker announced his candidacy, and on July 17 he stepped down from his position at Harvard Pilgrim Health Care.[30][31] His campaign formally began on January 30, 2010. His opponents were Democratic incumbent Deval Patrick, Green-Rainbow candidate Jill Stein, and an Independent, State Treasurer and Receiver General Tim Cahill.[32] For his running mate, Baker chose Senate minority leader Richard R. Tisei.[33] At the state Republican Convention on April 17, 2010, Baker beat former Independent candidate Christy Mihos for the Republican nomination, winning with 89% of the delegate vote, thus avoiding a primary fight with Mihos.[34]

Baker ran as a social liberal (in favor of gay marriage and abortion rights) but a fiscal conservative, stressing job creation as his primary focus.[30][31] His campaign centered on "Baker's Dozen", a plan outlining 13 areas of state government reform. Baker's campaign said that his plan, which included consolidation of government, welfare reform, and restructuring of public employee pension and retirement benefits, would lower state expenditures by over $1 billion.[35] Baker, a former member of the Massachusetts Board of Education, advocated increasing the number of charter, magnet, and alternative schools. Believing that education is a "civil right", he also aimed to close the educational achievement gap among underprivileged and minority students.[36] At a town hall meeting in Chilmark, Massachusetts, on the island of Martha's Vineyard, Baker voiced his opposition to the proposed Cape Wind project supported by Governor Deval Patrick.[37]

Baker ran against Patrick in an atmosphere of voter discontent, with a slow economy and high unemployment, which he used to his advantage during the campaign. Patrick, facing low approval ratings, criticized Baker for his role in the Big Dig financing plan, and for raising health premiums while head of Harvard Pilgrim.[38] Despite an anti-incumbent mood among voters, Baker was defeated in the November 2 general election with 42 percent of the vote. Patrick was re-elected with 48 percent of the vote.[39] "We fought the good fight," said Baker in his concession speech. "We have no cause to hang our heads and will be stronger for having fought this one."[38]

After the 2010 election, Baker was named an executive in residence at General Catalyst Partners and a member of the board of directors at the Tremont Credit Union.[40]

2014 Massachusetts gubernatorial campaign[edit]

Republican candidate for governor Charlie Baker at the Rappaport Center for Law and Public Service at Suffolk Law School on February 4, 2014.

On September 4, 2013, Baker announced that he would run again for Governor of Massachusetts in 2014 when incumbent Governor Deval Patrick, to whom he lost in 2010, retired. On November 25, 2013, Mark Fisher, a businessman and Tea Party member announced that he would run against Baker in the Republican primary.[41]

At the Republican State Convention on March 22, 2014, Baker received 2,095 votes (82.708%), Fisher received 374 votes (14.765%) and there were 64 blank votes (2.527%). The threshold for making the ballot is 15% and the party announced that Baker had thus received the nomination without the need for a primary election.[42] However, Fisher argued that according to the Convention Rules, blank votes are not counted for the purposes of determining the winner and that he thus received 15.148%, enough to make the ballot. He sued the Massachusetts Republican State Committee and was certified for the primary ballot after a lengthy battle.[43][44][45][46] In the primary election held on September 9, Baker defeated Fisher with 74% of the vote.

In July 2014, Baker was criticized by Democrats for refusing to say whether he supported a provision in the new gun control law that gave police chiefs discretion to deny firearms identification cards, which are required to purchase shotguns and rifles.[47] He later stated in a debate that he would have signed the gun control bill as it was signed by Governor Patrick.[48]

On October 27, 2014, The Boston Globe announced that it was endorsing Baker marking the first time in twenty years that newspaper has supported a Republican candidate for governor. "One needn't agree with every last one of Baker's views to conclude that, at this time, the Republican nominee would provide the best counterpoint to the instincts of an overwhelmingly Democratic Legislature," the endorsement reads. The newspaper also supported Baker because it claimed Baker would be the better candidate to "consolidate" outgoing Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick's legacy on reforms tied to education, health care and public transportation.[49]

On October 29, 2014, controversy arose over a story that Baker told the previous night about a fisherman and his two sons in New Bedford. In the following days, The Boston Globe and The Standard-Times were unable to find the fisherman. This story, which Baker claims to have occurred in 2009, has been attributed by a professor from Northeastern University as a potential false memory. Coakley seized on this moment to launch an attack on Baker, and visited New Bedford to meet with fishing industry leaders.[50]

In the early morning of November 5, 2014, preliminary results showed that Baker won the gubernatorial election.[51] Later in the morning of November 5, Democratic opponent Martha Coakley conceded the race to Baker.[52] The final election tally showed Baker with 48.5% of the vote against Coakley's 46.5%.[53]

Governor of Massachusetts[edit]

Baker was inaugurated on January 8, 2015 as the 72nd Governor of Massachusetts at the Massachusetts State House in Boston.[54]

Approval ratings[edit]

Job Approval

Polling group Date Approval Disapproval Unsure
Suffolk University[55] April 16–21, 2015 70% 6% 23%
Morning Consult[56] May–November 2015 72% 16% 12%
Suffolk University[57] November 18–22, 2015 70% 12% 17%
Morning Consult[58] January–May 2016 72% 16% 12%
Suffolk University[59] May 2–5, 2016 71% 11% 17%
Morning Consult[60] May–September 2016 70% 18% 12%
UMass Amherst/WBZ-TV[61] September 15–20, 2016 63% 23% 15%
Suffolk University[57] October 24–26, 2016 69% 10% 19%
Morning Consult[62] January–March 2017 75% 17% 8%
Morning Consult[58] April 1–July 10, 2017 71% 17% 12%
Morning Consult[63] July 1–September 30, 2017 69% 17% 14%
WBUR-FM[64] January 5–7, 2018 74% 13% 13%


Polling group Date Favorable Unfavorable Unsure
WBUR-FM[65] June 4–6, 2015 69% 10% 17%
WBUR-FM[66] July 6–8, 2015 64% 14% 18%
Suffolk University[57] November 18–22, 2015 70% 15% 12%
Suffolk University[59] May 2–5, 2016 66% 12% 17%
WBUR-FM[67] September 7–10, 2016 62% 16% 17%
UMass Amherst/WBZ-TV[61] September 15–20, 2016 63% 24% 14%
WBUR-FM[68] October 13–16, 2016 55% 17% 22%
Suffolk University[57] October 24–26, 2016 64% 12% 18%
WBUR-FM[69] January 15–17, 2017 59% 18% 20%
WBUR-FM[70] June 19–22, 2017 64% 15% 18%
WBUR-FM[71] January 5–7, 2018 66% 17% 17%

In July 2016, the market research firm Gravis Marketing conducting a poll on ballot questions and state politics for Jobs First, a conservative political action committee, found Baker having a two-thirds favorability rating.[72]

Environmental policy[edit]

On March 31, 2015, Baker ordered a review of the state's environmental regulations, specifying that they not exceed federal requirements if they "unduly and adversely affect Massachusetts citizens and customers of the Commonwealth."[73] Prior to the United States withdrawal from the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change mitigation, Baker along with Vermont Governor Phil Scott wrote a letter to U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry urging the Trump Administration to remain committed to the agreement.[74][75][76] After U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the agreement, Baker criticized the decision and was among ten American governors that agreed to continue upholding the standards of the agreement within their states.[77][78][79][80]

Fiscal policy[edit]

During Baker's first two years as governor, the state income tax has dropped to 5.1%.[81][82] Baker has opposed implementing a "millionaire's tax,"[83] vetoed a vehicle miles traveled tax,[84][85][86] originally supported but then opposed extending the state hotel tax to short-term rentals (such as Airbnb),[87][88][89] favored a ballot measure that repealed indexing the state gas tax to inflation,[90] signed into law an expansion of the state earned income tax credit,[91] opposed the 2016 ballot initiative to legalize the recreational use of marijuana with a 3.75% excise tax levied on sales of marijuana products,[92][93] and signed into law a six-month delay in the issuance of licenses for retailing marijuana in shops.[94][95] In 2016, the Massachusetts general fund budget rose by 6.1 percent[96] and the state budget for the 2016 fiscal year had a year-end shortfall of more than $300 million and could be as large $750 million for the following year.[97] In December 2016, Baker unilaterally cut $98 million from the state budget, including many of the $265 million in items that he had vetoed the previous July, $231 million of which the state legislature overrode.[98][99][100] The midyear cuts prompted criticism and opposition from State House of Representatives Speaker Robert DeLeo, State Senate President Stan Rosenberg, and State Senate Ways and Means Committee Chair Karen Spilka.[101][102][103] However, in February 2017, tax revenues came in 9.1 percent lower than expected and the likelihood of overturning the cuts became unlikely, and in March 2017, Speaker DeLeo stated that reversing those midyear cuts would be "difficult."[104][105]

On January 25, 2017, Baker proposed a $40.5 billion state budget for fiscal year 2018,[106] and on March 9, 2017, legislative hearings began to review it.[107] Tax changes proposed in Baker's 2018 budget proposal include extending the state sales tax to online retailers without physical storefronts or offices in-state, a requirement that credit card companies send a 1099 tax form to individuals earning more than $600 from credit and debit card transactions, extending the state's hotel tax to room-sharing services and individuals who rent out rooms for more than 150 days a year, and a $2,000-per-employee assessment on employers that do not offer health insurance to counter spending growth in the state Medicaid program, MassHealth.[108] Spending increases to MassHealth, local government and local education aid, higher education (including $78 million towards repairs of the University of Massachusetts Boston underground parking garage),[109][110][111] an anti-opioid trafficking program and substance abuse services, homelessness prevention, improvement in clinical services at Bridgewater State Hospital, the Department of Children and Families to hire more case workers, a job retraining fund, an MBTA subsidy, and increasing state tax credits to businesses that hire unemployed military veterans are included in the proposal.[112][113]

Personal life[edit]

Baker married Lauren Cardy Schadt, another Kellogg alum, in 1987. Lauren was an assistant account executive at a New York advertising agency and is the daughter of James P. Schadt, the former CEO of Reader's Digest and Cadbury Schweppes Americas Beverages.[114] They live in Swampscott, Massachusetts, with their three children.[115]

Baker is known to chime in on popular culture issues from time-to-time: in 2015, Boston magazine wrote a piece on the Governor's music preferences, stating that Baker "is shamelessly Top 40 in his tastes, stuck mostly in the classic rock that dominated radio of his teens and twenties, aka the 1970s and ’80s" but holding "a deep knowledge and appreciation for the Ramones, Green Day, and the Dropkick Murphys."[116] That same year, the Governor, a lifelong Star Wars fan, admitted to not being a fan of the prequels nor the sequels that follow the original trilogy.[117]

Electoral history[edit]

Massachusetts Gubernatorial Republican Primary Election, 2010
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Charlie Baker 215,008 98.3
Republican All others 2,179 1.0
Republican Scott Lively (write-in) 1,021 0.5
Republican Tim Cahill (write-in) 448 0.2
Massachusetts Gubernatorial Election, 2010
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Deval Patrick/Tim Murray (inc.) 1,112,283 48.4
Republican Charlie Baker/Richard Tisei 964,866 42.0
Independent Tim Cahill/Paul Loscocco 184,395 8.0
Green-Rainbow Jill Stein/Richard Purcell 32,895 1.4
Write-ins All others 2,601 0.1
Massachusetts Gubernatorial Republican Primary Election, 2014
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Charlie Baker 116,004 74.1
Republican Mark Fisher 40,240 25.7
Republican All others 336 0.2
Massachusetts Gubernatorial Election, 2014
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Charlie Baker/Karyn Polito 1,044,573 48.4
Democratic Martha Coakley/Steve Kerrigan 1,004,408 46.5
United Independent Evan Falchuk/Angus Jennings 71,814 3.3
Independent Scott Lively/Shelly Saunders 19,378 0.9
Independent Jeff McCormick/Tracy Post 16,295 0.8
Write-ins All others 1,858 0.1


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External links[edit]

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