FOR CHARLIE BAKER, 2018 BEGINS THE DAY HE TAKES OFFICE

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^ Charlie Baker today at Tito jackson’s Turkey Give-away; Juliette Kayyem may just be his toughest 2018 opponent

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The good thing is that he knows it. That plus his mere 40,000 vote victory, assure that as Governor, Baker will be extremely focused on mastering the task that he set himself and of which he became the symbol : making state government perform better.

H has another task that is driving him, a mission. Baker was surely disappointed to receive only about 9 percent of the vote in Boston’s Black community. That was nicer than Scott Brown’s 2010 special election total of about four percent; but considering the many, many campaign stops that Baker made in Roxbury, Grove Hall, and Mattapan, 9 percent had to hurt.

What has Baker done about this ? Plenty.

He has returned to Boston’s Black community numerous times since the election. He visited The Base at least three times, the Reggie Lewis center at least twice, and Grace Church of all Nations on one spectacular Sunday. And these are only the events that I am aware of. Surely I missed some, as I am not privy to the Governor’s schedule.

Baker is relentless about this. I think he wants actually to win Boston’s 40 or 50 black majority precincts come 2018. That would be a revolution. I see much evidence that he is determined to accomplish it.

Baker has also visited numerous other Boston events, of all types and in almost all neighborhoods. I see no reason to think he won’t continue to do the same all the way to the 2018 re-election year.

For all his Boston effort, Baker won only 30 percent of the City’s vote — the exact same prcentage that Scott Brown carried in 2010 when he won a US Senate seat. if Baker is to expand his re-election margin beyond the tightrope two-percent that he won three weeks ago, he can find no better place to get that done than in the communities of Boston where his vote has almost no place to go but up.

Granted that on november 4th he received about 19,000 votes from Bostonians who otherwise vored a straight Democratic ticket. Senator Ed Markey and Maura Healey for Attorney General won 80 and 81 % respectively; Coakley only 66 %. Baker has already won a significant vote bloc to his side.

Can he keep it ? Expand it ?

The voters of Boston are as connected to the real deals as any in Massachusetts — much more so. Baker is raising their expectations of him high, high, high. Granting him an A for effort will not be enough to meet those expectations; and the Capitol city has a Mayor who did everything he could to prevent a Baker victory. Mayor Walsh has much incentive to keep Baker from brandishing any policy that he, Mayor Walsh, does not agree with. For the time being, as the Baker administration remains an unrealized, big vista, Walsh is playing the friendship card with all the smile that he has in him. Baker, too. Soon enoiugh we shall see the next phase.

For now, Baker probably has the advantage : in 2017, when Walsh seeks re-election, his chief opponent is likely to be a person of color, and, very likely, given Baker’s full scale romancing Boston’s Black voters, a Baker ally.

Outside the city of Boston, the 2018 campiagn — yes, already begun — isn’t so personal. There, all that Baker need do is to get the job done, and to do it in a way that the voters see it. So far his cabbinet appointments met that test. All are well able, some superbly, to change Beacon Hill from sloppy tpo smooth. The only entanglement that may annoy voters in the Route 128 belt and east of Route 495 is policy. Many pressing issues have potential to throw Baker’s re-election way off track : charter schools, transportation funding, clean energy initiatives, in state tuition for undocumented immigrants (or for those given work perniots pursuant to President obama’s executive order). Baker has already signalled that he will play these divisive matters cautiously. Some voters may not like that.

The personal will also arise outside Boston (and in it) if the 2018 Democratic nominee has a better grasp of current social norms than Martha Coakley did. Coakley seemed even more of a 1990s person than the sports-bar-loving Baker : a hair-do’d cocktail party conversationalist In comparison, Juliette Kayyem and Maura Healey spoke the language of now, looked up to date, sleek as a Fort Point bistro.

Right now Maura Healey looks like Baker’s 2018 opponent; but the work of an attorney general, as we have seen time and agian, runs in the opposite direction from that of a governor. i see Juliette Kayyem as much the more plausible candidate, if she is of a mind to run again. She knows policy, she thinks outside the box, she understands the appeal, in Massachusetts, of Republicans as Governor and is not afraid to borrow Republican governor ideas — and to say so. Which makes her much more electric than the other Democratic candidates — even Healey — who don’t seem to grasp what the Massachusetts Republican party is about and why it has Governor appeal : non-ideological, good-government reform.

She’s also a realist. As she tweeted, to discouraged Democrats on November 5th : “this election is not a tragedy, it’s democracy.”

Her only weakness is that she seems so quintessentially a north-of-the-Charles River, academic, think-tank-y presence quite different from what Boston voters are used to. But then Mike Dukakis was like that, too, and he won three elections as governor.

He was also the embodiment of good government reform.

No wonder Baker is paying so much attention to the voters of Boston.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere

Author: hereandsphere

Here and Sphere is an online journal of news, opinion, reviews, advice, & bits n' pieces of everything else - from HERE to SPHERE...... Co-founded by Michael Freedberg, a long-time Boston Phoenix journalist, and Heather Cornell, a South Coast Massachusetts columnist and editor.

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