2018 Massachusetts gubernatorial race starts to take shape

Mayor Setti Warren of Newton, Massachusetts announced his intention to run for governor of the state on Saturday. So far two other Democratic candidates have announced: Robert Massie, an environmental activist, and Jay Gonzalez, a state budget official under former Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick.

They will be running to unseat the very popular and well-funded Republican Gov. Charlie Baker in 2018. Baker hasn’t announced plans to run again, but is expects to.

According to WBUR:

An Iraq War veteran who briefly ran for the U.S. Senate in 2011, Warren is touting two ambitious – and potentially expensive – ideas to make what he calls a “generational investment,” and help close the gap between rich and poor: a government-backed single-payer health care system and free tuition at all public colleges and universities including the University of Massachusetts.

Setti also proposes to improve transportation in the state, and to institute a so-called “millionaires’ tax,” which “calls for a 4 percent surtax on any part of an individual’s income above $1 million” to help pay or his programs.”

Massie and Gonzales also support the tax.

A small sample size poll(400 RV) back in September showed Baker ahead of Setti 40 to 17 percent, with 36 percent undecided. At this point, the race has to be considered “Likely Republican” at least.

Governing magazine rates Baker as potentially vulnerable because Massachusetts is an increasingly blue state and though Baker is a moderate Trump and others could cause a polarizing dynamic.

Beyond a strong Democrat taking the plunge, the biggest risk for Baker would be a partisan Democratic backlash against Trump during the 2018 midterm election that filters down the ballot.

Initially perennial crazy person Kurt Schilling was thinking about running against Elizabeth Warren for U.S. Senate though has now decided not to. Whoever runs, if Trump is still president by then, the race will be polarizing because the Trump-Elizabeth Warren dynamic is so toxic.

Alternately, the Trump White House could encourage a GOP primary challenge [to Baker]  from a more hard-edged conservative, such as 2014 candidate Mark Fisher or state Rep. Geoff Diehl.

But these are theoretical possibilities for now; unless one of these dramatic upheavals comes to pass, Baker looks good to win another term.

2018 will be a complicated year for Republicans, I reckon.

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