With Gov. Baker Leaving, GOP Brahmins Out, Kennedys Back in Massachusetts

With Gov. Baker Leaving, GOP Brahmins Out, Kennedys Back in Massachusetts charlie baker speaks during a news Massachusetts GOP Gov. Charlie Baker (Charles Krupa/AP)

John Gizzi By John Gizzi Wednesday, 01 December 2021 05:54 PM Current | Bio | Archive

Hours after Charlie Baker announced Wednesday he would not seek reelection as governor of Massachusetts next year, two observations were increasingly heard by the Bay State's punditocracy.

First, there was a growing conclusion "Brahmins" — blue-blooded liberal Republicans from Ivy League schools such as Baker – would soon be extinct; second, former Rep. Joe Kennedy, D-Mass., would revive his family's political dynasty by running for the nearly sure-to-be open office of state attorney general.

After two terms in the statehouse, Baker, 65, was becoming known nationwide as the Democrats' favorite Republican. He oversaw record-high investments in affordable housing and a state indoor and outdoor masking law that ended in May.

Baker also differed from most Republicans on cultural issues such as abortion, and unapologetically supported the first impeachment of President Donald Trump in 2019.

Trump, in turn, endorsed Baker's likely conservative primary challenger, former State Rep. and 2018 GOP Senate nominee Geoff Diehl.

"Had he run again, Gov. Baker would have lost the endorsement at the statewide convention and would have had to have depended on groups outside the party for funding," a former state GOP official who requested anonymity told Newsmax.

Harvard graduate Baker's exodus means the reign in GOP politics of the "Brahmins" might have come to an end. For years, from the days of Sens. Henry Cabot Lodge (1936-42, 1946-52) and Leverett Saltonstall (1952-58) to Gov. Bill Weld (1990-97), the Republican Party of Massachusetts was a wholly owned subsidiary of these decidedly non-conservative leaders.

Now, more conservative figures are rising to the top. Diehl, a Trump Republican, might be challenged by Taunton Mayor Shaunna O'Connell. Considered a "populist conservative," O'Connell, 51, was just reelected mayor by a landslide and came back to office with a Republican majority on the City Council.

Among Democrats, betting is strong State Attorney General Maura Healey would jump in the race with three lesser-known candidates. Healey, 50, has always had strong support from EMILY's List and other left-of-center outlets and would be a strong favorite for nomination.

"It's Maura Healey's nomination for the asking if she runs," veteran Massachusetts political consultant Holly Robichaud said. "The only Democrat who could threaten her is someone with very deep pockets."

Her departure from the office of attorney general, Bay State sources agree, paves the way for Kennedy to make a comeback. His election as the state's top law enforcement official would restore the virtually un-broken line of Kennedys representing Massachusetts in Congress that began with great-uncle John Kennedy's election to the House in 1946 and ended with JPK-3's defeat in the Democrat primary by Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., in 2020.

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.

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