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Heller overseer not to run for governer

Published: September 2, 2005
Section: News


Heller overseer Charles D. Baker will not run for the governorship of Massachusetts on the Republican ticket, despite his previous speculation that he would. This may imply that current Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney will seek re-election and not step down at the end of his term as had previously been rumored.

Baker previously stated that he would run if Romney chose to not seek re-election and run for U.S. President. Bakers decision was announced Monday on NPR. The official reason given was that Baker would like to put his family first for now and concentrate on that.

Bakers resume is long and distinguished in both the public and private sphere. He currently serves on the Board of Overseers of the Heller School, he chairs the Massachusetts Association of Health Plans, and he has a seat on the board of selectmen for Swampscott, MA. He was also Secretary of Health and Human Services in the Weld administration.

Most prominently, however, he is the CEO of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, the largest HMO in the state of Massachusetts, currently providing coverage for people in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine. The insurance giant was posting losses in the hundreds of millions of dollars when Baker assumed leadership in 1999, but Bakers actions including overhauling senior management, withdrawing from the Rhode Island market, and cutting 2,000 jobs narrowed those losses to $10 million in 2000 and profitability in every year since then.

So sure was he that he would enter the race, Baker agreed to a phone interview with a Hoot staff writer to discuss his reasons for seeking the governorship and his plans for the state. However, an hour before the scheduled interview was to take place, Bakers office called and cancelled, preemptively denying requests for any future interviews on the subject and expressing Bakers wish to move on and focus on Harvard Pilgrim.

In a press release, Baker did not rule out a future run for governor but echoed the above sentiments while putting emphasis on his personal life by saying that while this might be a good time politically for me to engage in a campaign for Governor, Ive concluded that it is not the right time for my family. For me, personally, entering this race at this time would require putting my interests above the interests of the rest of my family. Baker has two sons, aged 11 and 14, and one daughter, 8.

Baker was generally seen as a strong candidate, both to capture the Republican nomination and to eventually win the governorship. Massachusetts-based liberal blog The Blue Mass. Group (http://bluemassgroup.typepad.com/) had marked Baker as a formidable opponent due to his policy expertise and his charismatic, ebullient personality.

Bakers exit from the field leaves current Lt. Governor Kerry Healey as the Republican candidate should Romney not run, while the Democratic nominee looks to be either Attorney General Thomas Reilly or Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin, though the primary races are far from over and there is still a great deal of speculation over who is still to announce.

Romney is expected to make his decision fairly soon, though low poll numbers and a rumored desire to try for the White House make another Romney administration seem uncertain.

Baker is currently a Selectman in the Town of Swampscott, MA.