BOSTON — Republican Charlie Baker will announce a second bid for governor Wednesday, according to GOP sources, stoking party hopes for a resurgence in state politics.
Baker, the former CEO of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, lost to Gov. Deval Patrick in 2010.
But GOP operatives say they are confident he will fare better this time around.
“Lincoln lost 14 times before he became president of the United States,” said Ron Kaufman, the state Republican Party’s national committeeman.
Kaufman said Baker grew as a candidate during the 2010 election. And he argued that the GOP nominee will face a better electoral climate next year.
With Patrick stepping down after his second term, there will be no incumbent to dethrone. And it seems unlikely that an independent candidate will emerge to snatch moderate and conservative votes, like then state Treasurer Timothy Cahill did in 2010.
Kaufman also argued that a series of scandals in state government since the last election have left voters weary of Democratic rule.
Baker did not respond to a call from WBUR Tuesday about the planned announcement, first reported by The Boston Globe.
Widely considered a moderate in the vein of former Govs. William Weld and Paul Cellucci, Baker faced criticism after the 2010 election for catering to the conservative wing of the Republican Party.
But Peter Ubertaccio, a political science professor at Stonehill College, said he will not feel the same pressure to tack right next year.
“He ran [in 2010] at a time of the ascendancy of the Tea Party both here and around the country,” Ubertaccio said. “It didn’t do him any assistance.”
Former U.S. Sen. Scott Brown announced last month that he would not run for governor, providing Baker with a clear path to the GOP nomination.
Four Democrats are already in the race — state Treasurer Steven Grossman; Joseph Avellone, a surgeon and former Wellesley selectman; Donald Berwick, a former Obama administration health care official; and Juliette Kayyem, a former Obama administration homeland security official and Boston Globe columnist.
State Sen. Daniel Wolf has suspended his gubernatorial campaign amid a controversy over his holdings with Cape Air, which has contracts with the Massachusetts Port Authority for landing fees at Logan Airport.
The state Ethics Commission has found him in violation of a state law that forbids elected officials from having an interest in state contracts. Wolf is pushing for a reversal.
State Attorney General Martha Coakley, Congressman Michael Capuano and Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone are also considering bids for the Democratic nomination.
John Walsh, chairman of the Massachusetts Democratic Party, moved quickly Tuesday to resuscitate concerns about Baker’s management — as budget chief for former Gov. Cellucci – of the Big Dig construction project, which buried an elevated highway beneath downtown Boston.
Those concerns surfaced near the end of the 2010 race, when the Associated Press reported on a memo Baker authored in August 1998 laying out the financial problems besetting the project and suggesting the administration would have to make “draconian” cuts to the transportation budget after Cellucci made it through the coming election.
Ubertaccio, the political science professor, said he’s not sure the Big Dig attack will have the same power four years later. But he said Baker will face other hurdles.
The Republican will have to pick up large blocs of Democrats and independents to win in a deep blue state, he said. And it’s not clear, he said, that any of the leading Democratic candidates or would-be candidates would alienate sizable segments of the party’s base.
Ubertaccio said it’s also not clear that voters are prepared to jettison the approach laid out by Gov. Patrick over the last seven years.
But he said Baker ran a “very credible” campaign last time and will be a formidable candidate in the 2014 race.
Baker wound up with 42 percent of the vote to Patrick’s 48 percent in 2010. He joined Cambridge venture capital firm General Catalyst Partners after the election.