Gov. Baker Says He's Optimistic About Trump's Call For Unity

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Gov. Charlie Baker checks in to receive his ballot on Election Day. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Gov. Charlie Baker checks in to receive his ballot on Election Day. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

With Donald Trump now the president-elect, Republican Gov. Charlie Baker is trying to stay positive.

Even though his party's nominee won the White House, Baker has long said that Trump lacks the temperament to be president. Baker said he didn't vote for anyone at the top of the ticket on Tuesday.

"I thought both Donald Trump's comments last night and Secretary Clinton's comments this morning reflect a desire on the part of the two major players in this conversation to speak to, and to reach out for a unified process going forward, and of course I'm optimistic," Baker said Wednesday.

In addition to Baker's rocky history with Trump, Massachusetts' all-Democratic congressional delegation still finds itself in a fully Republican-controlled Congress. But the governor says it's too soon to say if Massachusetts could be hurt by a Trump administration.

"The first thing the Trump administration in waiting is going to have to do is to put a team together, and I've said many times that I think in public life and in private life, people are policy," Baker said. "And we'll know a lot more about the general direction of that administration as they start making announcements about people for key roles."

Gov. Baker says he has no "go-to" person in the Trump administration, but says he reached out to congratulate New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Baker endorsed Christie in the Republican presidential primary. Christie then went on to be a prominent supporter of Trump in the general election.

Baker also took very public stands on two ballot questions — Question 2 to lift the cap on charter schools and Question 4 to legalize marijuana. On each, voters chose to go the other way.

On the issue of schools, the governor says he and lawmakers will need to find a new way to close the achievement gap.

"Charter schools will continue to be part of the mix, as they have been historically, but maybe this means we need to do more of the empowerment zone type approaches that have been pursued in Springfield, or maybe we need to do some things to lengthen school days, similar to what the folks up in Lawrence have done," he said.

As for passage of Question 4 legalizing recreational marijuana, the governor says he will work with other leading lawmakers to honor the will of the voters, but will need to have conversations about the issue.

"To make sure that we come together around an approach and a strategy to this that assures that we deliver on what's expected and anticipated here," he said. "And at the same time, we have a commitment to make sure that we deal with some of the public safety and public health issues as well."

Gov. Baker disagreed with the notion he may be out of touch with voters in light of the ballot question outcomes.


Tufts political professor Jeff Berry says Baker has been cautious about using his political capital.

"Finally, after close to two years he decided to invest some of it," Berry said. "He invested it in [Question] 2 and he came up short, and it's a significant loss for the governor."

Berry says that while it's unlikely to severely damage his popularity, it does highlight another issue.

"I think what happens though is he doesn't have a lot of concrete accomplishments. He's been very focused on controlling the budget and making sure that the state management system operates well. Those aren't things that really score a lot of points with voters," Berry said. "So he comes across as competent, but he needs some accomplishments — something concrete that he can point to in 2018 as the Baker agenda. Things that he got done."

As for the state's relationship with the new Trump administration, Berry says Massachusetts will likely not be at the top of the list for federal projects.

This article was originally published on November 09, 2016.

This segment aired on November 9, 2016.


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Steve Brown is a veteran broadcast journalist who serves as WBUR's senior State House reporter.



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