Massachusetts Republican Geoff Diehl, a former state representative running for governor, welcomed Gov. Charlie Baker's decision this week not to pursue a third term.
The move appears to give Diehl a clear path to capture his party's nomination next year, unless other major candidates join the race.
Lt. Gov Karyn Polito, who had long been considered the heir apparent to Baker, announced this week that she also doesn't plan to run again. And Diehl, who served as co-chair of Donald Trump's presidential campaign in Massachusetts, has already received Trump's endorsement, which could carry weight with many Republican voters.
"On the Republican side, I feel we really have a chance to be unified in 2022," Diehl told WBUR outside a fundraiser in Waltham Thursday evening. "This gives me a chance to speak to the entire state — that gives them a chance to know what I'm more about."
Still, political analysts say Diehl, a conservative, could face an uphill battle to beat a Democrat in the general election in a largely Democratic state. Diehl lost to Sen. Elizabeth Warren in 2018 and Trump lost the state by a wide margin.
Three prominent Democrats have announced plans to run for governor: state Sen. Sonia Chang-Díaz, Harvard professor Danielle Allen and former state Sen. Ben Downing. Attorney General Maura Healey has not said yet whether she will join the race.