Baker's big win a GOP anomaly in heavily-Democratic state

  • Republican Gov. Charlie Baker celebrates with supporters during an election night rally Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018, in Boston. AP PHOTO/Winslow Townson

  • Republican Gov. Charlie Baker greets supporters during an election night rally Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018, in Boston. AP PHOTO/Winslow Townson

  • Republican Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito celebrate tduring an election night rally Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018, in Boston. AP PHOTO/Winslow Townson

  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., gives her victory speech at a Democratic election watch party in Boston, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018. AP PHOTO/Michael Dwyer

  • Democrat Ayanna Pressley gives her victory speech at an election night party after being elected to represent Massachusetts' 7th congressional district, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018, in Boston. AP PHOTO/Michael Dwyer

  • Republican Gov. Charlie Baker, right, and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito celebrate re-election during an election night rally Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018, in Boston. AP PHOTO/Winslow Townson

  • Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley speaks at a rally at City Hall in Boston, Oct. 1, 2018. On Nov. 6, Pressley became Massachusetts' first black woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. AP PHOTO/Mary Schwalm

Published: 11/7/2018 4:11:18 PM

BOSTON — Fresh off a convincing re-election win, Republican Gov. Charlie Baker pledged Wednesday to serve all four years of his second term, but wouldn’t say yet whether he hopes to continue in office beyond that.

Unofficial returns from Tuesday’s election showed Baker winning about two-thirds of the vote in his race against Democrat Jay Gonzalez, including solid showings in Democratic-leaning urban areas of Massachusetts.

The moderate Republican took nearly 50 percent of the vote in Boston, and handily won in other cities including Worcester, Springfield and New Bedford.

“People want their public officials to spend a little less time yelling at each other and a little more time trying to actually accomplish things,” said Baker, who has touted his efforts to avoid partisan bickering and work collaboratively with the Democratic-controlled Legislature.

Calling the day after the election just another “work day,” he began Wednesday by meeting with his cabinet and senior staff. He said there was a “ton of work” still to be done on issues ranging from opioid addiction to housing and climate change, but didn’t offer any specific new proposals for his second term.

Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito continue to stand as a GOP island in a sea of Democratic influence in Massachusetts. Voters Tuesday returned an all-Democratic congressional delegation to Washington, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who easily defeated two opponents and is among potential Democratic challengers to President Donald Trump in 2020.

Warren did little to discourage the speculation with a sharp attack on the president in her victory speech.

“Donald Trump still practices the dark art of ruling by fear— fear whipped up to turn hard-working Americans against other hard working Americans,” she said.

With Democrats seizing control of the U.S. House in the midterm elections, several members of the Massachusetts delegation stand to emerge as powerful players on Capitol Hill in the 2019-2020 Congress. Rep. Richard Neal, of Springfield, is in line to chair the House Ways and Means Committee while Rep. Jim McGovern, of Worcester, is likely to chair the influential Rules Committee.

Baker said he “absolutely” planned to serve all four years of his upcoming term and dismissed speculation that his success in Massachusetts could raise his national stature among Republicans heading into 2020.

He would not rule out the possibility of seeking a third term but said any decision on that would come further down the road.

Baker cited as one of the most “positive developments” of Tuesday’s voting to be the re-election of several other Republican governors in the northeast who he considers moderate, including Gov. Phil Scott in Vermont, Gov. Chris Sununu in New Hampshire and Gov. Larry Hogan in Maryland.

Also Tuesday, transgender supporters in Massachusetts and the nation were celebrating the passage of the first-ever statewide referendum on a transgender rights law. LGBTQ advocates feared a vote to undo the 2016 law that bars discrimination against transgender people in public accommodations could lead to similar attempts to repeal other state laws.

The Massachusetts Nurses Association, meanwhile, said it was disappointed voters rejected a ballot question that would have set strict limits on the number of patients a single nurses could care for at one time. Donna Kelly-Williams, the president of the union, said hospital executives who opposed the measure spread “fear and confusion” among voters.

Steve Walsh, president of the Massachusetts Health and Hospital Association, said defeat of the ballot question would be good for patients, but added that hospitals were willing to continue discussing appropriate staffing levels.

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