Charlie Baker, the moderate Republican governor of Massachusetts, said former President Donald Trump’s influence hurt their party in this year’s midterm elections as voters demonstrated they “aren’t interested in extremism.”
In an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper, Baker said Trump “hurt the party’s chances on Election Day, not just here in Massachusetts and Maryland, but in many of those other battleground states.”
“The big message coming out of Tuesday – and I would argue the big message voters are going to send going forward – is you need to demonstrate in word and deed that you believe this is more, that this is always going to be about more, than just your party and your supporters,” Baker said.
His comments come on the eve of what Trump is characterizing as a “special announcement” Tuesday at Mar-a-Lago. While speaking on Steve Bannon’s podcast Friday, Trump adviser Jason Miller said the former president would be announcing a 2024 presidential run.
In this year’s midterm elections, across key battleground states, including Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, Trump endorsed candidates who embraced his lies about widespread election fraud. Most of those candidates lost.
Baker, who is set to depart office after two terms in the deep-blue state’s governor’s office, said he thinks voters want “elected officials who are going to reach out, who are going to engage with the so-called other side and who are going to take seriously this idea that you are supposed to try to represent and hear the voices of all of the people that you serve.”
Baker and Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, another moderate Republican who will be replaced by a Democrat after two terms in a blue state.
In Massachusetts, Democratic attorney general Maura Healey will replace Baker. In Maryland, Democrat Wes Moore, an author and military veteran, is set to replace Hogan. Each found their Republican opponents.
Hogan, who has hinted at a 2024 bid for the GOP presidential nomination, blamed Trump for the party’s losses in this year’s midterms.
“It’s basically the third election in a row that Donald Trump has cost us the race, and it’s like, three strikes, you’re out,” Hogan said during an appearance on “State of the Union” with CNN’s Dana Bash.
Baker said Republicans need to learn as a result of the midterms that voters aren’t interested in extreme candidates – an implicit suggestion that Trump’s endorsements proved costly.
“I think the biggest issue that played out in the midterms is something that I’ve talked about a lot over the course of the past eight years, which is, voters generally speaking, especially in battleground states, aren’t interested in extremism. They just aren’t,” Baker said. “They want people who they believe are going to be reasonable, who are going to be collaborative and who represents sort of the fundamental tenet of democracy: that it’s supposed to be a distributed decision-making model and you’re supposed to be OK with that .”
“I think in the midterms, one of the big lessons that the Republican Party nationally needs to take away from it is voters want collaborative elected officials. They don’t want extremes,” he added.
Baker credited his upbringing, with a liberal Democratic mother and a conservative Republican father, for his view of politics. He also said his win in the 2014 governor’s race, after a loss four years earlier, was driven in part by time Baker had spent in largely Black areas with few Republicans.
“There’s nothing quite like talking to people who bring a real world, real life experience to a conversation now when people yell at each other, right – they’re just yelling past each other,” Baker said. “Nobody’s hearing anything either side is saying, all right, you gotta be willing to go listen and stop walking in there with a point of view or an attitude that you already know the answer to the questions.”