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US Senate race weighs on Baker’s team

Governor Charlie Baker.

Keith Bedford/Globe Staff

Governor Charlie Baker.

Probably the biggest debate in the inner circles of Governor Charlie Baker’s political crew — besides what to do if Attorney General Maura Healey runs against him — is this: figuring out what sort of US Senate ticket-mate would be best for the Republican governor’s re-election campaign next year.

Some analysts are convinced the best scenario for Baker would be a bland, middle-of-the-road Senate nominee, whose challenge to incumbent Democrat Elizabeth Warren would be low-key, boring, and no threat to the her re-election.

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With no threat, the theory goes, Democrats won’t be surging to the polls to make sure Warren is re-elected — an election-day dynamic that would create serious problems for Baker in a close race.

But some political insiders are arguing the opposite. A serious, well-funded Republican challenge to Warren — a clean-cut, wealthy, businessperson ready to self-finance a multi-million-dollar Senate campaign — is just what Baker needs. That candidate would dominate the election coverage and the television ads, smothering any chance of a Democratic gubernatorial nominee gaining any traction.

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That alt-theory seems to have some traction. GOP insiders say the party is trying to persuade some very wealthy business types who are willing to spend serious money to make a run at Warren.

The US Senate race is not the only factor complicating Baker’s expected re-election bid. There is also a huge wave of Democratic activists who are overwhelming the normally sleepy Democratic caucuses being held across the state.

The party’s city and town committees — meeting to chose delegates to the party’s June convention — are drawing record crowds of Democrats who are stirred up over Donald Trump’s presidency and wanting to strike back.

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“People who were passionate during the election have reached a tipping point with the shock of the Trump win and feel they need to get off the sidelines and get involved,’’ said Democratic state committeeman Jason Palitsch, who represents a conservative-leaning Worcester County Senate district. “They are compelled to get out there and knock on doors, make donations, make phone calls, organize their neighborhood.”

The danger for Baker is becoming collateral damage.

Frank Phillips can be reached at frank.phillips@globe.com.
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