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‘I’m focused on the job I’ve got:’ Baker declines to say whether he’ll seek a third term

Governor opposes rent control, state-funded MBTA fares

Governor Charlie Baker.Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff

Will Governor Charlie Baker seek a third term? There’s no clear answer from the Massachusetts governor — at least not yet.

The question came up during an appearance on WCVB’s “On The Record” Sunday morning, when hosts Ed Harding and Janet Wu pressed the Republican incumbent on his future. Baker’s current term expires in January 2023, and numerous candidates have already declared their intention to run, including Republican former state representative Geoff Diehl and Democrats Sonia Chang-Díaz, a state senator; Benjamin Downing, a former state senator; and, Danielle Allen, a Harvard political science professor.

But if he has plans for next year’s election, Baker did not reveal them.

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“Well, as I’ve said before,” Baker said, over an “oh, no” interjection from Wu, “I’m focused on the job I’ve got, and that’s been where I’ve been spending my time.”

If he did run again, Baker said he would do so as a Republican, despite rifts between himself and the Massachusetts GOP’s leadership.

“I’m a Bill Weld Republican here in Massachusetts, that’s what I’ve always been, so I’ve been and I’ve been very comfortable wearing that suit for the better part of the past 40 years,” Baker said.

He called the governorship “the greatest honor, and the greatest opportunity, and the hardest, and in many ways best job I’ve ever had.”

In a wide-ranging conversation, Baker also said he expects to have a bill from the state legislature addressing how to allocate the $5 billion Massachusetts received in the the American Rescue Plan Act.

“It’s a big sum of money,” Baker said. He said he appreciated the legislature’s work, but noted his office filed a proposal for allocating about half of the funds in May. “Honestly, some of this stuff I wish we had started spending... on job training and skill building and credentialing, because we have a lot of people whose jobs probably went away as a result of the pandemic and we would like to help them find the next job.”

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Asked about his positions on proposals by incoming Boston Mayor Michelle Wu that would require state input — re-instituting rent control in Boston and eliminating passenger fares on the MBTA — Baker reiterated an opposition to both.

“But I’m not going to write off the notion that there might be some way to do something about the high cost of housing here in the Commonwealth,” Baker said, when asked about rent control. “My big worry about price controls is price controls usually mean shortages. And I want to go hard into the place I think is our biggest problem on housing, which is we don’t have enough.”

Baker said he did not believe a fare-free MBTA should be state-funded.

“Somebody’s gonna have to come up with a lot of money from somebody,” Baker said. “And I do think that the city of Boston is willing to pay to give a free T to the residents of the city of Boston. That’s certainly worth the conversation, I suppose.”


Gal Tziperman Lotan can be reached at gal.lotan@globe.com or at 617-929-2043.