fb-pixel Skip to main content

Governor Charlie Baker’s back on the campaign trail. You’ll never guess why.

Governor Charlie Baker pointed to campaign volunteer Pamela Valentine as he lent his support for GOP candidate for state auditor Anthony Amore (center). Amore's partner's daughter, Maxine, looked on.Barry Chin/Globe Staff

SWAMPSCOTT — On a blustery April Saturday, Governor Charlie Baker donned a gray zip-up and posted outside his local Stop & Shop to gather signatures, attracting double-takes from people running weekend errands in the blowing rain.

Baker isn’t running for reelection this year. But a statewide candidate who has vowed to preserve Baker’s tradition of moderate Republicanism and serve as a check on an increasingly liberal Beacon Hill hopes to make the ballot.

Enter state auditor hopeful Anthony Amore.

With a Donald Trump-endorsed former state lawmaker ascendant in his campaign for the GOP nomination for governor, some say Amore, head of security for the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, represents the last, best hope for Baker’s middle-of-the-road brand in 2022.

Advertisement



“I think he would be terrific in this role,” Baker said of Amore, who has played a leading role in the ongoing investigation into the museum’s 1990 art heist, considered the largest in the nation.

The auditor’s race is the first, and so far only, race Baker has weighed in on this cycle.

The two GOP gubernatorial hopefuls — Trump-backed former state representative Geoff Diehl and businessman Chris Doughty — lean against abortion rights. In television interviews, Doughty didn’t reject conversion therapy and Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law, and Diehl promoted false claims of election fraud in the 2020 presidential race, all stances that deviate from Baker’s socially liberal, fiscally moderate, Trump-allergic politics.

Baker’s moderate Republicanism, which harkens back to William F. Weld and Paul Cellucci, could be in short supply in the fall elections.

In a joint statement in December, Baker and Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito announced they would not be running for reelection, and Polito said she wouldn’t run for Baker’s seat, either.

So far, the only Republicans running statewide other than the gubernatorial candidates and their running mates are onetime write-in congressional candidate Rayla Campbell, a conservative who is running for secretary of state, and trial attorney Jay McMahon, who launched his campaign for attorney general this year by critiquing the “wokeness” of state leaders.

Advertisement



“I think Anthony is that person who can take the gauntlet right now and go forward and excite Republicans and independents who may not be choosing to get involved in the primaries for governor,” said Amore campaign chair Beth Lindstrom, who served in the Mitt Romney administration, managed Scott Brown’s successful 2010 US Senate campaign, and ran for US Senate in 2018. “Where is the best fit for us to win? It’s certainly in the auditor’s race.”

Republican candidate for state auditor Anthony Amore gathered signatures with his partner's daughter, Maxine, 8.Barry Chin/Globe Staff

Amore, 55, said he was first recruited to run statewide when he was giving a speech introducing Baker at a 2017 Christmas party hosted by Swampscott and Marblehead Republican Town Committees. Within a week, he got a call from the state party asking that he forgo the state House race he had originally entered and consider running for secretary of state.

The Winchester Republican did, and lost to William Galvin, who won more than 70 percent of the vote.

But Baker supported him then as he does now, which Amore says “makes a big difference with credibility” when he talks to voters.

In Republican circles, the auditor’s seat is thought of as tailor-made for a moderate message, as a position that requires fiscal oversight and a keen eye for locating waste, fraud, and abuse within government entities.

Advertisement



In an interview with the Globe, Baker said Amore fits the bill as both an investigator and as a member of the party.

“He has good qualifications to run for auditor. It’s basically an investigative role, they just do it with spreadsheets and documents. He knows his way around those,” Baker said. “And I have always said that I think constructive friction in politics is a good thing. When it’s just one team on the field, it’s not healthy.”

Amore has served in a variety of homeland security roles, and played a leading part in reconfiguring security at Boston’s Logan International Airport after the Sept. 11 attacks.

He announced his run last month, pitching himself as a seasoned investigator whose experience auditing and managing security programs makes him a good fit for the statewide position. And Baker’s name comes up often in phone calls, Amore said.

“When I reach out to people, they already know,” Amore said.

Baker has made an imprint on the campaign in other ways.

When the governor sent an e-mail endorsing Amore in late March, campaign donations increased, according to a spokesman. But Amore had just $794 in the bank at the end of last month, campaign finance records show.

The Amore campaign has paid Red Curve Solutions, a firm that consulted on Baker’s campaigns, and is being advised by Jim Conroy, a close Baker adviser and onetime campaign manager. Amore’s spokesman is Mark Steffen, who served in Baker’s press office.

“I think he understands that we are very much aligned in our way of thinking,” Amore said of the governor.

Advertisement



Baker has kept his distance from the controversies of the national Republican Party and has maintained popularity among Massachusetts voters as a moderate, coattails Amore hopes to ride.

Amore refers to the Jan. 6 insurrection an “abomination,” and had called for Donald Trump’s impeachment. He isn’t worried about the opinions of the more than 1 million Massachusetts voters who cast their ballots for Trump in 2020.

“I am keenly aware of them, but I am just telling the truth,” Amore said. “And you can’t win in Massachusetts with only getting Republican votes.”

Shawn Dooley, a state representative who unsuccessfully ran to unseat Trump devotee Jim Lyons as state Republican Party chair last year, said Amore is important to maintaining the moderate Republican brand in the state.

“If we only have Geoff Diehl on the ticket and he’s the flag carrier, it would be easy for Democrats to take Republicans as this extreme version, more of the caricature of Republicanism as opposed to who we really are,” the Norfolk Republican said. “Anthony carries the message that we are thoughtful and the things we want are small government and local control and fiscal responsibility.”

In the November election, Amore will run against either transportation advocate Chris Dempsey of Brookline or state Senator Diana DiZoglio of Methuen, who are competing in the Democratic primary for the seat. Amore has not drawn a Republican competitor.

Auditor Suzanne Bump, who was the first woman to hold the office when she was elected in 2010, announced last May that she would not seek a fourth term.

Advertisement



While he doesn’t face a primary opponent, Amore said his biggest challenge at the moment is getting the 5,000 signatures he needs to make the ballot and making sure people know what an auditor does and who is running.

“A down-ballot race is a name recognition race,” Amore said, as he turned to join Baker, who had just signed his own name on an Amore nomination paper.

CORRECTION: Photo captions on an earlier version of this story incorrectly described the girl in photos. She is Anothony Amore’s partner’s daughter.


Samantha J. Gross can be reached at samantha.gross@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @samanthajgross.