Governor Charlie Baker, who had foresworn involvement in national politics since launching his candidacy for governor in 2013, will on Friday endorse Chris Christie’s long-shot bid in the Republican presidential primary, according to two people briefed on his decision.
While Christie remains far behind in polls both nationally and in New Hampshire, Baker is personally fond of the New Jersey governor and wants to stem the rise of more conservative candidates, an adviser said late Thursday.
“The governor felt compelled to show his support after growing concerned about the direction of the primary following the results of the Iowa caucus and believes that Governor Christie has the management experience and governing capability to work across the aisle,” the adviser said.
Baker will appear with Christie at a rally Saturday morning in New Hampshire and then return to Massachusetts, the adviser said. Baker is also willing to make television appearances for Christie to explain his support, the adviser added.
But the nod may prove too little and too late for Christie, who after a brief surge has been sagging in the polls. A CNN/WMUR poll of likely voters in the New Hampshire Republican primary released Thursday showed him dropping to 4 percent.
In 2014, when Baker was locked in a tight gubernatorial race with then-Attorney General Martha Coakley, Christie helped steer political assistance his way. The Republican Governors Association, which Christie chaired at the time, invested more than $11 million in Massachusetts, part of a $130 million outlay that year, according to the group’s records.
Christie attended Baker’s inauguration ceremony in January 2015, adding the star wattage of a future presidential candidate to the governor’s first day in office.
Baker called Christie within the last few days to inform him that he would declare his support, the adviser said.
A Morning Consult survey of all 50 states found that no governor’s constituents viewed him or her favorably than did Baker’s, allowing Christie to trumpet support from America’s most popular governor.
The move could burnish Baker’s profile back home as a moderate Republican resistant to his party’s far right. Others in the state’s GOP establishment have scattered among several candidates. Former governor Mitt Romney, the party’s 2012 presidential nominee, has not endorsed any candidate.
While Baker associates had long buzzed that Christie was the candidate most likely to receive his support, the governor had been publicly noncommittal about the race.
Both governors were in attendance Thursday night for the Bruce Springsteen concert at the TD Garden, though the two did not plan to cross paths, the Baker adviser said.Jim O’Sullivan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @JOSreports.