Governor Charlie Baker, who has foresworn involvement in national politics since he launched his candidacy for governor in 2013, will on Friday endorse New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s long-shot bid in the Republican presidential primary, according to two people who have been briefed on his decision.
While Christie remains far behind in polls both nationally and in New Hampshire, where the endorsement is targeted, Baker is personally fond of Christie and wants to stem the rise of more conservative candidates, an 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.
With his backing, Baker is in a way repaying an eight-figure favor Christie did for him in 2014, when Baker was locked in a tight gubernatorial race with then-Attorney General Martha Coakley. The Republican Governors Association, which Christie chaired at the time, invested over $11 million in Massachusetts, part of a $130 million outlay that year, according to the group’s records.
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.
Still, the move could burnish Baker’s profile back home as a moderate Republican resistant to his party’s far right.
Baker’s pick of Christie also comes as something of a blow to others from the governors’ class in the field. Christie, Ohio Governor John Kasich, and former Florida governor Jeb Bush have been vying with Marco Rubio to capture establishment-minded voters.