Mayor Daniel Rivera of Lawrence is crossing party lines to back Governor Charlie Baker in his reelection bid, delivering the Republican an early endorsement and a chance to further dull Democrats’ knives against him this fall.
Rivera, who backed Baker’s Democratic opponent four years ago, described his decision to formally support Baker as a mix of results and politics, noting that he has built a relationship with the governor by working on similar issues, including the opioid crisis that has hit hard in the 80,000-resident Merrimack Valley city.
The Democrat lauded Baker for defending the city against criticism from Governor Chris Sununu of New Hampshire and Governor Paul LePage of Maine, two Republicans who laid blame on Lawrence for the flow of drugs into their states. And he said it was Baker, along with some Democrats, who stood by him during his own reelection fight last year when “others were hiding, for lack of a better term.”
“I like that he’s no drama,” Rivera said Friday. “And even though the governor is a Republican and I’m a Democrat, building trust with the electorate is incredibly important to be effective. I think the governor does that.”
The endorsement gives Baker ammunition to promote his bipartisan strength as he tries to appeal to a cross-section of Democrats, Republicans, and unenrolled voters this fall.
Baker said in a statement that he has sought to “build strong bipartisan working relationships” in the state and was honored to win Rivera’s backing, which the mayor first announced Thursday night at a dinner that both men attended at the Andover Country Club.
“I look forward to continuing our important work in Lawrence under the leadership of Mayor Dan Rivera,” Baker said in a statement.
Three Democrats are vying to face Baker in the general election: Jay Gonzalez, the former state budget chief in the Patrick administration; Setti Warren, the former mayor of Newton; and Bob Massie, an environmentalist and entrepreneur.
Rivera offered kind words for the contenders, particularly Warren, a fellow veteran he called a “smart and capable guy.”
Gus Bickford, the chair of the state Democratic party, downplayed the effect of the endorsement, saying it speaks more about Baker’s capitalizing on the perks of incumbency.
“If someone has his cellphone and he answers his cellphone, that’s what happens,” Bickford said. “He gets to pick and choose. It’s frustrating. More people need to look at him as an, quote-unquote, administrator.”
“It doesn’t really reflect much on the accomplishments of the governor,” Bickford said. “It just says he [Rivera] has a good relationship with the governor.”Matt Stout can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.