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Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito Discusses Personal Approach to Politics in Massachusetts

Massachusetts Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito has been in public office ever since she was a selectwoman in Shrewsbury in the mid-1990s.

She has a lower profile than Gov. Charlie Baker, but among municipal leaders, she is well-known. And she knows how to road trip.

"I've been to all 351 cities and towns, some several times," Polito said.

Polito says it happened organically – part of her role as lieutenant governor. The day begins with an economic development event in New Bedford and a stop in Hingham related to harbor dredging, followed by a meeting in Quincy with young people focused on healthy relationships.

The connection to municipalities pays off, particularly in times of crisis, like the September gas explosions in Merrimack valley.

"We were quite familiar with one another. There was already a level of trust," she said.

Considered a conservative Republican during her decade as a state representative from her hometown of Shrewsbury, Polito, 52, has moderated in recent years -- aligning herself more closely with Baker.

With 70-plus percent approval ratings, polls have ranked Baker the most popular governor in the country for decades. And it happened in one of the nation's bluest states.

"I really believe it's that focus on the work," Polito said. "I like stiff-arming the politics and the noise that can distract you from that, and then being very collaborative."

There have been reports that Baker is considering running for a third term.

"We have discussed that," Polito said. "But it's more, we just got into our second term."

As for her own political aspirations, Polito, a mother of two teenagers, seems to have something in mind. She's out-fundraised the governor this year, bringing in more than $1 million.

Is she considering a run for higher office like governor?

"We are open to seeing what happens beyond that," Polito said when asked of her own aspirations. "But there is no 'beyond' unless you do a really good job at what you have at hand."

The ability to stay on message, while frustrating to reporters, is a hallmark of the administration. There is little drama -- critics say little boldness -- but that disciplined nose-to-the-grindstone playbook has been working so far.

"People say, you know, 'I'm not a Republican or a Democrat, but I really appreciate how you do your business,'"

That less-than-political approach stands in contrast to the administration of President Donald Trump. Polito, like Baker, does not support Trump. She recently said his tweets calling for four congresswomen of color to go back where they came from are racist.

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