1-on-1 With Gov. Charlie Baker Before Election Day - NECN
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1-on-1 With Gov. Charlie Baker Before Election Day

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    1-on-1 With Gov. Charlie Baker

    Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker leads Democrat Jay Gonzalez in the gubernatorial polls.

    (Published Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2018)

    At the L Street Tavern in South Boston, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker enjoyed a rare moment of relaxation in between campaign stops, meeting voters over a Guinness.

    After four years in office, Baker is hoping for a second term. He has reason to be optimistic. Polls show him with lead of nearly 40 points over his Democratic challenger, Jay Gonzalez, and he is known nationally as the most popular governor in America thanks, to a a longstanding 70 percent approval rating.

    "You do know what my wife, Lauren, said when I came home and told her that I had a 70 percent favorability rating and most popular, and how great that is? She just sort of looked up and said, 'Well, you know, honey, 70 in our house is a C,'" he recalled.

    Most voters know the basics about Baker. He grew up in Needham, in a stable, happy home with a Republican father and a Democratic mother. He went to Harvard University, met his wife while getting an MBA at Northwestern University, and was a top aide to former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld. He lives in a big home in the heart of Swampscott, where the couple raised their three children, all now adults.

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    Baker lost his first bid for governor in a hard-fought battle against Gov. Deval Patrick in 2010. Four years later, another bruising campaign ended in a narrow win over Martha Coakley. Comparatively, this race has been sleepy.

    Why does he think it's been so quiet?

    "I don't know the answer to that, but if I were to speculate, I would say that most of the people I talk to when I'm out, they feel pretty good about how things are going in Massachusetts," Baker said.

    Baker prides himself on progress he's made -- on the opioid epidemic, closing a billion-dollar budget deficit without raising taxes and helping the homeless.

    Ask Baker what he likes most about being governor and his answer comes quickly.

    "First of all, the people, because they see me on TV, they feel very familiar with me and almost intimate and they tell me things I don't think they would tell strangers," Baker said. "I think the second thing is, when somebody says to me, 'You saved my daughter's life. You made it possible for me to talk about my kids addiction.'"

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    Baker, a vocal critic of President Donald Trump, sees his bipartisanship as a key to his success.

    "I try not to get too far ahead of myself on this stuff," Baker said when asked if he thinks he might want a third term. "I'm really focused on Nov. 6. It's all going to depend, to some extent, on the conversations my wife and I have about this stuff."

    Baker denies any interest in going to Washington.

    "I've always thought of myself as a Massachusetts person," he said. "The things that always excite me are things that are much closer to home. I would have a hard time with the distance, both geographically and sort of day-to-day, from the people ... if I was in federal office."

    For now, Baker insists he is focused solely on next Tuesday -- though looking forward to having some post-election down time.

    He reads books to relax. He just finished the "Factory Man." He also enjoys going to the movies, though he says that has gotten more complicated.

    "I can't just sort of walk in and out of a movie theater without, 'Governor, I've got an idea.' Which I'm perfectly happy to hear," he said.

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