Since his election five years ago, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker has famously eschewed getting involved in national politics. This election season, Baker has dipped his toe in by endorsing Maine's incumbent Republican senator, Susan Collins. Of all the important issues facing voters and the nation this cycle, some are wondering which drove Baker to endorse a candidate for national office in another state. Apparently it was crustaceans.
The lobster industry is big business in both Massachusetts and in Maine and it has been suffering in recent years. As part of the trade war President Donald Trump launched with rival China, the Asian nation imposed tariffs on the luxury seafood. When the European Union eliminated tariffs on lobsters last month, lobstermen across New England cheered the decision. Baker gave full credit for the action to Collins: “She pretty much did that one all by herself,” Baker told Boston.com. It is hoped that reducing the tariffs in Europe will help to bring back some of the jobs that were lost when the Chinese market tightened.
In a 15 second advertisement paid for by the Republican Jewish Coalition Victory Fund, Baker says Collins is "pro-environment, pro-women, and pro-Maine.” He also calls her a “terrific ally” of Massachusetts who has always been willing to take his calls and listen to his concerns. She has always “been a phone call away every time I needed to talk to somebody, who has a lot of standing and a lot of history in Washington, about how to accomplish goals and objectives for Massachusetts,” Baker said. He noted that the two politicians represent different states, but that they have always worked together for the betterment of New England as a whole.
There are those who are not thrilled with Baker's endorsement. Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healy, thought to be a potential rival for the corner office, criticized Baker's move. She said that having Collins in the Senate helped to secure a Republican majority in the upper house. “It’s not good for Maine, and it’s not good for Massachusetts,” Healey tweeted. “Charlie Baker should know that.”
Baker has indicated that he, along with his Lt. Governor Karen Polito, "likely" will not be making any more endorsements for federal office. Instead, the pair will focus their attention and political energy on Massachusetts elections. Massachusetts is among the states with the fewest competitive races for legislative seats. Of the 200 elected members of the Great and General Court of Massachusetts, only 75 of them have a major party candidate opposing them in the November elections. Of the 160 members of the House of Representatives, 145 are running for reelection.