Baker expected to back Christie, other Mass. pols make endorsements

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BOSTON – With the results of this week’s Iowa caucuses further whittling down the list of Republican presidential contenders, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker appears to be throwing his support behind fellow governor Chris Christie, according to CNN.

The Republican from Swampscott had been noticeably silent on the matter of endorsing anyone in the race during public appearances. Asked in late December if he would back a candidate, Baker told the Springfield Republican newspaper’s MassLive website that he prefers to keep his focus on running state government.

But Baker has apparently changed his mind.

The political ties between Baker and Christie run deep after the New Jersey governor, who has also had to deal with a legislature controlled by Democrats, came to Massachusetts in 2010 to campaign for Baker in his unsuccessful race against incumbent governor Deval Patrick. Four years later, a Christie-led Republican Governors Association funneled more than $11 million into Baker’s tight gubernatorial contest against then-Attorney General Martha Coakley. Baker and former Gov. Mitt Romney in 2014 headlined an RGA fundraiser in Boston for Christie.

Here’s who other Massachusetts republicans are endorsing:

Jeb Bush

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has managed to snag several high-profile endorsements from former elected officials, although none of the state’s active crop of lawmakers has thrown his or her support to the son and brother of former presidents.

The list of Bush supporters includes former Massachusetts Republican governors Jane Swift and Bill Weld, along with former Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey and Massachusetts’ National Republican Committeeman Ron Kaufman. Kaufman in his endorsement statement described Bush as a “true conservative leader with a long-term vision for this country and the skills to implement it.”

Ted Cruz

Ted Cruz has picked up support from one of the most conservative lawmakers in the state, Rep. Jim Lyons of Andover. Lyons, who Cruz named in October as his Massachusetts campaign chairman, hosted Cruz at his home last May, drawing 600 supporters of the first-term Texas senator.

“I think Ted is exactly what this country needs at this time,” Lyons said in October on Facebook. “He’s someone who’s willing to take on the establishment and the status quo in Washington.”

One of Cruz’s GOP Senate colleagues, Kentucky’s Rand Paul, backed out of the presidential nomination race following Iowa’s results. Paul’s departure left a void for Massachusetts National Republican Committeewoman Chanel Prunier, who earlier this year endorsed him. On Thursday Prunier said Cruz is now her candidate.

Graphic by the NewBostonPost

Graphic by the NewBostonPost

“It’s clear that conservatives are coalescing around Sen. Ted Cruz after his big win in Iowa, and moving forward I’m going to be encouraging supporters of Rand, as well as other presidential candidates, to unify in support of Cruz,” Prunier said by email. She cited his track record of being unafraid to “speak out about his faith and to fight for what’s right” as one of the Texan’s greatest strengths.

Carly Fiorina

Carly Fiorina, the only woman in the GOP hunt has netted the support of Republican state Reps. Kate Campanale of Leicester, Sheila Harrington of Groton, Kevin Kuros of Uxbridge and Shauna O’Connell of Taunton. The lawmakers officially announced their endorsements for the former Hewlett Packard chief executive from California in October.

Kuros said he was “excited that so many Massachusetts state leaders” elected to support Fiorina, in a prepared statement at the time. O’Connell said part of what drove her to back the Californian was that she had managed to “work her way up” to become the first woman to lead a Fortune 20 company. Harrington noted that she has “never been this excited about a candidate on the national stage” than she is about Fiorina.

John Kasich

Ohio Gov. John Kasich has a big supporter in the Republican leader in the Massachusetts Senate, Bruce Tarr of Gloucester. Tarr, who endorsed Kasich last month, said in a statement that he admires the former congressman’s demonstrated ability to “spur a robust economy” in Ohio.

“Now more than ever, voters in New England and across the country need a leader with the temperament and executive experience to make America strong again,” Tarr said. He also pointed to Kasich’s record of reaching a deal to balance the federal budget and strengthening the military as a member of Congress.

Kasich also netted endorsements from Republican state Reps. Paul Frost of Auburn, Kimberly Ferguson of Holden, Peter Durant of Spencer and F. Jay Barrows of Mansfield in September, along with former Bay State congressman Peter Torkildsen.

The former congressman from the North Shore recalled serving alongside Kasich while both were in the Capitol and noted that Kasich’s “leadership and resolve were the key factors in balancing the federal budget.”

Frost said he admired Kasich’s experience while Ferguson remarked that Kasich has a track record of leading “on issues impacting children, the elderly and those with developmental disabilities.”

Marco Rubio

Some made their choices long ago. Marco Rubio became the first to attract a GOP backer from Beacon Hill even before he jumped in the race.

State Sen. Ryan Fattman, a Sutton Republican, set himself up in Rubio’s corner ahead of the senator from Florida officially jumped in last April. Fattman has been a frequent foot soldier for the Cuban-American, spending significant amounts of time knocking on doors in New Hampshire.

Fattman has helped promote the Twitter hashtag #MarcosMinutemen, a nod to the candidate’s Bay State volunteers. Like Rubio, who is 44 years old, Fattman at 31 is also one of the youngest members in his legislative chamber.

“I thought of that hashtag as a way to rally people,” Fattman said by phone recently. “One of the things I’m able to do by the nature of being in politics is recruit other volunteers.”

Fattman spoke as he was driving back from another round of New Hampshire canvassing. Fattman said he reached out to the Rubio campaign even before the senator announced his plans to run.

“My wife and I got to know him when he did some campaigning in 2012 for Scott Brown,” Fattman said, recalling the former Massachusetts senator’s failed bid for a full six-year term.

Fattman says he quickly formed a bond with Rubio. In 2012, Fattman was in his 20s and approaching the end of his first term as a state representative. Fattman said he could identify with Rubio, who was just 29 when he was first elected to the Florida House of Representatives in Tallahassee.

“He spent a lot of time getting to know me and my wife,” Fattman said. “He connected with both of us and I remember telling my wife after the first night we met him, ‘If he runs for president one day, I want to help out.’”

Rubio is the candidate who can best identify with younger voters and is the GOP contender best suited for the 21st century, Fattman says.

“He’s looking at the world from a new perspective and this is where Republicans need to focus, on a new American century, on the future,” the state senator added. “If you think about what’s happening in the country, and how it’s changing, he cares.”

Out of just six GOP state senators in Massachusetts, Rubio has been endorsed by three, including Richard Ross of Wrentham and Vinny deMacedo of Plymouth. The three are all on Rubio’s Bay State leadership team.

The other members of that team include state representatives Keiko Orrall of Lakeville and Shawn Dooley of Norfolk, along with Bob Maginn, a former Massachusetts Republican Party chairman.

As for the rest of the field, most of the remaining candidates have Bay State GOP backers. But some don’t.

Donald Trump

An interesting sidelight to the inner workings of political endorsements is that New York billionaire Donald Trump hasn’t landed the backing of any current Bay State lawmakers, even though he’s leading in polls of likely voters in New Hampshire. But Scott Brown, now a Granite State resident, threw his support to the former reality television star earlier this week.

Retired neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson is still without an endorsement from a Massachusetts lawmaker.

This article has been updated to reflect Charlie Baker’s expected endorsement of Chris Christie.