Scott Lively Topping 30 Percent in GOP Governor Primary Against Charlie Baker

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[Editor’s Note:  The vote percentages of the 2014 Republican primary have been corrected in this story. A previous version inadvertently gave the vote totals from the state convention that year, not the primary.]

Scott Lively, a conservative Protestant pastor, was polling at more than 35 percent against Governor Charlie Baker in the Republican primary early Wednesday morning, with 90 percent of the vote reported.

It’s a major surprise, because in comparable circumstances four years ago Baker beat conservative challenger Mark Fisher, 74 to 26 percent. Some observers questioned whether Lively would draw support from enough delegates at the state Republican convention in June to reach the 15 percent threshold to make the primary ballot. He did, with almost 28 percent, and then may have done better than that in the statewide primary.

Baker is still a heavy favorite to win re-election in November, over Democratic nominee Jay Gonzalez. But Republican primary voters weren’t as enthusiastic about Baker as a poll in May found residents of the state overall were — Baker garnered a 69 percent approval rating in the poll, but was taking only 64 percent in the primary (with 90 percent reporting).

Baker has been criticized by conservatives for siding with liberal Democrats on social issues and on some economic issues and for sharply criticizing President Donald Trump before and after the 2016 election. Lively aligned himself with Trump.

Baker ignored Lively in claiming victory, offering a version of his stump speech extolling his administration’s accomplishments.

A tweet from the Lively campaign late Tuesday night accentuated the positive: