Bay State Swing

Blue Massachusetts Goes Red, Picks Charlie Baker for Governor

Martha Coakley was much improved after her disastrous 2010 loss to Scott Brown, but that—and the first joint Elizabeth Warren-Hillary Clinton appearance—wasn’t enough for victory.

Boston Globe/Getty

Somewhere, Mitt Romney is smiling.

The voters of Massachusetts, one of the most notoriously liberal states in the union, have once again chosen to send to a Republican to the state house.

Charlie Baker, a businessman who ran for governor and lost in the last Republican wave year of 2010, has narrowly squeaked out a victory over Attorney General Martha Coakley, according to the Associated Press.

The win is proof that voters in the Bay State like the idea of a Republican in the governor’s mansion to provide a curb over a liberal legislature.

And it is also proof that Coakley is perhaps one of the worst candidates in recent memory.

In 2010, she stunned national observers by losing a U.S. Senate special election to replace Ted Kennedy to Scott Brown, refuting political analysts who said liberal Massachusetts may toy with GOP governors but would never send a Republican to represent it in Washington.

This time around, Coakley pledged that she had learned her lessons, and she ran a campaign that was largely free of the gaffes and missteps that plagued her previous run.

But she also faced a different kind of candidate in Baker, who favored abortion and gay rights—he prominently featured his gay brother in the campaign—and who pledged to get the Massachusetts economy back on track.

The race attracted the support of all the stars of the Democratic galaxy, including Michelle Obama and Bill Clinton, and in its closing days it also brought potential 2016 rivals for the presidency Elizabeth Warren and Hillary Clinton on stage together for the first time at a rally for Coakley.

But it was not enough, especially after the left-leaning Boston Globe endorsed Baker.

The winner replaces Deval Patrick, the state’s first African-American governor, who is unable to run again due to term limits.