Warren thinks he can sway Trump voters, beat Baker, but Cantabrigians not so sure

Race for Massachusetts governor in ’18 already drawing candidates

Setti Warren is considering a run for Massachusetts governor.

Setti Warren, who has all but formally announced his intention to run for governor by stepping down as mayor in Newton, said he’ll be making his decision very soon – perhaps this week – after he finalizes his last city budget.

There has been speculation Warren will announce Saturday.

“I wanted to get an opportunity to get around the commonwealth and really hear from people … from all different regions, cities and towns,” he said. “I have heard from people, and it is really clear that people are falling behind in the commonwealth, which is why I will be making an announcement very soon.”

With the gubernatorial election not until Nov. 6, 2018, the Cambridge Democratic City Committee has not endorsed a candidate, said Brian Corr, the committee’s chairman. “Setti Warren is one of a number of good possible candidates for the Democratic Party, and I think that from the perspective of people in Cambridge, having someone from Metro Boston is always appealing,” Corr said.  “For Cambridge in particular, we want a governor who respects the values of our community and the diversity of a city like Cambridge.”

While Corr credited Warren with a lot of municipal government experience that could be transferable to the state level, “at the same time, there are a lot of other people who look like they are jumping into the race.”

Jay Gonzalez, who served as budget chief for former Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick, declared for the race in January. Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone, Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll and Dan Wolf, a state senator from Cape Cod, have also been mentioned as possible candidates.

Eyeing the Republicans

Republican Gov. Charlie Baker is expected to run for reelection. He is considered immensely popular – he was rated the nation’s most popular governor in a Morning Consult poll released in September that gave him a 75 percent approval rating. Only 17 percent of respondents said they disapproved of his job performance.

Baker’s popularity is unlikely to be damaged by the spiraling presidency of Donald Trump, said Tufts University Politics Professor Deborah Schildkraut, because the moderate Republican “has done an excellent job of distancing himself from the president in every respect.”  The only thing that could decrease Baker’s approval ratings between now and the upcoming gubernatorial race, she says, are “the things that he might say.”

Maurice Cunningham, a lifelong Cambridge resident who teaches politics at the University of Massachusetts at Boston, said Setti’s likelihood of beating Baker is low because Baker has “protected himself well.”

“The Democrats don’t have a lot against Baker,” Cunningham said. Though, “if they tie Trump around his neck, he will drown.”

Across the aisle

Warren said he was unfazed by Baker’s popularity.

“It doesn’t affect me at all,” Warren said. “[From] talking to folks, I believe the issue of our time is economic inequality. I am hearing directly from residents the fact that they are working harder than they ever have and they cannot afford the basic costs of things like education, they cannot afford transportation and housing. And they are having real challenges with health care. These are real vital to giving people a foundation of economic opportunity.”

With those issues, Warren said, he’ll be able to reach out to Trump voters. Though in Cambridge, Trump and running mate Mike Pence won only 3,323 votes in the last presidential election, or 6.2 percent of the electorate, that was far lower than the statewide turnout for the Republican ticket – Trump won 36 percent of the vote to Hillary Clinton’s 61 percent.

“We have to push back against policies that go against our values – the Muslim ban, for example … and certainly the federalization of our police force,” Warren said. “At the same time, there are people in our communities who voted for President Trump that didn’t vote for him for those reasons. We have to reach out to those people and we have to speak directly to them to ensure that we have inclusive communities for all people.”

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