Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker won't seek reelection

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) on Wednesday said he won't seek reelection in 2022, ending an eight-year political career that defied the odds in one of America’s bluest states.

Baker made the announcement in a letter co-signed with Lt. Governor Karyn Polito, who also won't seek another term. 

"This was an extremely difficult decision for us," the pair said in the letter, a copy of which was published by The Boston Herald. "We love the work, and we especially respect and admire the people of this wonderful Commonwealth. Serving as Governor and Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts has been the most challenging  and fulfilling jobs we’ve ever had. We will forever be grateful to the people of this state  for giving us this great honor."

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The Boston Globe first reported Wednesday morning that Baker was calling allies to inform them of his decision.

Baker, 65, first ran for governor in 2010, when he lost to incumbent Deval PatrickDeval PatrickMassachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker won't seek reelection Deval Patrick launches initiative to spur grassroots organizing growth OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Supreme Court sides with oil companies in Baltimore case| White House environmental justice advisers express opposition to nuclear, carbon capture projects | Biden administration to develop performance standards for federal buildings MORE (D) by a narrow margin in a good year for Republicans. Four years later, he edged out then-Attorney General Martha Coakley (D) by about 40,000 votes out of more than 2 million cast. He skated to reelection in 2018, winning by a 2-to-1 margin after top Democratic challengers declined to enter the race.

In his two terms in office, Baker has fashioned himself in the mold of the corporate chief executive he once was. He rarely courted controversy and rarely injected himself into national politics in a state where his party label puts him in a deep minority.

He was among the most aggressive Republican governors to tackle the coronavirus pandemic, ordering lockdowns and public health measures that some of his Southern and Western colleagues resisted. His handling of the pandemic has earned him scorn from conservatives in his home state, but praise from Democrats — including President BidenJoe BidenPredictions of disaster for Democrats aren't guarantees of midterm failure A review of President Biden's first year on border policy  Vilsack accuses China of breaking commitments in Trump-era trade deal MORE, who complimented Baker at an event in May.

Polls showed he was well-positioned to become the first governor in Massachusetts history to try for a third term in 2022. A recent UMass Amherst survey showed 56 percent of Massachusetts voters approved of the job he has done as governor. Two-thirds said he was doing somewhat or very well handling the pandemic.

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But he may have had more trouble winning another Republican primary than he would have winning a general election: Baker in recent years has become one of the most outspoken opponents of former President TrumpDonald TrumpPredictions of disaster for Democrats aren't guarantees of midterm failure A review of President Biden's first year on border policy  Hannity after Jan. 6 texted McEnany 'no more stolen election talk' in five-point plan for Trump MORE’s crass style. He supported the first impeachment inquiry into Trump in 2019, and he called on Trump to be removed from office after the Jan. 6 insurrection.

Trump earlier this year endorsed Geoff Diehl (R), a former state representative who challenged Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenDemocrats calls on Biden administration to ease entry to US for at-risk Afghans Biden stiff arms progressives on the Postal Service Trump by the numbers: 2024 isn't simple MORE (D) in 2018. Warren beat Diehl by a 60 percent to 36 percent margin.

Baker’s exit will likely mean Republicans scramble for an alternative candidate. A top aide to Polito (R) told the Boston Globe she would not run for governor, either. Attorney General Maura Healey and state Treasurer Deb Goldberg are likely to consider running for the Democratic nomination.

Either Healey or Goldberg would give Democrats an opportunity to win back a solidly liberal state that nonetheless has a long history of electing Republican governors to counter the Democratic majority on Beacon Hill. In the 31 years since Bill WeldWilliam (Bill) WeldMassachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker won't seek reelection Youngkin should blaze a post-Trump trail for the GOP The Memo: What now for anti-Trump Republicans? MORE won the governor’s office in 1990, Democrats have controlled the governorship for only eight years.

Healey or Goldberg would also notch another first: Any of them would become the first woman to win election to the governorship, and the second woman to serve in the office, after Gov. Jane Swift (R) ascended to the top job when her predecessor left to accept an ambassadorship during the George W. Bush administration.

Updated: 10:54 a.m.