“The governor cannot support Donald Trump for president and is focused on seeing Massachusetts through the pandemic,” Guyton wrote in an email. “He’ll leave the election analysis to the pundits.”
At a news conference earlier Wednesday, the governor said he would “take a pass” when asked who he was supporting for president. Baker’s office later clarified to say he was taking a pass on the question, not on voting in this year’s election, according to WCVB.
In March, Baker declined to tell the State House News Service whom he had voted for in the state’s Republican primary, but he said he didn’t vote for Trump. The governor had previously said he didn’t vote for Trump in 2016.
Baker has publicly sparred with Trump in the past. He slammed the President’s “bitterness, combativeness and self-interest” in the wake of nationwide protests following the police killing of George Floyd.
“I heard what the President said today about dominating and fighting. I know I should be surprised when I hear incendiary words like this from him, but I’m not,” Baker told reporters in June. “At so many times during these past several weeks when the country needed compassion and leadership the most, it was simply nowhere to be found.”
In September, Baker urged Trump and the Senate “to allow the American people to cast their ballots for president before a new justice is nominated or confirmed” following the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Days later, he slammed the notion of staying in office after losing an election after Trump would not commit to facilitating a peaceful transition of power.
“(The) peaceful transfer of power is what the people of this country rely on when they go to vote,” he said. “It is appalling and outrageous that anyone would suggest for a minute that if they lose an election they’re not going to leave. Period.”
Baker isn’t the only Republican to stop short of endorsing the President.
“I won’t be voting for President Trump,” Republican Gov. Phil Scott of Vermont said in August. “I have not decided, at this point, whether to cast a vote for former Vice President Biden, but it’s something that I would consider.”
Fellow Republican governor and frequent Trump critic Larry Hogan of Maryland didn’t commit to voting for Trump when asked by radio host Hugh Hewitt in July, saying that he would decide who to vote for by Election Day. Former President George W. Bush won’t back Trump’s reelection, The New York Times reported in June, citing people familiar with his thinking.
And multiple Republicans have gone a step further and endorsed Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden. Former Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who served for eight years as Ohio’s chief executive and was a candidate for the GOP presidential nomination in 2016, was among the Republicans featured at the Democratic convention.
Baker enjoys broad bipartisan support. An August poll of likely Democratic primary voters in Massachusetts conducted by the University of Massachusetts-Lowell found that 89% of likely Democratic primary voters approve of the job Baker is doing — including 54% who strongly approve.
This story has been updated with additional background information.