Vermont’s governor signals support for two Massachusetts governors — one running, one not — in 2020

"Charlie Baker — maybe he'll run."

Republican Vermont Gov. Phil Scott smiles as he walks with ballot in hand to vote in Berlin, Vt., Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018. Gov. Scott is facing Democratic gubernatorial challenger Christine Hallquist. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Vermont Gov. Phil Scott smiles as he walks to vote in 2018. –Charles Krupa / AP

Gov. Charlie Baker has called himself a “Bill Weld Republican,” but it’s another New England governor who is expressing support for Weld’s campaign against President Donald Trump — and hoping that maybe his protege will hop in the race, too.

“Oh sure, yeah,” Vermont Gov. Phil Scott, a Republican, told reporters Thursday when asked if he would vote for Weld, the Massachusetts governor from 1991 to 1996, over Trump.

According to Politico, Scott recently met with Weld for coffee in White River Junction, Vermont, which is just over the border from New Hampshire where Weld has focused his primary challenge against the incumbent Republican president.

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“I thought he was interesting, very articulate, very forthright,” Scott said during last week’s press conference. “Didn’t agree with everything that he said, but there were a lot of things I agreed with him on. He’s an interesting guy.”

Scott, who, like Weld, has been a consistent critic of Trump, said he wasn’t ready to officially back any 2020 candidates yet, noting that he’s “heard some other names floating around.” He then mentioned two fellow popular blue-state Republican governors: Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, who is considering a primary run against Trump, and Baker.

“I like Larry Hogan,” he said. “There’s a few. Charlie Baker — maybe he’ll run.”

Baker has said he has “zero interest” in running for president. And so far, he’s declined to support his former boss and mentor’s campaign, even though he’s also said he doesn’t expect to vote for Trump in 2020, either.

“Look, I worked for Bill Weld for six years,” Baker told reporters in February. “And he’s a mentor of mine, and I admire the heck out of the work he did here as governor. But I think it’s awfully early to be talking about the presidential election, which is a very long time from now. I plan to focus on my day job.”

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As a candidate in 2014, the Baker said he was “pretty much cut from [Weld’s] cloth, which I would describe as fiscally conservative and socially moderate.”

Now, in his second term, that mold has proved to be fairly popular, even in a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans three-to-one. Last month, a Morning Consult poll found Baker was the most popular governor in the country. Hogan was second, and Scott was fifth.

Unlike many fellow elected Republican officials, Baker, Hogan, and Scott — and Weld — have vocally opposed efforts on the Trump administration’s domestic agenda, such as curtailing LGBT and reproductive rights, repealing the Affordable Care Act, and restricting immigration. They’ve also all called for more urgent action to address climate change.

Scott also drew a distinction in the way he and his fellow moderates approached discourse amid the nationally polarized political stage.

“If we’re going to change the dynamics across the nation, we all have to act appropriately in our own backyards,” he said Thursday. “And I think that’s why I’m taking this seriously. I believe in civility and I believe in respect, and I’m trying to show that we can do this in a different way.”

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