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Charles Duane "Charlie" Baker, Jr. is an American politician and businessman who is the current governor of Massachusetts. A member of previous governor's administrations in Massachusetts, Baker was the CEO of Harvard Pilgrim, a healthcare company, where he was widely acclaimed as having turned the company around. In 2010, he ran for governor against Deval Patrick and lost. He tried again in 2014. Baker ran on a campaign platform of fiscal conservatism, low taxes, smaller government, and education reform as well as being moderate to liberal on social issues. He ran against Martha Coakley and won. The victory was considered a surprise as Massachusetts is a blue state. Baker has been very popular since taking office.
Baker was born in Elmira, New York but grew up in Needham, Massachusetts. Baker has two younger brothers, and had what he describes as an "all American childhood." He played football, hockey, and baseball in his youth. Baker's father worked in the administration of President Richard Nixon in the Transportation Department.
Baker attended Harvard University where he got a degree in English. He has said he did not have a positive experience there. After Harvard, he attended Northwestern University where he achieved an MBA. After a stint at a libertarian think tank in Boston, Baker took a job as Undersecretary of Health and Human Services under Governor William Weld in 1991. He gained a reputation for innovative ideas and was promoted to Secretary of Health and Human Services the following year. He later became the Secretary of Administration and Finance. Governor Paul Cellucci offered him the position of running mate, but Baker declined. During his time in this position, Baker helped finance the Big Dig, a major infastructure project to rebuild a freeway in Boston and revitalize the city's downtown. Many have called this project largely a success.
In 1999, Baker became the CEO of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, a non profit company. Finding it in deep financial trouble, he cut the workforce, cut costs, and renegotiated contracts. The company went from losing $58 million a year to being profitable for 24 straight quarters. Under Baker's leadership the company won awards for the Best Health Plan in America for five straight years. While at Harvard Pilgrim he remained involved in politics, and served as a selectman in Swampscott, Massachusetts.
After being rumored to run for Governor in 2006, Baker announced a campaign in 2010, after retiring from Harvard Pilgrim in 2009. He was running against incumbent Democrat Deval Patrick. Baker focused on supporting job creation, government reform, and fiscal conservatism, while taking a liberal stance on several social issues. It was a relatively close race, but in the end Patrick won.
Baker remained involved with business but made a return to politics in 2014. With the retirement of Governor Patrick, Massachusetts had an open governor seat. After defeating businessman Mark Fisher in the Republican Primary, Baker campaigned on a similar theme of low taxes, job creation, government reform, social liberalism, and fiscal conservatism. This time, Baker was running against Martha Coakley, the state Attorney General. Baker won a hard-fought victory in November, in a night that saw Republican victories across the country.
After taking office, Baker has enacted policies to help small business and to reform the MBTA. He also presided over one of the largest blizzards in the history of Massachusetts. Polls show his approval rating as high as 70%.
Baker lives in Swampscott, Massachusetts, with his wife Lauren and their three children. He is a member of a congregationalist church.