Campaign finance accounts offer clues of 2022 political landscape as Charlie Baker still lags in fundraising

Gov. Charlie Baker lags far behind likely contenders in the upcoming 2022 race for the Corner Office, campaign finance records show.

Baker’s fundraising has picked up in the past two months, but Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito continues to outraise him more than three-to-one.

The governor had $589,541 cash on hand at the close of the last reporting period on Jan. 31 and raised just over $41,000 in the first month of 2021. By contrast, Polito has $1.94 million in her coffers and recently raised $50,000.

The popular Republican governor has so far resisted questions about a potential third term, but speculation over what clues fundraising could lend have swirled as the 64-year-old incumbent’s efforts have been slow.

Potential Democratic challenger Attorney General Maura Healey’s campaign balance casts an even larger shadow over Baker’s with $2.94 million in cash on hand, state data show.

Another rumored GOP contender for governor is former state Rep. Geoff Diehl, who also appears to be positioning for a run.

The Whitman Republican and one-time challenger to U.S. Sen Elizabeth Warren closed out his campaign account 2019 following his defeat but last week stepped down as finance committee chair at the state Republican Party. Diehl said the move was in favor of a recruitment role to help bolster the party’s potential candidates, but he didn’t rule out a candidacy of his own.

“Let’s just say that right now there’s a lot of organizing that has to be done for a lot of campaigns and I’ll take a look at the governor’s race, of course,” Diehl told the Herald, saying he’d make a decision “in the next few months.”

Monday brought news of a widening Democratic field after former state Sen. Ben Downing officially declared his candidacy for governor.

The former Pittsfield Democrat is starting his fundraising efforts from scratch after he closed his campaign finance account in 2017 when he departed Beacon Hill, according to state records.

He joins two other Democrats who are exploring bids: Harvard University political science professor Danielle Allen — who had $151,755 in her campaign coffers as of the last filing deadline on Jan. 31 — and Scott Khourie of Quincy, whose balance sheet listed a meager $20.

Republican U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling in an interview with the Herald last month hinted he could run for office, but declined to say what office he might pursue.

Libertarian Carlos Perez of West Springfield filed candidacy paperwork with the Office of Campaign Finance in December but has yet to file any financial paperwork.

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