There are now signs that Governor Charlie Baker may seek a third term as governor. Baker just began his second term at the start of the year. Now, the Boston Globe is reporting that Baker may be looking to stick around.
WGBH Radio’s Adam Reilly spoke with WGBH All Things Considered anchor Barbara Howard about the possibility of Baker seeking a third term. This transcript has been edited for clarity.

Howard: Does this possibility of Baker seeking a third term come as a surprise to you?

Reilly: It's not a huge surprise. The governor made some comments to the effect that he wasn't ruling out a third term right after winning re-election. He also floated this possibility in an interview with Jon Keller of WBZ just last month. What's new about the report from the Globe's Frank Phillips is that he mentioned some concrete evidence that Baker is heading in this direction: staffing decisions he's made, keeping on board people who've helped him win two terms so far. Also, a poll that he did in February. So it sort of establishes that this is not a purely hypothetical situation, this is something that might actually happen.

Howard: So one term as governor is how many years?

Reilly: One term is four years.

Howard: So three terms would, of course, be twelve. Has anyone ever done three terms?

Reilly: There have been people who've served three terms. Michael Dukakis served three, but they were not consecutive. He was bounced out of office by Ed King, a conservative Democrat, and then came back and served two terms before running for president. Leverett Saltonstall, this sort of high Boston Brahmin type figure, served three consecutive terms at the very end of the 1930s and early 1940s. But those were two year terms as opposed to four year terms. So in 80 years or so, it has not happened. So it's a very rare thing. Deval Patrick, by the way, said after he left office that he had thought about seeking a third term, but chose not to.

Howard: If Governor Baker does seek a third term, what's the effect on the political landscape?

Reilly: That is a fascinating question. There are a lot of people who have been thought to maybe be interested in running for governor down the road, Attorney General Maura Healey, maybe Marty Walsh, the mayor of Boston. And they've sort of sat back and waited. There was a lot of speculation that Healey might get in and challenge Baker last time. I think it's clear she would have been his strongest challenger, but she didn't. So then the question becomes, if Baker seeks a third term, what does someone like Maura Healey do? Does she decide to take him on? Does she try to wait it out? Does she seek some other venue to realize her political ambitions? And the same with Marty Walsh. There's this legendarily good relationship that he has with Baker. They like to do their buddy act thing, they that took it on the road to D.C. recently. Would Marty Walsh decide to switch gears and challenge Charlie Baker? Or if he wants to be more than just mayor of Boston, would he try to accomplish that in some other way? And then there's trickle down to that trickle down. There's been talk that Boston city councilor Michelle Wu might run for mayor. It'll be easier for her to run for mayor of Boston if Marty Walsh is not seeking re-election. So it opens up a fascinating array of possibilities.

Howard: Well who among the Democrats would want to go up against Baker? He's a Republican, but he's more popular among Democrats than he is among Republicans in this very blue state.

Reilly: Which is kind of remarkable. I do think that there are some things that could be possible weaknesses for Baker if he runs. First off, there will be more time for the public to judge whether he's made good on his priorities. He's talked a lot about the need to create more affordable housing. Of course, he's talked about the need to fix the T. The longer he's in office, the more he owns any problem that he has not been able to solve in a definitive way. There's also climate change. People who are really concerned about climate change have argued that Baker is not doing enough to wean Massachusetts off the way we've gotten energy before, that we're still expanding the natural gas infrastructure here even while we're doing more with renewable energy. I think that if the effects of climate change become more manifest in the next couple of years, that might be something that more people start to hold against Baker. And then I think a big question is, what does Donald Trump do? Governor Baker has been asked repeatedly, ever since Trump ran for president, to weigh in on Trump's various excesses. He has consistently condemned the president, but he's done so in a relatively muted way. And depending on what we're in store for as Trump's presidency draws to a close, people might want more than that from Baker.

Howard: He'll have no challengers among Republicans in a primary, I would imagine.

Reilly: I don't think so. I think he will have, or may have, a challenge like the one he got from Scott Lively, the extremely socially conservative, very homophobic pastor who ran against him last time around. Scott Lively got a third of the vote at the state's Republican convention, which was kind of a remarkable rebuke among the Republican faithful of a very popular sitting governor. But it brings up this point that you alluded to earlier: Baker is, in a way, his own political brand. He's really crafted this niche as sort of the last of the New England Republicans. He's got this affinity for bipartisanship that's not necessarily where the state party or the national GOP are today.

Howard: Well concretely, when would he have to announce?

Reilly: The signals will become clear after we reach the halfway mark of his second term on whether he's really going to do this.

Howard: So about a year from now?

Reilly: That's my theory and I'm sticking with it.

Howard: All right. Thanks, Adam.

Reilly: Thanks, Barbara.

Howard: That's WGBH Radio's Adam Reilly, speaking with us about the signs that Governor Charlie Baker may seek a third term in office.