At least half of the Republican state committee candidates backed by Gov. Charlie Baker won their seats last night, according to a source familiar with early returns in the unusual battle that had pitched the popular governor against the conservative wing of his own party.
As of this morning, Baker’s endorsed candidates had won 26 of 52 head-to-head races and lost 17, with nine still considered too close to call, according to the source.
In a push to remold the Republican state committee, Baker endorsed 74 candidates in the intra-party contests that played out on Super Tuesday. Of those, 52 were in a contested fight for a spot on the 80-member committee, which, among other responsibilities, votes on the party’s platform and helps recruit and back candidates for public office.
There were two other contested races in which Baker did not endorse a pick; neither had final results this morning.
The developments followed weeks of an aggressive endorsement campaign by Baker, including yesterday when he sent out a pair of e-mails — plus another from Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito — urging supporters to hit the polls for his slate of candidates.
“I’ve heard it a lot: the new direction that we’ve brought to Beacon Hill in the last year is a breath of fresh air, and has shown voters what real Republican leadership looks like here in Massachusetts,” one of Baker’s e-mails read. “Today is a critical day for our ability to keep delivering on that change.”
The campaign — for which Baker also actively raised money from unnamed donors — rankled the party’s conservative wing, which ran its own candidates versus Baker’s picks in many of the races.
Baker also drew criticism from some conservatives for backing as many as 17 candidates who also are state employees.
A spokesman for the MassGOP didn’t immediately return a message today.