A Cape Cod pol with a checkered and colorful past — including recently pushing a plan to catch and kill sharks off the Cape — could give Gov. Charlie Baker a Republican primary opponent.
Barnstable County Commissioner Ronald Beaty Jr. has filed paperwork with state campaign finance officials indicating plans to mount a campaign for the Corner Office, a move that would make him the first Republican to challenge the popular Baker in 2018.
Beaty confirmed he is “exploring a run,” but said he is weighing several factors, including whether he could get the 15 percent of delegate votes at the GOP convention necessary to appear on the primary ballot.
“The people who are dissatisfied with Charlie Baker should have a choice,” Beaty said in a phone interview. “I’ve talked to a lot of people, conservative and moderate Republicans, (and) there’s a fairly large number who are disillusioned with Charlie Baker.”
The West Barnstable Republican and Trump supporter unsuccessfully sought a state Senate seat in 2014, and more recently, generated headlines with a controversial proposal to deploy baited drum lines off Cape beaches to hook and kill great white sharks.
Beaty won his seat on the country board last year.
Beaty served time in a federal prison in the early 1990s for making death threats in letters to President George H.W. Bush and U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy, among others. He candidly acknowledges his past, and said the threats stemmed from struggles with alcohol abuse and a “bad divorce.”
He said he’s since earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree from Boston College and “picked myself up.”
Beaty — who said he voted for Republican Mark Fisher in the 2014 gubernatorial primary — has taken shots at Baker on Twitter, likening him to “phony Republicans” and tweeting, with Baker’s photo, the message: “We are tired of RINOs in the MassGOP,” using short-hand for the term “Republican in name only.”
“We need to continuely (sic) support President Donald Trump to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN,” Beaty wrote in one tweet. “This is especially true in Massachusetts. I believe that.”
Baker has been a critic of Trump on several fronts, and said he didn’t vote for him last November, instead leaving his presidential ballot blank.
Baker has yet to officially announce he’s seeking re-election, but he’s consistently polled well, including a Morning Consult poll that pegged him as the country’s most popular governor.
He’s also pushed his personal campaign account to more than $6.2 million…