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Gov. Charlie Baker speaking during a press conference in November. Photo: Jonathan Wiggs/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R), a moderate who typically ranks as one of the nation's most popular governors, and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito (R) announced Wednesday that they will not seek third terms in 2022.

Why it matters: The decision leaves the gubernatorial race wide open and will likely affect multiple down-ballot races next year. Baker was expected to be the front-runner had he joined the race.

What they're saying: "After several months of discussion with our families, we have decided not to seek re-election in 2022," Baker and Polito said in a statement.

  • "Serving as Governor and Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts has been the most challenging and fulfilling jobs we’ve ever had. We will forever be grateful to the people of this state for giving us this great honor," they added.

The big picture: Throughout the Trump administration and the coronavirus pandemic, Baker distanced himself from national Republican issues, such as opposing vaccine mandates and showing public loyalty to former President Trump.

  • Because of this, Baker usually has a higher approval rating with state Democrats and independents than with Republicans.
  • If Baker ran for re-election and won, he would have been the first Massachusetts governor to serve three consecutive four-year terms.

Go deeper: Massachusetts' Charlie Baker joins governors facing COVID criticism

Go deeper

Jan 10, 2022 - Health

Arkansas governor: Big businesses shouldn't comply with vaccine mandate

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson during a COVID-19 vaccine promotion event in Mountain Home, Ark., in July last year. Photo: Liz Sanders/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson said large businesses should not comply with the Biden administration's "oppressive" mandate for COVID-19 vaccinations or testing that's due to take effect Monday.

What he's saying: The Republican governor told CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday the requirement "needs to be struck down" and urged Arkansas businesses with 100 or more employees affected by it to wait for the Supreme Court ruling on the matter.

Thousands without power as "hazardous" winter storm lashes East Coast

Winter view from Charlotte as winter storm Izzy creates dangerous conditions in Charlotte, N.C. on Jan. 16. Photo: Peter Zay/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

A major winter storm was lashing much of the East Coast on Sunday, causing widespread power outages and disrupting travel over the holiday weekend.

The big picture: Heavy snow and ice accumulations are "likely to produce hazardous travel," downed trees and more power outages from the Mid-South to the Northeast, per the National Weather Service. Some parts of the U.S. can expect to see up to a foot of snow through Monday.

Updated 1 hour ago - Science

Volcanic eruption in Tonga caused "significant" damage

This satellite image of the eruption on Jan. 15 taken by Himawari-8, a Japanese weather satellite operated by Japan Meteorological Agency and released by National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT). Photo: NICT via AP

Significant damage has been reported in Tonga following an undersea volcanic eruption on Saturday, which covered the Pacific nation in ash and cut off communication lines.

Driving the news: The eruption triggered tsunami warnings across Tonga's islands and in other regions, including the West Coast of the U.S. and New Zealand.

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