Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios Pro Rata

Dive into the world of dealmakers across VC, PE and M&A with Axios Pro Rata. Delivered daily to your inbox by Dan Primack and Kia Kokalitcheva.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Nashville news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Nashville newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Columbus news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Columbus newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Dallas news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Dallas newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Austin news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Austin newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Atlanta news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Atlanta newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Philadelphia news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Philadelphia newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Chicago news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Chicago newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios NW Arkansas

Stay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reporters

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top DC news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios DC newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Baker and Polito at their inaugural celebration in 2015. Photo: Paul Marotta/Getty Images

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, a Republican who has regularly polled as the most popular governor in the country, is facing declining fundraising numbers amid rising criticism for his handling of the coronavirus, stirring questions about whether he'll seek re-election next year or even try to pass the torch early.

Why it matters: Increasingly, the nation's governors are under growing scrutiny for their states' infection and death rates, economic losses and vaccine plans. Democratic governors representing two of the most populous states — Gavin Newsom of California and Andrew Cuomo of New York — are fighting for their political survival.

  • The departure of Donald Trump as president has removed a foil many governors used to explain problems with their state COVID relief efforts.

Details: In Massachusetts, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito has sharply increased her fundraising while Baker’s has declined. They are up for reelection in 2022.

  • Campaign finance reports show she ended last month with $1.95 million cash on hand; he finished with $590,000. She grew her balance by nearly 10% during 2020; his declined by over 35%.
  • Seniors in the state are complaining about long lines and confusing vaccination signups.
  • Lawmakers at every level are angry, too, and there are lingering questions about why a medical mecca has had high case and death rates.
  • A recent Boston Globe headline questioned the vaunted management skills of Baker, a former health care executive and state budget chief.
  • A Boston Herald columnist recently raised the specter of Baker taking a golden parachute by heading two newly merged health care companies — Tufts Health Plan and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, where Baker previously served as CEO.
  • Campaign spokesman Jim Conroy said: “Governor Baker's top priority and focus remains managing the Commonwealth through the pandemic, rather than electoral politics.”

The intrigue: While Massachusetts is an overwhelmingly blue state, it has a history of electing Republican governors. Two recent ones — Bill Weld and Paul Cellucci — presaged Baker and Polito by running in tandem with their lieutenant governors before passing off the corner office.

  • Weld left Cellucci as governor in 1997 during a failed quest to become U.S. ambassador to Mexico. Cellucci left Jane Swift as governor in 2001 after winning confirmation as ambassador to Canada.
  • Baker served both Weld and Cellucci as secretary of Administration and Finance. Polito has been a loyal Baker ally, and Massachusetts has a relatively thin Republican bench.

But, but, but: Local politicos have noted that Baker spent much of the past year coping with COVID-19, impinging on his political activity and making fundraising appear unseemly.

  • He also raised money during his first two campaigns in large chunks through a political action committee that could accept donations exceeding the $1,000 limit on individual contributions.
  • One Baker adviser told Axios that once Baker leaves office — almost certainly not before any term ends — the governor is unlikely to assume a CEO role.

Baker's problems could be worse — just look at some of his counterparts. In California, Newsom faces a threatened recall effort. In New York, Cuomo faces the wrath of state lawmakers — and potential legal jeopardy.

What we're watching: Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, a Democrat, has been weighing a bid for governor, and a Democratic former state senator has already declared his candidacy.

  • Another high-profile Democrat, former Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy III, lost a primary campaign to unseat Democratic Sen. Edward J. Markey last fall. He has said he has no immediate plans to run for any other elective office, but recently launched a grassroots organizing effort.

Editor’s note: Updates with comment from Baker spokesman, and adjusts speculation about potential next jobs.

Go deeper

CNN says Chris Cuomo banned from covering brother, despite early pandemic exception

Screenshot via CNN

A CNN spokesperson told the Washington Post that a rule prohibiting anchor Chris Cuomo from interviewing or covering his brother, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, "remains in place today."

Why it matters: Chris Cuomo hosted his brother for numerous segments of "Cuomo Prime Time" to discuss the coronavirus last year, when New York was at the epicenter of the pandemic and the governor was winning plaudits for his crisis management. Gov. Cuomo is now facing a federal probe and calls to resign over his handling of COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes.

6 hours ago - Health

Fauci: Omicron variant will "inevitably" be found in U.S.

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, cautioned on Sunday that the COVID-19 Omicron variant will "inevitably" be found in the United States.

Driving the news: Fauci, Biden's chief medical adviser, told ABC's George Stephanopoulos on "This Week" that U.S. officials will meet with colleagues from South Africa later on Sunday to try to determine the severity of the cases, as countries scramble to learn more about the variant.

Updated 8 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Dems fear supply-chain blame

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

As supply-chain kinks drive up prices and disrupt holiday shopping, Democrats are scrambling to show action and deflect blame.

Why it matters: With their party controlling both the White House and Capitol, vulnerable Democrats worry supply-chain snafus will hurt them in next year's midterms.