STATE HOUSE, BOSTON — State Rep. Keiko Orrall, a Lakeville Republican and one of two Massachusetts members of the Republican National Committee, has been seriously exploring a statewide campaign for treasurer, according to two House Republicans.

Orrall, who was first elected to the House in a special election in 2011 when she flipped a previously Democrat-held seat, elevated her statewide profile two years ago when she challenged incumbent national committeewoman Chanel Prunier for one of the two RNC slots from Massachusetts.

With the backing of Gov. Charlie Baker, she prevailed in a close contest, along with a number of other Baker-supported state committee candidates, in what became a takeover by Baker of the state GOP apparatus.

Orrall, if she does pull the trigger, would be the first Republican to enter the treasurer's race as a potential challenger to incumbent Democrat Deborah Goldberg in November.

She would also be following a path trod by Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, who in 2010 as a state representative ran for treasurer. Thought Polito lost to Democrat Steve Grossman, she parlayed the exposure she received into a slot on the Republican gubernatorial ticket with Baker four years later.

"She told me she's considering it, but nothing final," Assistant Minority Leader Brad Hill told the News Service this week when asked about Orrall's ambitions.

A second House Republican, who asked for anonymity to discuss the political plans of a colleague, confirmed that Orrall had also indicated her interest in running for treasurer.

"I don't know what she's waiting for. We have her seat to think about too," the lawmaker said.

Orrall, 50, did not return calls seeking comment, but some party insiders said they would expect an announcement soon if she plans to run.

So far, the only action on the Republican side in down ballot statewide contests in 2018 has been for attorney general where two lawyers – Dan Shores and Jay McMahon – have stepped up to challenge Attorney General Maura Healey.

Republicans have yet to roll out candidates to serve as alternatives to Auditor Suzanne Bump and Secretary of State William Galvin.

In the Legislature, Orrall has been a vocal critic of nationalized school testing standards and has received high marks from pro-life, anti-tax and gun rights groups. She also opposed plans for a tribal casino in Taunton, and has been vocal about the need for to provide communities surrounding the proposed site with more mitigation money.

Born in Cincinnati, Orrall graduated from Smith College in Northampton and worked as a teacher in the Lakeville public schools before she was elected to the Legislature. She is of Japanese and German Irish descent, and Republicans believe she has a unique story to tell, that coupled with her fundraising ability, would make her an attractive candidate.

Despite her conservative bonafides, Baker has in the past referred to Orrall as a bridge-builder.

"She is someone who can rise above whatever the differences might be between and among people in the party on one issue or another, and it's always been one of her strongest characteristics and best traits," Baker said when Orrall was running for GOP national committeewoman.

In the House, she has partnered with liberal Democrats to support legislation that would require gender-neutral pricing for the roughly 182,000 people insured by state-regulated disability insurance policies and exempt college students enrolled in health care sharing organizations from a requirement to purchase insurance.

Baker, when asked on WGBH radio late last month about down ballot races, said he believed there were "several folks who are considering running for treasurer."

"My general rule when it comes to primaries on the Republican side, and I think most people on the other side feel the same way about this, is you generally let the voters who vote in the primaries decide who makes it to the general and then people typically support the final ticket when it gets there," the governor said.

--Matt Murphy, State House News Service

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