Governor Charlie Baker skipped dinner with the vice president to have dinner with the leaders of Greater New Bedford and Fall River in Westport. And that was a smart move for him.

As Baker ramps up his efforts to win re-election as Governor of Massachusetts, he has to pick his opportunities and maximize his time. Being the top elected official in the Commonwealth is a full-time job and so is running for office, so Baker and his team can't waste a moment.

Skipping a Republican fundraising event in Boston with Vice President Mike Pence in favor of an event in Westport indicates just how important Bristol County is to Baker's re-election strategy. It would have been much easier to walk over to the GOP event from the State House than to drive down to the southernmost part of the state at rush hour, and then return home to the North Shore.

Four years ago, Charlie Baker was victorious over Attorney General Martha Coakley in Bristol County by 72,641 to 66,045 votes in the general election. That margin is significant, because the statewide election was also extremely close. Baker won 16 out of 20 of the communities that encompass Bristol County. He lost in only New Bedford, Fairhaven, Fall River and Somerset.

The county that has elected the most conservative sheriff in America, Thomas Hodgson, has obviously changed since it was "Dukakis Country" in the 1980s. The city of New Bedford has five State Representatives, but only two of them live in the city; the other three are in Baker-friendly suburbs with a district that includes Democrat precincts in New Bedford.

Charlie Baker is making a move to again win Bristol County, and he wants a much bigger margin of victory this time. That is something the Republican who ultimately faces off against Sen. Liz Warren should appreciate in November.

Chris McCarthy is the host of The Chris McCarthy Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from 10 a.m. to noon. Contact him at and follow him on Twitter @Chris_topher_Mc. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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