Two Republican candidates hope to avoid ‘San Francisco on steroids’ after nation’s most popular governor retires

  • Massachusetts Republican Governor Charlie Baker is not running for re-election in 2022.
  • The two Republican candidates vying to replace him — Geoff Diehl and Chris Doughty — are lagging significantly behind Democratic candidate Maura Healey in the early polls.
  • Neither man is discouraged, however, and both spoke to the Daily Caller News Foundation to discuss why they are the best fit for the state and how they plan to maintain GOP control of the Massachusetts governor’s office.

Despite a popular outgoing GOP governor, Republicans in Massachusetts face an uphill battle to replace him with another conservative, but two candidates believe they are up to the task.

Government leader Charlie Baker’s 69 percent approval rating puts him on par with the country’s most popular governor, according to Morning Consult, but he announced in December that he would not run for a third term to focus instead on managing Massachusetts’ economy from the pandemic, NPR reported at the time. While both potential Republican replacements—former state representative and U.S. Senate candidate— Geoff Diehl and political newcomer and businessman Chris Doughty — Democratic candidate and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey trailed by about 30 points in a recent Suffolk opinion pollthey both told the Daily Caller News Foundation that they don’t shy away from the challenge and that it’s critical that a Republican wins the state house in November.

“The Massachusetts state legislature is one of the most liberal in the nation, as is the judiciary, and Maura Healey would be one of the most liberal governors in the country,” Doughty told the DCNF. “Without conservative control in the governor’s office, this would be San Francisco on steroids.”

“She is an ideologue of a great government that wants to take away the freedoms on which our state is built,” Diehl told the DCNF.

Healey has sued the Trump administration nearly 100 times as attorney general and has been accused of focusing on national culture wars rather than acting as a public servant to Massachusetts residents. according to WGBH, Boston’s local NPR station.

Whenever Healey has been involved in these “politically motivated lawsuits,” Republican attorney Dan Shores said, he meant “another drug dealer going free, or another public servant committing an act of corruption, or another senior being defrauded.” WBUR, another NPR affiliate in Boston, reported.

U.S Attorney Andrew Lelling and the left-wing Boston Globe editorial board have also criticized Healey for failing to prosecute government corruption in the predominantly Democratic state government for never indicting an elected official in the state, WGBH reported.

The Healey campaign did not respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.

While both Doughty and Diehl agree that a Healey governorship would spell disaster for Massachusetts, they disagree on the man who will do it.

The Donald Trump-tuned Diehl seems to be the frontrunner right now, with a opinion poll conducted in late June and showed him 52% of Doughty’s 16% among Republicans, though the numbers are six weeks old and Doughty says his campaign has kicked things into high gear since then.

Diehl has much more political experience than Doughty; he won office as a state representative in 2010, and while unsuccessful, challenged Elizabeth Warren to the U.S. Senate in 2018. He says the experience helped him build “a really strong team across the state and while I didn’t beat Warren, I actually got more votes than the Democratic nominee for governor that cycle.”

Diehl grew up in Pennsylvania before moving to Whitman, Massachusetts, his wife’s hometown, where they run a small performing arts business. It is these credentials in both private business and government that Diehl supporters believe make him the best choice for governor.

“Geoff is the only one in this race to have experience with both the private and public sectors, which helps him understand how different puzzle pieces fit together,” Diehl’s campaign manager, Amanda Orlando, told the DCNF.

Diehl’s status as a small business owner also gave him a unique vantage point on the impact of COVID-19 restrictions on entrepreneurs, ultimately spurring him to announce his candidacy last summer, even before Baker made it clear he wasn’t looking. was up for re-election.

“The pandemic has exposed his government for following too much of the democratic playbook; we had to wait for random reopenings, kids didn’t go back to school,” Diehl told the DCNF, adding that “on day one we would take back all government employees who lost their jobs due to vaccine mandates, and on day two we would fire everyone.” who thought that was a good idea.”

Defiant Baker — a Republican nemesis of Trump — helped Diehl earn the former president’s support, and Diehl’s campaign includes former Trump ringers, most notably Corey Lewandowski, who led portions of Trump’s 2016 campaign.

This week, the Diehl campaign is flying into another of Trump’s staunch ally, South Dakota’s Republican government, Kristi Noem, for a fundraising event, Diehl told the DCNF.

But Doughty thinks these Trump connections make Diehl ineligible in New England. “He’s campaigning in Alabama in Massachusetts,” Doughty told the DCNF. While signs indicate Trump is popular in the GOP of Massachusetts, Republicans make up a small percentage of registered voters in the state, and the former president lost Massachusetts in 2020 by a margin of 2 to 1, according to WBUR.

The Wrentham-based businessman and political newcomer believes that where Diehl plays in hot-button culture wars, his pragmatism and business acumen make him the right choice for Massachusetts.

“I will run the state as I run my business. I will be very careful with money — we tax too much and spend too much in Massachusetts and it makes us uncompetitive,” he told the DCNF, also repeatedly claiming his chops as “tax conservative” outweigh Diehls.”

“Diehl voted for more spending in the state legislature than even our Democratic governor [Deval Patrick] supported when we had him,” Doughty told the DCNF.

Doughty also pledges to compromise with Democrats, with a “unified view of the world,” according to WBUR, which has drawn comparisons to other moderate Republicans who have had success in Massachusetts in the past, such as Baker and Mitt Romney.

“I’m not here to say bad things about other people or other parties,” Doughty told WBUR.

But without Baker’s name recognition, many pundits question Doughty’s ability to succeed in a Massachusetts GOP primary, while most Republican voters in the state are aligned with the party’s pro-Trump wing. according to WBUR.

“It may be easier to put a camel through the eye of a needle than to get a moderate through a Republican primaries” in Massachusetts today, Eric Fehrnstrom, a longtime Republican adviser, told WBUR. (RELATED: ‘Vindictive’: GOP Candidate Launches Unconventional Attack Line to Unload Dem)

While each faces their own challenges — Doughty immediately in the primaries and Diehl in the general election — both men see national political trends and a potential “red wave” playing in their favour. President Joe Biden’s favor has steadily declined in Massachusetts to about 41%, while 48% disapprove, according to the Suffolk poll, which surveyed 600 Massachusetts residents between July 20 and 23 and had a 4.5% margin of error.

Diehl noted the “Youngkin situation, where even in blue states or purple states you start to see that middle ground — including 57% of voters who aren’t registered in Massachusetts — by looking at the country and saying, ‘You know what? what? The Democrats didn’t do it for us.’”

For his part, Doughty told the DCNF that “Geoff and I are pretty far behind Maura, but what’s happened in Massachusetts in the past is Republicans are catching up three or four weeks before the general election — that’s when we get traction and starting to get the attention of voters.”

Whether a Republican in November can pose a real challenge to Healey remains to be seen, but the next step is the party’s primary on September 6.

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