(Headline USA) Geoff Diehl, a former state representative endorsed by former President Donald Trump, has won the Republican nomination for Massachusetts governor over businessman Chris Doughty, who was considered the less conservative candidate in the race.
“We’re going to run a campaign that is focused specifically on ‘We the people’—our freedoms, our rights and our prosperity,” Diehl told supporters Tuesday evening.
“Massachusetts is no longer the place where people flock to in order for the protection of their freedoms and to build a better life for the families,” he continued. “Now it’s a place people are leaving.”
The victory for Diehl sets up a general election contest against Democratic Attorney General Maura Healey, who would be the first openly gay person and the first woman elected governor of Massachusetts if she wins in November.
The state’s current governor, Republican Charlie Baker, decided against seeking a third term.
Republican voters made Massachusetts the latest blue state this midterm season to nominate a Trump loyalist in a high-profile race—a risky gambit that could potentially pay off as outraged voters gravitate toward what may be a red wave of revolt against Establishment politicians.
While much of the anger is reserved for Biden’s far-left radical Democrats, do-nothing RINOs like Baker and Maryland GOP Gov. Larry Hogan have undermined conservatives by going after former President Donald Trump, effectively doing the Left’s bidding despite claiming to be Republicans.
Voters in Connecticut and Maryland, both deep-blue states where centrist Republicans have found some success in previous elections, also selected conservative candidates to go up against a radical leftist Democrat in the general election.
Healey, whose only rival for the nomination dropped out of the race but remained on the ballot, will be the heavy favorite in November against Diehl in one of the most far-left states in the nation.
At her victory party Tuesday night before the GOP race was called for Diehl, Healey told cheering supporters that regardless of which candidate emerged as her opponent, “We know he’ll be out of touch with the values we stand for.”
Speaking of both candidates, she added, “They’ll bring Trumpism to Massachusetts.”
Diehl, the favorite among state Republican Party delegates, has ties to Trump stretching to 2016, when he served as co-chair for Trump’s presidential campaign in Massachusetts.
Diehl has also opposed despotic COVID-19 protocols and hailed the Supreme Court ruling overturning the federal abortion mandate established by Roe v. Wade.
Doughty said he supported some of Trump’s initiatives but wanted to focus on challenges facing Massachusetts, which he said is increasingly unaffordable.
During a telerally Monday night, Trump said Diehl would “rule your state with an iron fist.”
The challenge for Diehl in the general election is that support of Trump may play well among the party’s conservative wing but could be a political albatross in a state where registered Republicans make up less than 10% of the electorate compared with about 31% for Democrats and about 57% for independents.
Diehl faced a similar struggle when he challenged Democratic U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren in 2018. He won a three-way Republican primary only to capture just over a third of the vote in the general election.
Massachusetts has a history of electing fiscally conservative, socially moderate Republican governors—including former Govs. William Weld and Mitt Romney—to provide a check on overwhelming Democratic legislative majorities. Baker, another Republican in that mold, has remained popular in the state.
But Healey does face an oddball hurdle in Massachusetts—the so-called curse of the attorney general. Since 1958, six former Massachusetts attorneys general have sought the governor’s office. All failed.
The state has previously had a female governor, though she was appointed to the position. Republican Jane Swift served as acting governor after Gov. Paul Cellucci stepped down in 2001 to become U.S. ambassador to Canada.
Tuesday’s election also featured several statewide contested Democratic primaries, including for attorney general and secretary of the commonwealth.
None of the state’s nine incumbent Democratic U.S. House members faced primary challengers. There were two contested Republican primaries in the 8th and 9th congressional districts.
Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press