Diehl Weighing Senate Run: ‘Liz Warren Doesn’t Seem To Understand Presidential Campaign Is Over’
By Evan Lips | February 13, 2017, 19:58 EDT
BOSTON — State Representative Geoff Diehl was unable to defeat a well-connected Beacon Hill Democrat from Brockton in his bid to land a seat in the state Senate, so what makes the Whitman Republican think he can dethrone U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren?
“There was a WBUR poll a little while ago that caught my attention,” Diehl told New Boston Post on Monday. “It showed that 46 percent of voters believe she should not continue as our senator, and that was done by WBUR, a very liberal news source.”
In fact, WBUR’s poll found that just 44 percent believe Warren “deserves reelection” while, as Diehl noted, 46 percent of respondents believe voters “ought to give someone else a chance.”
Diehl stressed that he’s still only “seriously considering” challenging Warren in 2018. He noted he was “approached” by various GOP insiders not just in Massachusetts, but also while he was in Washington D.C. last month attending President Donald Trump’s inauguration.
Diehl was also the only lawmaker on Beacon Hill to publicly back Trump during the Republican primary. He later served as co-chairman of Trump’s Massachusetts campaign. Despite fierce blowback from state Democrats who called on him in August to disavow Trump’s campaign, Diehl soldiered onward.
Diehl pointed out that WBUR completed its polling prior to Warren’s latest national headlines-grabbing moment, in which Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell elected to force a vote calling for Warren to be silenced roughly 45 minutes into her confirmation diatribe against fellow senator Jeff Sessions’s nomination to serve as attorney general.
“Look, the fact of the matter is it seems more important to her to grandstand than to try to work with her colleagues in the Senate in order to help people back home,” Diehl said.
Diehl pointed out Warren’s decision to vote against the 21st Century Cures Act, legislation which she claimed was merely “Big Pharma having its hand out for a bunch of special giveaways and favors.” Warren railed against the bill despite its unanimous support from all nine Massachusetts House members and local addiction support groups.
“She’s the face of obstruction in Washington at a time when the public is sick of partisan gridlock,” Diehl added. “And what has she done for Massachusetts that anyone can point to? All she seems to be doing is posturing for a presidential run.”
Asked about his own track record working across the political aisle, Diehl pointed to a bill he filed, with the help of the founder of the former United Independent Party, Evan Falchuk, that called for ensuring a guarantee that taxpayers would not be on the hook for 2024 Summer Olympics cost overruns, back when Boston was flirting with hosting the games.
Diehl said one of his proudest achievements was working to lead the 2014 ballot petition that ultimately sank an automatic statewide increase in the gas tax that Beacon Hill Democrats had inserted as a provision into a transportation financing bill.
As for Diehl’s failed 2015 state Senate bid, the Republican from Whitman pointed out that he garnered more than 70 percent of the suburban vote in the Second Plymouth and Bristol district, an area that encompasses Brockton, his then-adversary’s hometown.
The City of Champions delivered for then-state Representative Michael Brady, who defeated Diehl in a special election, with Brady netting 57 percent of the vote.
Asked if there were any lessons he learned from his loss to Brady, Diehl cited hardball politics. He pointed to the fact that Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin’s office ordered that the date of the November 2015 special election coincide with the date of Brockton’s city elections, which provided a clear boost for his opponent.
Diehl, however, added that he relishes the underdog role.
“If I run, it won’t be the first time that I’ve been in the underdog role,” Diehl said, referring both to the gas tax repeal and his upset win over incumbent Democrat Allen McCarthy in 2010 that landed him a seat in the state House of Representatives.
Warren is not unbeatable, he said.
“She may have the financial edge but it’s the grassroots work — speaking directly to voters and not taking marching orders from the Democratic National Committee — that will prevail in 2018,” Diehl said. “Her popularity is currently based on the fact she’s done everything she can to obstruct President Trump, and he was given a zero chance of winning too. He not only won the primary, but the whole thing.”
Warren announced early that she will seek re-election in November 2018. The race is already drawing some interest.
Diehl said Warren could falter if she continues to focus on simply smearing her opponents.
“That strategy is no longer successful,” he said.
Diehl also said that he will actively support anyone in his party who decides to take on Warren, even he isn’t the nominee.
“Right now Elizabeth Warren is not helping Massachusetts, so whether it’s me or someone else, I want to help take out someone who doesn’t seem to appreciate what the responsibilities of a senator are,” Diehl said. “Even Ted Kennedy was known for being willing to work with Republican presidents and governors.”
Warren, Diehl said, “doesn’t seem to understand that the campaign for the presidency is over.”
“She needs to be working for us now,” he said.
As of press time, Warren’s office had yet to respond to a request for comment.