A NORTH SHORE STORY: Trump’s Win Set Stage For Inter-Party Drama

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2017/03/23/a-north-shore-story-trumps-win-sets-stage-for-inter-party-drama/

GLOUCESTER — A Donald Trump-inspired newcomer to the Republican Party is making waves, and claims that longtime MassGOPers are working behind the scenes — and engaging in a harassment campaign — to block her bid to land a seat on the state committee.

Dianna Ploss, the subject of a lengthy New York Times profile and additional pieces aimed at explaining Trump’s effect on those previously uninvolved and uninterested in politics, confirmed this week in an interview with New Boston Post that she is running for a Republican State Committee seat. 

The only problem? The woman — Angela Quinn Hudak of Boxford — who currently holds the First Essex & Middlesex seat (which is the same area as Gloucester Republican state Senator Bruce Tarr’s district, encompassing 17 cities and towns), has yet to resign.

Ploss, however, learned that Hudak will soon be moving out of state, a development that will eventually necessitate Hudak’s resignation.

Thus, the seeds for an off-cycle intra-party North Shore political drama have been sowed. For Ploss, it’s the outsider taking on the insiders. For Hudak, Ploss’s ploy is a disrespectful powerplay aimed at keeping the person she believes is her rightful successor — longtime Middleton GOP handler Arete Pascucci — from claiming her seat. 

The narrative includes friendly relationships gone sour, harassment allegations, and even a police report.

Reached Thursday, Hudak confirmed she has made plans to move away from Massachusetts.

“I’ve had a horrible year, my husband divorced me after 33 years of marriage, so it’s been a traumatic year for me,” Hudak said, referring to her now-former husband Bill Hudak, a one-time Tea Party candidate for Congress. “The only way I feel like I can move forward is to move away, so I am moving to North Carolina, but my plan is to hold off on resigning until at least the May [state GOP] meetings.”

Hudak has served on the committee for less than a year. During last March’s state committee elections, it was Hudak who defeated a candidate that had been backed by the moderate wing of the party, including Gov. Charlie Baker. Hudak was backed by GOP state representatives Lenny Mirra of West Newbury and Jim Lyons of Andover.

Pascucci noted that she too worked on Trump’s presidential campaign and served as a delegate at last summer’s Republican National Convention.  

Hudak said she has asked Ploss to hold off on making any announcement regarding her state committee bid until after she issues her formal resignation. Those plans were dashed, however, when Ploss elected to tape a segment for WCVB Channel 5’s Chronicle program, slated to run tonight, in which she will announce her candidacy.

“This is really upsetting me, I’ve had people call Chronicle for me,” Hudak said. “She [Ploss] reached out to me, I told her I will have to eventually resign, but I haven’t and she’s already announcing that she wants to take my seat.

“It’s a problem — once this Chronicle thing shows tonight, my phone will be ringing off the hook and I probably will not answer it.”

Crashing the Party

Ploss told New Boston Post that she has a vision of a far-more inclusive MassGOP. In a recent interview, Ploss recalled a presidential election cycle that featured a noticeably icy relationship between the state GOP leadership and vocal Trump backers such as herself.

“All I’m thinking is this:  here’s a grassroots person in me that wants to get in, and even if she’s [Pascucci] not GOP establishment, she’s still establishment,” Ploss said, adding that she’s received several voicemail messages from Pascucci not only urging her to stay out of the race, but also requesting she endorse her. “They don’t want outsiders to get in. They say they support Trump yet turn around and talk about how all their experience means people like me can’t get into the club. That’s the irony of all of this: she [Pascucci] supported a guy who was an outsider and now they’re threatening another outsider in me.”

Pascucci has claimed she has the backing of party heavy-hitters like Ron Kaufman. 

Ploss, a Gloucester resident, said the voicemails from Pascucci helped prompt her to file a report with the Gloucester Police Department. In the report, Ploss claims that ever since she told Pascucci and Hudak about her taping of the Chronicle segment, both repeatedly asked her to reconsider. Texts and voicemails from Pascucci, Ploss claims, back her allegations of harassment.

Ploss even shared with New Boston Post a copy of a message sent to her by an anonymous Facebook under the name of “Joe Polio.”

“You’re a closet Democrat operative that’s infiltrated the GOP,” the message read. “DROP OUT.

“You have 48 hours to endorse the right person …”

Ploss, who volunteered and served as a deputy state director for the Trump campaign, told New Boston Post she had been a registered Democrat for most of her life but registered Republican in 2013, the same year she moved from Cambridge to Gloucester.

Ploss said the Facebook message, combined with voicemails from Pascucci, ultimately led her to contact police.

“At this time Dianna Ploss is more concerned that she has 48 hours or else,” the police report notes.

Does experience Trump energy?

Reached Thursday, Pascucci acknowledged that Ploss previously approached her and Hudak at a political gathering to inform them of her plans to run. Pascucci, however, was surprised when informed that Ploss had named her in a police report.

“They can play those tapes,” Pascucci said regarding the voicemails. “All I said was to be respectful. That’s it. The Police Department hasn’t called me, they’d reach out to me if there was something wrong.

“Now that she did that, that’s not cool. I left her a couple voicemails telling her to be respectful to Angela. That’s not attacking anybody.”

Ploss said a common theme has surfaced in each of the voicemails Pascucci has left with her — namely, that Pascucci claims her 30-plus years spent backing the state GOP means she is more qualified to run.

“They’re saying I don’t have the decency to wait, but Angela [Hudak] didn’t have the decency to say to me she was going to endorse Arete [Pascucci], and that’s what politics is — they try to blindside you,” Ploss said. “I’m learning this.

“These people are much more sophisticated when it comes to this stuff than I am.”

Pascucci said she disputes Ploss’s account as laid out in her police report.

“I’m going to tell you — how can I put this professionally —  Dianna Ploss will say things that are not true,” Pascucci said, adding that she and Ploss used to be friends. “I find that she’ll say things about people that they never said.

“When I hear her saying this, I don’t know how true it is.”

Pascucci added that Ploss should have respected Hudak’s wishes and waited until she filed her formal resignation prior to making her announcement.

“You have to respect someone’s wishes and be polite,” Pascucci said. “I’ve been doing this game for 30 years, it comes down to respect, when someone asks you to do something, you respect their ways.”

Ploss said she can no longer take the status quo of the MassGOP.

“The point is, the story is that here’s a grassroots person who is getting threatened in order to endorse somebody that has 30-plus years of experience,” Ploss said. “Threatening me that I have to drop out and endorse her. That’s crazy.

“How do you build a party if you threaten those who want to get in the door? How do you build?”

READ: Gloucester Police Department report