DIEHL MAKES IT OFFICIAL — He’s Taking On Liz Warren in 2018

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2017/08/02/diehl-makes-it-official-hes-taking-on-liz-warren-in-2018/

WHITMAN, Mass. — It’s now official — South Shore GOP state Representative Geoff Diehl is taking on the Bay State’s senior U.S. Senator, Elizabeth Warren, in 2018.

The Whitman Republican made the official announcement Tuesday night inside a packed VFW hall in his hometown, the same venue where he kicked off his successful 2010 campaign to unseat a Democratic incumbent. The scene appeared to bring back fond memories for Diehl, who mentioned the name John Walsh — the former Massachusetts Democratic Party chairman hailing from neighboring Abington — who managed former Democratic Governor Deval Patrick’s winning 2006 campaign.

Was it a subtle underdog taunt? Because Tuesday’s pro-populist tone was unmistakable, as Diehl made a concerted effort to paint Warren as a Beltway insider, whose ultimate end-game is to book the Oval Office for 2020.

On the same day that word leaked from former President Barack Obama’s “inner circle” urging Patrick to run for the White House in 2020, Diehl tore into the now-Bain Capital executive, reminding his raucous followers about his 2014 campaign leading a successful ballot initiative that overturned the Legislature’s Patrick-backed vote to connect yearly state gas tax rates to inflation.

In what appeared to be an effort to tap into the populist fever that propelled President Donald Trump into the White House, Diehl reminded attendees that his anti-gas tax campaign was outspent $3 million to $90,000. Diehl, who co-chaired Trump’s campaign in Massachusetts, said the anti-gas tax campaign “was up against it everywhere.”

“The tax would have gone up automatically without a single representative vote forever,” Diehl said. “Household budgets would have been strapped with that gas tax going up automatically every year.”

Diehl’s remarks drew loud applause, but none louder than when he called out the Cambridge Democrat Warren.

At one point, Diehl asked the crowd, “what can I do for you?”

The response featured the crowd apparently channeling their inner President Donald Trump — with shouts of “win” — and beat Elizabeth Warren. (See video below.)

“Can anybody in this room name for me one accomplishment from our senior senator here in Massachusetts?” Diehl dryly asked, eliciting shouts of “nothing,” among other cries. “That’s my point exactly.”

But Warren’s supporters, apparently directed by the Massachusetts Democratic Party’s outfit in Norwell, turned out in droves, hoisting Warren signs at a rotary along a major thoroughfare linking the VFW hall in Whitman with busy Route. 3.

Diehl, meanwhile, made a series of references to the National Football League’s reigning Super Bowl champion New England Patriots, especially coach Bill Belichick, whom he quoted regarding the coach’s five rules for exceptional leadership, revealed during a CNBC interview. One of the rules Diehl focused on during his remarks Tuesday was “never resting on your laurels.”

“I will say this — we have a lot of laurels to hang our hat on,” Diehl said, recalling his 2010 victory and his party’s gas tax defeat-victory.

Diehl, however, is not the only Republican challenging Warren. Weeks ago a Mumbai-born tech entrepreneur named Shiva Ayyadurai tossed his hat into the race. Ayyadurai made headlines for launching his campaign with the slogan, “only a real Indian can defeat a fake Indian,” a dig at Warren’s claim of Native American heritage that dates back to her application to teach at Harvard Law School.

Ayyadurai recently tussled with radio host and Diehl backer Howie Carr over a 2005 domestic battery charge in an appearance that left some questioning his temperament.  

On Thursday, Hub businessman John Kingston will be holding a downtown campaign dinner event, while other potential suitors for the GOP nod include former aide to Governor Mitt Romney Beth Lindstrom, also known for managing then-Wrentham state Senator Scott Brown’s 2010 upset U.S. Senate win in the special election tussle with Democrat Martha Coakley following longtime Senator Ted Kennedy’s death.

Asked by reporters following his remarks to comment on his potential Republican primary opponents, Diehl responded by saying his sole focus is on Warren.

Notables from the evening:

  • Diehl’s emcee Tuesday night happened to be former WEEI sports talk radio host John Dennis, a noted Warren critic, who offered some strong criticisms of the Cambridge Democrat — even at one point comparing her to top-dollar Red Sox pitcher David Price, he of the abysmal big game postseason record who recently drew criticism for calling out Hall of Famer and Red Sox television analyst Dennis Eckersley. Dennis appeared to toy with the crowd, asking at one point which “F-word” the high-paid Sox hurler shared in common with Warren — the answer being “Failure.” 
  • Dennis later made sport of Warren’s “E.W.” initials, drawing laughs from the crowd when he pointed out the phonetic “ewww” that comes when uttering the letters.
  • More Dennis:  “I want you to mark down this day, mentally and maybe on your iPhone or your iPad, August 1, this year, because it’s a red letter day — it’s the beginning of her [Warren’s] end, and I’d like to make a date with every one of you, that maybe 15 months from now, we will gather again — maybe not here — but maybe here — we’ll need a bigger hall, and we will celebrate the fact that the man who will solve the problem that is Elizabeth Warren will be going to the Senate for Massachusetts.”
  • Diehl gave a shout-out to former United Independent Party leader Evan Falchuk for teaming up with him to file a ballot question that would have banned taxpayer money from funding projected overruns involved with the since-failed Boston 2024 Summer Olympics bid.
  • Diehl added himself to the lengthy list of Massachusetts pols who have flubbed when it comes to sports analogies. While it wasn’t in the same class as former Boston Mayor Thomas Menino’s “ionic” “Varitek splitting the uprights” gaffe (one of several, e.g.: “Wes Wekler”) or former U.S. Senator John Kerry’s praising of “Manny Ortez” — there’s also the late Senator Kennedy’s affinity for the retired Major League Baseball slugging duo “Mike McGwire and Sammy Sooser” — Diehl nonetheless confused Polish-American New England Patriots teammates Rob Gronkowski, the team’s All-Pro tight end, with its All-Pro kicker Steven Gostkowski. Recalled Diehl during his speech: “Remember when it was 28-3 in the third quarter, and Rob Gronkowski I think even missed another field goal?” … The brief mistaken Polish identity did not appear to have any effect on his crowd of supporters, which included Waltham native and former Patriot and WEEI football talk show personality Fred Smerlas, who openly backed Trump during the real estate mogul’s Republican primary run.
  • Diehl, continuing the Patriots theme, chose a victorious music clip for his entrance. His campaign cued up Bon Jovi’s “This Is Our House,” a favorite of Belichick’s and the song that is blasted at Gillette Stadium to celebrate Patriots touchdowns, to introduce Diehl to the crowd. The three-minute-plus song wasn’t long enough for Diehl’s journey to the microphone, as the Whitman Republican made several stops along the way to share high-fives and handshakes with supporters (see video below).
  • Chris Villani of the Boston Herald caught up with Warren on Monday following an East Boston Neighborhood Health Center Tour and provided him with innocuous quotes when asked about Diehl’s campaign, at one point saying, “I am out here doing my job every single day,” in an apparent rejoinder to the Diehl campaign’s claims that Warren cares more about running for president in 2020 and selling copies of her new memoir than she does about representing the commonwealth’s best interests in Washington. As Diehl declared in his speech Tuesday night, “job number one for your U.S. senator should not be to hope that this administration [Trump’s] fails and with it the hopes and dreams of the people across this country who voted him in, and job number one for your U.S. senator should not be to just ask for reelection after doing nothing for four-and-a-half years, getting reelected so that she can run for president in 2020, that’s not the job of your U.S. senator.” 
  • Diehl also announced that famed — and unabashedly conservative — retired Red Sox ace Curt Schilling told him he is now backing Diehl, despite Schilling’s initial endorsement of Ayyadurai.  



Diehl’s entrance:

Speech — first segment:

Speech — final segment, with balloon drop:

Media scrum: