Boston Globe As Arbiter of Republicanism? Not the Real Diehl

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Is there anything odder than The Boston Globe criticizing a Republican candidate for not being Republican enough?

That’s where Geoff Diehl finds himself today. The Republican state representative from Whitman running for U.S. Senate was outed Wednesday as having been a registered Democrat from 1996 through at least 2008.

This supposedly “could potentially undercut his support among delegates to the state Republican convention next month,” according to the Globe reporter who broke the story, Frank Phillips.


How many right-of-center voters in Massachusetts were once registered Democrats? How many of them have parents and yet-more-distant ancestors who were registered Democrats?

As the Democratic Party has moved from center-left to just-plain-left, many voters who have clung to the party label for tribal or sentimental reasons have left it in their hearts and (often) in their general-election voting habits.

The Globe story treats Diehl’s campaign adviser’s answers as implausible – that Diehl voted for the least-left-wing candidates in Democratic primaries and then voted for the Republican in the general election. Yet that’s a common tactic among conservatives and centrists in this state. It helps explain why a plurality of voters are registered neither as Republicans nor Democrats, but rather as unenrolled — as was John Kingston, who also is seeking the GOP nod for U.S. Senate, until after the 2016 election.

Registering as unenrolled lets voters pick the primary that has the most action. In Massachusetts, the action is often in the Democratic primary, which typically has more candidates. Not everyone who votes in a Democratic primary is a liberal.

It’s not hard to see where this Diehl story came from. Beth Lindstrom, who’s also running for the seat now held by Elizabeth Warren, jumped on it right away, issuing multiple quotable lines about it. Wethinks that Lindstrom knew about Diehl’s past voting record before the Globe did.

Among the quotable phrases, Lindstrom called Diehl’s former Democratic affiliation “a kick in the gut” to loyal Republicans.

Possibly.  But then, given the dysfunctional nature of the Republican Party in Massachusetts, that’s one gut that occasionally needs to be kicked.

Now:  There’s nothing wrong with Lindstrom’s campaign laying some opposition research on a political reporter. (Hint:  We’re open for business, too).

But there’s also nothing wrong with once having voted in one party’s primaries before joining another.

Delegates thinking about a candidate to support at the Republican state convention should be considering issues, experience, and character – and not spend much time pondering how outwardly loyal a candidate has been to the elephant label.