Diehl-Doughty Battle Pivots On Republican Divide

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2022/05/18/diehl-doughty-battle-pivots-on-republican-divide/

By Matt Murphy
State House News Service

There’s little doubt that Republican candidate for governor Geoff Diehl will walk out of the MassMutual Center in Springfield on Saturday the clear favorite among the party faithful.

The former state representative has stacked up a slew of endorsements from local Republican organizations and members of the Massachusetts Republican State Committee, as well as figures like former President Donald Trump, former state treasurer Joe Malone, and former party chairman Jim Rappaport.

But if there’s one group of Republicans where Diehl is weak, it’s Republican lawmakers on Beacon Hill, including many with whom he once served.

Diehl’s rival, Wrentham businessman Chris Doughty, announced 10 new endorsements on Tuesday, including current state representatives Todd Smola (R-Warren), Mathew Muratore (R-Plymouth), and Kim Ferguson (R-Holden), and former state representative Will Crocker (R-Centerville), who also served with Diehl.

Those current and past legislators joined current state representatives Donald Berthiaume (R-Spencer), Steve Howitt (R-Seekonk), Joe McKenna (R-Webster), Lenny Mirra (R-Georgetown), David Muradian (R-Grafton), Michael Soter (R-Bellingham), Peter Durant (R-Spencer), David Vieira (R-Falmouth), and Shawn Dooley (R-Wrentham) on Team Doughty, and the campaign says it has more legislative endorsements coming.

“We understand that this is an uphill battle to get our 15 percent with our opponent, his wife, campaign manager, and employer being on the State Committee that is running this convention. We are pleased that so many representatives want to run with Chris on the top of the ticket. They know that Chris can win in November with his message of affordability,” said Doughty campaign adviser Holly Robichaud, who once worked for Diehl.

Robichaud was referring to the percent of delegates whose support Doughty will need Saturday to qualify for the ballot in September.

By comparison, among current state legislators Diehl is backed only by state Representative Marc Lombardo, of Billerica. He also has the backing of former state representative Dan Winslow (R-Northampton) and Dean Tran (R-Fitchburg), a former state senator who overlapped briefly with Diehl and is now running for Congress.

Diehl campaign manager Amanda Orlando said that’s fine with them, describing Doughty as “in the establishment’s pocket.”

“It’s no surprise Chris Doughty has the support of RINO legislators who embrace a go-along-to-get-along relationship with liberal progressives to further their political careers. That’s the whole problem with Chris Doughty and his candidacy,” Orlando said. “That does a disservice to Bay Staters who are unhappy with the political status quo that gets our state nowhere.”

While Diehl’s camp views Doughty as too close with Beacon Hill Republican insiders who are allegedly too cozy with Democrats, Doughty is hoping to advance beyond the convention of party insiders to compete in the primary among the broader pool of registered Republican voters and independents who are eligible to vote in the GOP primary.

Party insiders say the rift within the MassGOP over chairman Jim Lyons’s stewardship of the party, its alienation of Governor Charlie Baker, and its rightward lurch toward Trumpism has soured many elected officials on Diehl, who is viewed as the beneficiary of favoritism from leaders of the party.

Muratore, a Plymouth Republican, said he gives Diehl credit for putting himself out there for higher office, including his 2018 campaign for U.S. Senate.

“But he hasn’t been successful and in Massachusetts you have to be able to attract folks from both sides of the aisle in order to win as a Republican,” Muratore told MASSterList. “I think Chris is a lot like the current governor, Gov. Baker. He’s a guy looking to work across the aisle and get things done. I’ve seen that’s a formula for success here in the commonwealth.”

As much as half of the GOP legislative caucus on Beacon Hill — currently only 31 strong in a 200-seat Legislature — is not expected to attend Saturday’s convention. Muratore said he’ll be in Florida for a wedding.

“Geoff’s been a friend and a good guy, but in order to have a chance of winning in November, I think Chris is the guy to do it,” Muratore said.


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