GOP Rivals In Massachusetts Governor’s Race Sharpen Tongues In Debate

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Republican candidates for governor clashed over experience, achievement, and approach during a debate on Wednesday.

The debate between Wrentham businessman Chris Doughty and former state representative Geoff Diehl took place over the radio on The Howie Carr Show on Wednesday, July 20. 

Diehl currently has a massive lead, according to a UMass Amherst poll published in June; it showed Diehl leading Doughty 55-18.

Both candidates accused each other of being unelectable. 

Doughty charged Diehl with “running a campaign that’s targeted to Alabama voters.” In his closing statement, Doughty called a vote for Geoff Diehl “a vote for Maura Healey.”

Diehl responded:  “Well, there’s your loyal Republican, coming in out of the blue and running for governor. When you lose, you’re going to be gone again, I’m sure.”

“A vote for Chris Doughty is going to be a vote for the next Democrat. I mean, Hillary Clinton is thinking about running again for President. In ‘16, you voted for her, maybe she’ll get your support if you’re governor,” Diehl added.

Doughty has said that he voted for Hillary Clinton for president in 2016 but for Donald Trump in 2020.

Doughty asserted that Diehl didn’t accomplish much while a member of the state legislature, contrary to what Diehl has said.

“He touts his experience in the legislature, but he never says that he didn’t accomplish anything in the legislature. He passed one home rule bill in 2012; he passed no other bills; he had no amendments at all in the legislature. And so, when you look at his record, he really didn’t accomplish anything,” Doughty said of Diehl in response to a question about the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority.

Doughty, in the same answer, also contended that Diehl doesn’t have what it takes to be governor because of his lack of support from Republican state representatives who once served with him in the Massachusetts Legislature.

“Every one of his colleagues in the Senate and in the House of Representatives, almost every one of them is endorsing me,” Doughty said. “Can you imagine if you left your job and almost every one of your colleagues that you worked with endorses the other guy?”

Diehl said Doughty doesn’t get Beacon Hill, where Republicans are so outnumbered by Democrats that they try to score victories on the margins.

“I think he needs to understand up on Beacon Hill, most Republicans get bills or amendments passed. They usually get folded into other bills that the Democrats pass. They don’t want to give Republicans any credit because we are a super-minority,” Diehl said.

Diehl said he had several accomplishments as a state representative, including a 2012 measure that would have required an ID to vote. Diehl admitted the measure didn’t pass but said that it was important to put Democrats on the record as opposing it.

Diehl also argued that part of the reason his Republican colleagues won’t endorse him is that in 2017 he sought term limits for House majority and minority leaders. “Some Republicans in my own caucus are not happy ‘cause I want to make sure there’s turnover and fresh ideas coming through,” Diehl said.

He added, “I didn’t serve to become friends with people on Beacon Hill, including Republicans. I served to work for the 40,000 people who elected me in 2010.”

Doughty and Diehl expressed agreement on certain issues. Both said the Covid lockdowns went on too long, causing problems for children in schools and for the economy. 

Diehl emphasized the need to rectify the consequences of mask and vaccine requirements, pledging to rehire any state employees whom current governor Charlie Baker, a Republican, fired for being unvaccinated.

“We lost workers because our governor was requiring the vaccine mandate,” Diehl said.

Diehl added:  “Masks on kids forever:  that was awful. And parents are so fed up with that. Forced vaccinations of kids:  they don’t want that for them. Forced vaccinations of state employees who were fired. I’m gonna hire back every single one of those fired state employees on day one, and on day two, I’m gonna make sure nobody is in my administration who thought that was a good idea.”

Doughty argued the best reason to vote for him is his experience as a businessman and his ability to contribute to the economy. 

He accused Massachusetts politicians of being fiscally irresponsible, asking, “How many people make significant decisions in their life, but they don’t look at the cost of doing it? Right now, in our State House, we do that all the time. We’ll pass a legislation, but no one will look at what does it cost to pass that legislation.”

The debate lasted about 45 minutes. It was sponsored by Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance.


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