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Most Popular Governor Leaving Office After State Was Warned

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Republican Gov. Charlie Baker’s 69% approval rating puts him in a three-way tie for most popular governor in the country, according to Morning Consult, but he announced in December that he would not be running for a third term to instead focus on stewarding the Massachusetts economy out of the pandemic, NPR reported at the time.

Despite a popular outgoing GOP governor, Republicans in Massachusetts face an uphill battle to replace him with another conservative, but two candidates believe they’re up to the task.

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Though both potential Republican replacements — former state representative and U.S. Senate candidate Geoff Diehl and political newcomer and businessman Chris Doughty — are trailing Democratic nominee and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey by about 30 points in a recent Suffolk poll, they both told the Daily Caller News Foundation they’re not afraid of the challenge and that it’s critically important that a Republican end up in command in the state house come November.

Healey sued the Trump administration nearly 100 times as attorney general and has been accused of focusing on national culture wars rather than acting as a public servant for Massachusetts residents, according to WGBH, Boston’s local NPR channel.

Every time Healey engaged in these “politically motivated lawsuits,” Republican attorney Dan Shores said, meant “one more drug dealer who goes free, or one more public official who commits an act of corruption or one more senior who’s defrauded,” WBUR, another Boston-area NPR affiliate, reported.

U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling and the left-leaning Boston Globe editorial board have also criticized Healey for insufficiently prosecuting government corruption in the overwhelmingly Democratic state government, having never charged an elected official in the state, WGBH reported.

The Healey campaign did not respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.

“Massachusetts’ state legislature is among the most liberal in the nation, as is its judiciary, and Maura Healey would be one of the most liberal governors in the country,” Doughty told the DCNF. “Without a conservative check in the governor’s office, this would be San Francisco on steroids.”

“She’s a big-government ideologue that wants to take away the freedoms that our state was built on,” Diehl told the DCNF.

The two Republican candidates have differences.

The Donald Trump-aligned Diehl seems to be the frontrunner at the moment, with a poll conducted in late June showing him up 52% to Doughty’s 16% among Republicans, though the figures are six weeks old and Doughty says his campaign has kicked things up a gear since then.

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Diehl has more political experience; he won office as a state representative in 2010, and while unsuccessful, challenged Elizabeth Warren in 2018 for the U.S. Senate.

He says the experience helped him “build a really strong team across the state and, even though I didn’t beat Warren, I actually got more votes than the Democratic nominee for governor that cycle.”

Diehl lives in Whitman, Massachusetts, where he and his wife own a small performing arts business, and credentials in both private business and government make Diehl backers believe make him the best choice for governor.

Diehl’s status as a small business owner also gave him a unique vantage point on how COVID-19 restrictions were impacting business owners, and ultimately spurred him to announce his candidacy last summer even before Baker made it clear that he would not be seeking reelection.

“The pandemic exposed his administration for following too much of the Democratic playbook; we had to wait for arbitrary re-openings, kids weren’t going back to school,” Diehl told the DCNF, adding that “on day one we’d hire back any government workers that lost their jobs due to vaccine mandates, and on day two we’d fire anyone that thought that was a good idea.”

Challenging Baker — a Republican nemesis of Trump — helped Diehl earn the former president’s endorsement, and the Diehl campaign is composed of former Trump ringers, most notably Corey Lewandowski, who managed parts of Trump’s 2016 campaign.

But Doughty thinks these Trump connections make Diehl unelectable in New England. “He’s running an Alabama campaign in Massachusetts,” Doughty told the DCNF.

While signs point to Trump being popular in the Massachusetts GOP, Republicans make up a small percentage of registered voters in the state and the former president lost Massachusetts in 2020 by a margin of 2 to 1, according to WBUR.

Doughty, a businessman, and political newcomer believes that his pragmatism and business acumen make him the right fit for Massachusetts.

“I will run the state like I run my business. I will be very careful with money — we overtax and overspend in Massachusetts and it makes us non-competitive,” he told the DCNF while noting Diehl voted for more spending.

Doughty also promises to compromise with Democrats, holding a “uniting view of the world,” according to WBUR, which has drawn comparisons to other moderate Republicans who have found success in Massachusetts in the past like Baker and Mitt Romney, Daily Caller reports.

“Massachusetts’ state legislature is among the most liberal in the nation, as is its judiciary, and Maura Healey would be one of the most liberal governors in the country,” Doughty told the DCNF. “Without a conservative check in the governor’s office, this would be San Francisco on steroids.”

 

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