Massachusetts primary election: Republicans wait to see who will face Maura Healey in the race for governor

Despite its liberal reputation, Massachusetts has a long tradition of electing Republican governors – Deval Patrickwho has served two terms, is the only Democrat to hold the corner post on Beacon Hill since Michael Dukakis left him in 1991 – and Baker, even in this era of acute partisan divisions, is regularly questioned as one of the country’s most popular heads of state.
His departure, in the face of intra-party opposition for his criticism of former President Donald Trump and the prospect of a primary challenge, paved the way for former state Rep. Geoff Diehl to claim frontrunner status for the GOP nomination. Diehl is Trump’s pick in a primary with businessman Chris Doughty, who, despite being complimentary of the former president, has argued that his political brand is toxic in the Bay state and that a statewide candidate like Diehl would be doomed to defeat in the general election.
In his endorsement of Diehl last year, Trump mostly railed against Baker — who had yet to announce he would not run — denouncing the governor as a “RINO,” or Republican in name only, and saying his views on climate policy were “fresh out of the AOC playbook”, a reference to the progressive representative from New York. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

“Geoff Diehl, on the other hand, is a true patriot, a proponent of low energy costs and our independent energy policy,” Trump said.

But Diehl, if he wins the nomination on Tuesday, would be a heavy underdog in the general election. State Attorney General Maura Healey will win the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, CNN projects, setting her up to potentially become the state’s first lesbian governor. Healey, after months of weighing his options, entered the open-seat race less than two months after Baker stepped down.
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Healey’s announcement at the end of January cleared the field of previously declared Democratic candidates. Her fundraising prowess and national stature, honed during Trump’s presidency when she often challenged his administration in court, made her a household name among Commonwealth Democrats who thought she represented the party’s best chance of unseating Baker.
In addition to the top of the Democratic ticket, the party’s delegation to Congress is practically settled after recent rounds of upheaval. None of the nine members of the all-Democratic US delegation from Massachusetts faces a primary challenger this year.

So much of Tuesday’s intrigue will come from a pair of primaries that might not have been close — or even contested, in one case — had Baker sought a third term.

On the Republican side, Diehl is stuck in an increasingly contentious contest with Doughty, who has argued he represents the GOP’s best chance of defeating Healey in November. (Diehl has state party approval, but Doughty got enough delegates at his May convention to vote.)

Doughty – who said he voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016 and Trump in 2020 – received a late nudge from influential conservative radio host Howie Carr, who, echoing the candidate’s eligibility argument, supported Doughty on Diehl.

Meanwhile, Diehl and Leah Allen, his allied nominee for lieutenant governor, hosted a tele-rally with Trump on Monday night.

The Boston Globe Editorial Boardthough far from an influential voice with Republican primary voters, pleaded with them (and eligible independents) to choose Doughty and begin a “party reset”.

“This process will take years, but voters can jump-start it by choosing Doughty, a quiet voice for more pragmatic conservatism, over Diehl, a staunch sidekick to former President Donald Trump,” the council wrote.

Diehl turned down a televised debate with Doughty (they debated on Carr’s radio show in July), so WBZ in Boston last week hosted a “virtual debate— conduct separate interviews, back to back, and then edit parts of them together.

“He’s too extreme for our state, he pursues conspiracy theories, he has beliefs that are just not compatible with the state of Massachusetts,” Doughty said of Diehl. “That makes him ineligible.”

Diehl avoided the assertion when asked about it, focusing on the GOP’s spring primary and convention.

“So far he’s got a 0 and 1 record,” Diehl said. “At the convention, I think I beat him 71%-29%. So that claim, of course, will come from any challenger.”

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The most competitive high-level Democratic primary on Tuesday is the nomination to succeed Healey as state attorney general, which pits the former Boston City Council speaker against Andrea Campbell — the first black woman to hold the office and, if she becomes AG, the first black woman to be elected statewide — against labor lawyer Shannon Liss-Riordan. (NAACP Boston Branch President Tanisha Sullivan, a black woman challenging Secretary of State William Galvin in the Democratic primary, is also up for history.)

Healey, who backed Campbell, wavered for her as the primary approached. US Representative Ayanna Pressley also supports Campbell and pleaded her case at a rally with signs for the three women behind them.

“We need a bold, fierce, visionary and inclusive leader like Andrea Campbell,” Pressley said. “People deserve it. The moment demands it. And that’s what the job demands.”

Voters were belatedly thrown when a third candidate, attorney Quentin Palfrey, dropped out last week and endorsed Campbell, joining Healey, Pressley and U.S. Sen. Ed Markey in a race that has divided leading government progressives. State. (Palfrey was an active candidate when early voting began, and his name remains on the ballot.)

Liss-Riordan has the support of Senator Elizabeth Warren, Mayor of Boston Michelle Wu and former Boston acting mayor Kim Janey, all three of whom feature prominently in his closing ad.

“Shannon Liss-Riordan is the progressive champion Massachusetts needs as the next attorney general,” Warren said when announcing her endorsement late last month. “I know firsthand how Shannon fights back and wins against corporations and special interests that take advantage of working families.”

The winner will face Republican attorney James McMahon, the losing 2018 nominee to Healey, who runs unopposed on Tuesday.

This story and title have been updated with additional developments.

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