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Republicans Make Campaign Stops In Deep Blue Berkshires

Two candidates made campaign stops in Berkshire County Friday at a planning session for the region's Republican Party.

Berkshire County Republican Association Chair Tyler Hastings says he had three main takeaways from the party’s planning session in Pittsfield: the region is in dire need of better infrastructure funding, incentives to attract businesses and economic development growth, and a feasible healthcare and law enforcement strategy to curb the opioid epidemic.

“The main thing we look for is, somebody who is actually going to pay attention to this region,” Hastings says. “That’s a big problem.”

Acknowledging the hold Democrats have on regional and state politics, Hastings says he thinks State Representative Geoff Diehl, a Whitman Republican, and attorney Jay McMahon have a real chance of winning higher office in November.

“One-party rule is a problem no matter what party it is,” Hastings says. “Because what that enviably leads to is no accountability.”

Diehl is hoping to win the nomination to run against Democratic U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren.       

“I have a track record up on Beacon Hill of working to protect taxpayers with the repeal in 2014 of the index gas tax where we were able to save taxpayers about $2 billion stopping that gas tax from going up automatically every year without a vote,” Diehl says, “and especially here in western Massachusetts where you have a gas tax that 50 percent of it was going to the [Massachusetts Bay Transportation Association], which doesn’t really benefit this area.”

Diehl touts his role in trying to block the use of taxpayer dollars for Boston’s short-lived bid for the 2024 Summer Olympics. Diehl served as co-chair of President Trump’s Massachusetts campaign, and says that relationship could benefit the state.

“I know that I will have a relationship with the White House as well as the members of Congress who currently control the House and Senate, and is going to benefit Massachusetts financially, which I think is the goal in the long run. It’s been really tough to see that western Massachusetts doesn’t get the attention that eastern Mass. gets.”

Diehl says he would work to attract federal dollars to strengthen broadband and transportation infrastructure in Berkshire County, develop strategies on how to regulate banking for the recreational marijuana industry, and promote employment.

Other Republicans in the Senate race include John Kingston, a Winchester businessman; Beth Lindstrom, former Director of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation under Governor Mitt Romney; Darius Mitchell, of Lowell; and Heidi Wellman, of Braintree.

Shiva Ayyadurai, a Cambridge entrepreneur, and Allen Waters, a Mashpee financial consultant, are running as Independents.

Warren is seen by most prognosticators as likely to be reelected, and is often mentioned as a possible presidential candidate. But Diehl says he sees an opening.

“Right now, we’ve got a U.S. Senator who is up for re-election in 2018 who has been one of the main obstructionists down in Washington D.C. to everything that seems to be, being put forward to try to help Americans,” Diehl says. “You need to have somebody who is going to have a seat at the table in Washington D.C. Elizabeth Warren – by what she does, about trying to block every single thing that the administration is doing means we are doomed to have no seat at the table.”

Senator Warren spoke at a July town hall in Pittsfield.

“The Republicans are determined to take us in a direction that says there is just one message here: America works for those at the top, and the U.S. government is here to serve those at the top,” Warren said.

Attorney Jay McMahon is looking to challenge first-term Democratic Attorney General Maura Healey. McMahon claims that there’s a lot of public corruption in Massachusetts.

“We are not seeing any action from the attorney general’s office, we are seeing it all from the feds,” McMahon says. “I know she likes to sue Trump at any moment – it doesn’t make any difference whether if it’s good or for bad, doesn’t make any difference what the issue Trump’s going [with] – she sues him at every turn that she can.”

McMahon is a staunch defender of the Second Amendment, claiming Healey’s 2016 ban on “copycat” assault rifle sales and possession was a political stunt to gain favor with then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

“She did it one week before the Democratic National Convention down in Philadelphia,” McMahon says. “She went there with a distinct purpose of knowing and telling Hillary, that Hillary: ‘You are going to be the next president of the United States and everybody knows it. You’re going to need a United States Attorney General and you are going to need a gun grabber just like me.’”

Healey’s campaign committee did not respond to a request for comment Monday.

McMahon says he stands for public safety.

“My first and primary issue though is the opiate crisis. It’s [because] I have lost my son to opiates,” McMahon says. “So, we can do something positive about the opiate crisis. We can actually defeat it.”

McMahon calls current state-mandated rehabilitation treatment programs deplorable.

“The only thing that I am suspicious of is that there must be money in losing,” McMahon says. “Why would our programs be 99 percent failure all the time? There is a problem there and I am going to change that.”

Another Cape Cod attorney, Dan Shores, is also vying for the Republican nomination for state attorney general.

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