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Mass. Republicans will convene Saturday in Springfield to pick statewide nominees for the fall

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The Massachusetts Republican Party holds its nominating convention in Springfield, Massachusetts Saturday ahead of the fall election.

Republicans are decidedly in the minority in Massachusetts statehouse. Party members hold just 28 of 160 seats in the House and just three of 40 in the Senate. With an entirely Democratic federal delegation, the party’s main real estate is the governor’s office. Now that Charlie Baker – a two-term centrist – is not standing for re-election, Massachusetts Republicans could be moving right as they try to hold the seat.

Popular Democratic Attorney General Maura Healey looks poised to secure her party’s nomination for governor at their convention next month, and is the current frontrunner to succeed Baker. Starting at 9 a.m. Saturday in the MassMutual Center, state Republicans will hash out who will receive the party’s blessing in the September 6th primary.

The gubernatorial race is between businessman Chris Doughty and former State Representative Geoff Diehl, who lost a 2018 election to Senator Elizabeth Warren.

“Bringing some common sense, pragmatic, kind of free market ideas to the discussions about affordability, the reduction of regulations and other things that we've done in our state over the course of time that have just raised the cost of living here,” said Doughty, speaking with WAMC in January. “I think we have to let the free market and the reduction in regulation start bringing down costs. You know, there's a lot of other states that we can look to that are doing things that are more long term and quicker in reducing the cost of living in their areas that we can apply here in Massachusetts.”

Doughty says he’s hoping the state’s tradition of electing a disproportionate number of Republican governors holds this year.

“I think it's part of the miracle of Massachusetts is that we have consistently elected Republican, fiscally conservative governors as a offset to the spending initiatives that come from the legislature,” he said.

His main rival is hoping his pitch to Massachusetts voters will transcend party lines.

“I think we're living at a time right now where it's not so much Democrat or Republican as it is sort of big government taking a very intrusive roll over we the people. And, you know, the pandemic really brought that out in a big way. We saw government shut down businesses, education sort of shut down overnight in 2020 and then ‘21 was a tough year with a hybrid model,” said Diehl.

He enters the convention with the endorsement of President Donald Trump, who is popular with the party base but secured less than a third of the state’s vote in his 2020 re-election bid against Joe Biden.

“The trade deals that we had with other countries wasn't necessarily working for us,” Diehl told WAMC. “Energy costs in our state, in our country, were out of line. So he was talking about making sure we were energy independent. I thought that was fantastic. He was talking about bringing soldiers back from endless wars overseas that they didn't need to be in, and, you know, not serving the American, you know, political or national interest.”

An April Suffolk University/Boston Globe poll showed both candidates faring poorly against Healey in the general election: she led 55 to 25 percent against Doughty and 54 to 27 percent against Diehl.

With incumbent Karyn Polito joining Baker in heading for the exits, each Republican gubernatorial hopeful has announced the lieutenant governor candidates who round out their tickets: State Representative Kate Campanale is with Doughty while former State Representative Leah Cole Allen is running with Diehl.

Republican candidates for those and other statewide offices like Attorney General, Secretary of the Commonwealth, Treasurer, and Auditor will compete to secure 15% of the vote from party delegates at the convention to make it onto the September 6th primary ballot.

Neither Baker – who received a rough reception from Trump loyalists at the 2018 event – nor Polito will attend.

Speakers include Florida Congressman Byron Donalds, former Acting Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Fox News commentator Tom Homan, and anti-abortion activist David Bereit.

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