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Berkshire County Republican delegates “inspired” at MassGOP convention

The scene inside the MassGOP convention at the MassMutual Center in Springfield, Massachusetts on Saturday, May 21st, 2022.
Josh Landes
The scene inside the MassGOP convention at the MassMutual Center in Springfield, Massachusetts on Saturday, May 21st, 2022.

Berkshire County residents were among the 1,200 delegates deciding which Republican candidates the Massachusetts GOP would endorse at the state convention in Springfield Saturday.

WAMC caught up with two delegates from Dalton on the floor of the MassMutual Center Saturday after Geoff Diehl and Leah Cole Allen secured the Republican endorsement for governor and lieutenant governor.

“I feel like we're inspired. I really felt that today. I thought the speakers were inspiring. They were upbeat, and I think we as a party are really excited to move forward," said Sylvia Smith. “Most important issues always is smaller government and lowering taxes. That's always right up there.”

This was Smith’s first time serving as a delegate for the Massachusetts Republican Party.

“Oh, gosh," she laughed. "I said, I want to run for office now! It's exciting. They're so inspiring. And I thought Jim McMahon, Jay McMahon – yes, that's his name – I thought he was absolutely fun. Fabulous, a great candidate. What's her name too- Rayla. She also was very fun to watch, because she's so enthusiastic.”

McMahon is running for Attorney General and Rayla Campbell for Secretary of State.

Smith, who was wearing Diehl campaign attire, says she’s happy to see the Trump-endorsed candidate ascend to the top of the party ticket.

“I like Geoff, I think he's great, I think he's enthusiastic," she told WAMC. "I like Trump. The fact that Trump endorsed Geoff is great, but it wouldn't have made a difference whether I would be supporting Geoff. I still would support Geoff as a Republican.”

While recent polling shows that Diehl has a long road to hoe against Democrats in the November general election, Smith exuded confidence.

“I think we are ready for a strong conservative in Massachusetts and someone who's exciting and really as committed like Geoff is,” she said.

Diehl got the endorsement for September’s primary over businessman Chris Doughty.

Republican Governor Charlie Baker is not seeking a third term.

Kathy Mickle said that despite the Berkshires’ deep blue reputation, there are more Republicans there than most people imagine.

“It’s always wonderful to be with like-minded people to be free of trying to figure out what you should and shouldn't say,” she told WAMC.

Mickle said her two biggest issues are lower taxes and more freedom.

“A lot of them are national issues," she said. "But for locally, for Dalton itself is, we just need to watch our schools, find out what's going on there. Be very aware.”

Mickle is concerned about the college-level topic critical race theory being taught in K-12 schools, a theme speakers at the convention reiterated time and time again. She was happy with the event’s staunchly anti-abortion messaging, from a speech by activist David Bereit to the pins issued to delegates at the registration desks that bear a star-spangled fetus and the phrase “protect the unborn.”

Josh Landes
A "protect the unborn" pin distributed to Massachusetts Republican delegates at their May 21st, 2022 state convention in Springfield, MA.

“That's a hill I'll die on, is pro-life," said Mickle. "I promised myself that I would speak for the unborn, for the most vulnerable of our civilization. They have no voice.”

WAMC asked her about her reaction to the recently leaked Supreme Court draft decision that would revoke federal protections to abortion access.

“I'm excited about it," said Mickle. "But the other side of that is it doesn't change anything. It just takes it out of the unelected judiciary and puts it back where it belongs, in the states. It was a poor decision in the beginning and always should have been in the states’ control. So all this decision will do is to take it out of that venue and put it into the state control. And people- They're hysterical about it, and it won't change anything. We need to change it on the state level.”

Massachusetts holds its party primaries on September 6th and the general election on November 8th. Democrats gather for their convention the first weekend in June.

Josh Landes has been WAMC's Berkshire Bureau Chief since February 2018, following stints at WBGO Newark and WFMU East Orange. A passionate advocate for Western Massachusetts, Landes was raised in Pittsfield and attended Hampshire College in Amherst, receiving his bachelor's in Ethnomusicology and Radio Production. His free time is spent with his cat Harry, experimental electronic music, and exploring the woods.
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