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Diehl, Allen secure party endorsement for September primary at MassGOP convention in Springfield

Geoff Diehl (at lectern) and Leah Cole Allen (in white dress) accepting the MassGOP's endorsement for governor and lieutenant governor respectively in the MassMutual Center on May 21st, 2022.
Josh Landes
Geoff Diehl (at lectern) and Leah Cole Allen (in white dress) accepting the MassGOP's endorsement for governor and lieutenant governor respectively in the MassMutual Center on May 21st, 2022.

Former State Representative Geoff Diehl won the Massachusetts Republican Party’s endorsement for governor at Saturday’s convention in Springfield.

In a roughly 70-30 split, Diehl won the party’s backing over his rival, businessman Chris Doughty, from the almost 1,200 votes cast.

Diehl unsuccessfully ran for U.S. Senate against incumbent Democrat Elizabeth Warren in 2018, and marks a distinct change in tone from Republican Gov. Charlie Baker, who is not seeking a third term. Diehl’s message to delegates at the MassMutual Center was one of paranoia and marginalization.

“You know once you step outside this arena what they're going to call you," he said. "They're going to call you deplorables, extremists, insurrectionist, even terrorists. But we know the truth tells a different story. We're Republicans, we're conservatives. We're proud citizens of Massachusetts, and we're patriotic Americans.”

While Baker built a powerful political machine in the commonwealth as a centrist later opposed to President Donald Trump, Diehl comes with Trump’s endorsement and a combative style.

“Progressives fear us, because we have the courage to stand by our convictions, and to fight against their great reset of our country," said Diehl. "And they know, they know governors are the last line of defense. And that's why they consider me to be their worst nightmare. I have the courage to look them in the eye and say no, Massachusetts should not be the testing ground for outrageous liberal experiments.”

Diehl told party members that it’s not a done deal that Democratic Attorney General Maura Healey – regarded as the front runner in the gubernatorial race – will win in November.

“No more taking away our freedoms," he said. "No more spending billions of dollars on crazy pet projects. No more closing businesses because of power hungry, abusive mandates. No more driver's licenses for illegal immigrants. No more putting masks on kids in schools and teaching our children to be ashamed to be Americans. No! And don't you dare try to undermine the integrity of our elections by trying to bring up mail-in ballots. No way.”

An April poll by Suffolk University and the Boston Globe showed both Healey and fellow Democratic gubernatorial hopeful State Senator Sonia Chang-Díaz beating Diehl in the general election by margins of 54 to 27 and 45 to 29 respectively.

Repeating a popular Republican talking point echoed by multiple convention speakers, Diehl swore he would end the teaching of the thinly defined critical race theory in public schools.

“We pledge always to have the backs of the people in blue along with all first responders, and we pledge to support our brave soldiers and veterans, and we pledge to take the National Guard off of school bus duty and send them to the southern border to stop the lawlessness and flow of deadly fentanyl into our country and into Massachusetts,” he said.

Diehl pledged to cut taxes and hold state government more accountable.

Diehl also promised to rehire all government employees who lost their jobs objecting to state vaccine mandates on his first day in office, and to fire everyone in the government behind the orders on his second day.

“These days, there's a price to pay for standing up for your beliefs when they're not in line with what the mainstream media and the establishment are trying to sell you," he said. "They call you names. They say you're racist, they kick you off social media, and they try to cancel you. It's a lonely battle. But it's worth it. It is so worth it. We are not going to give up, We are not going to give in. And the better days of Massachusetts are ahead of us, not behind us. Nobody is going to take our state away from us- Not now, not ever.”

Diehl’s running mate Leah Cole Allen served in the Massachusetts House from 2013 to 2015 before leaving to focus on her nursing career. After her maternity leave ended, she refused to get a COVID-19 vaccine mandated by her employer.

“Under the guise of the COVID pandemic, our elected officials overstepped their authority," she said. "The government told small businesses they had to close their doors with no concern for how they would survive. I promise you, as your next lieutenant governor, we will never do that. Because the government doesn't have a right to tell you that your business is not essential.”

Like Diehl, she framed the Massachusetts Republicans as the commonwealth’s last bulwark against progressive politics.

“It was here in Massachusetts that George Washington's ragtag band of Continentals with weapons they used to hunt squirrels and deer challenged 11,000 expertly trained infantry of the British Empire," said Allen. "And they used those weapons to hold this unbeatable army at bay until a 25-year-old could return from Fort Ticonderoga with the cannons that would later win that battle. As we stand here today, we are the firepower that will stand against the radical left.”

Doughty and his lieutenant governor running mate, former state representative Kate Campanale, both qualified for the September 6th ballot, where they will oppose Diehl and Allen without the party’s endorsement.

The general election is Nov. 8th.

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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