Trump-backed candidate Geoff Diehl wins Republican governor’s nomination over moderate Doughty

Diehl will face Democrat Maura Healey in the November general election.

Chris Doughty, left, and Geoff Diehl, right. John Tlumacki, Globe Staff / Steven Senne, AP Photo

Trump endorsee and former state lawmaker Geoff Diehl beat out businessman and moderate Chris Doughty for the Republican nomination for Massachusetts governor Tuesday night.

By 10 p.m., the Associated Press called the race for Diehl, who had already garnered 56% of the vote, while Doughty had 44%.

“For the first time in our state’s history, we are gonna run a campaign that is focused specifically on ‘We the people,'” Diehl said during his victory speech Tuesday night. “Our freedoms, our rights, and our prosperity.”

Diehl will now face an uphill battle come November in a state former President Donald Trump twice lost by about 30 points. Diehl’s opponent is Democratic giant and current state Attorney General Maura Healey.


Healey’s campaign released a statement on Diehl’s win Tuesday night:

“Voters now know what their choice will be in this election. Geoff Diehl wants to bring Trumpism to Massachusetts. He has embraced the Trump playbook of anger and extremism, and he opposes a woman’s right to abortion access and reproductive health care. Massachusetts can not afford the extremism of Geoff Diehl.”

Diehl fought back during his victory speech, saying Healey would make Massachusetts more restrictive, more expensive, and would raise taxes.

“This is a race for the future of the Commonwealth, and it’s very clear the choice that we’re gonna have: our campaign, which is focused on freedom and prosperity, and Maura Healey, who will put big government over individual freedom,” he said.

Given former President Donald Trump’s full-throated endorsement of Diehl, the race to become the Republican gubernatorial candidate in Massachusetts has been called a litmus test for whether Massachusetts republicans will further embrace Trumpism.

While Diehl was the favorite to win, it was not a sure bet that he would come out victorious over Doughty Tuesday night.

A poll from Aug. 25 found that while 42% of republicans said they’d vote for Diehl and 27% say they’d vote for Doughty, 31% were still undecided.


In recent days, Trump doubled down on his support for Diehl, who also garnered the state Republican Party’s endorsement.

The night before the primary, Diehl held a “tele-rally” during which the former president called Doughty a RINO [Republican in Name Only] and criticized Republican Gov. Charlie Baker.

“The hardworking people of Massachusetts need a true conservative in the governor’s mansion — it’s about time you had one,” Trump said. 

Diehl’s campaign had also been broadcasting Trump’s praise of Diehl, tweeting graphics with quotes from the former president about Diehl.

Meanwhile, Doughty went in the opposite direction, calling for compromise in the state and arguing that he will have a better shot against Healey in November because he is more moderate.

“We need to work towards the middle, we need to unite people,” Doughty told 7News Monday, also telling WCVB, “I think in Massachusetts, [Trump’s endorsement] doesn’t have much weight at all.”

State Primary

The two candidates showed some important differences during their primary campaigns.

While Diehl, who was Trump’s campaign co-chair for Massachusetts in 2016, has embraced Trump’s false claims of a stolen election, Doughty has said he believes President Joe Biden was legitimately elected.


Additionally, while Diehl has opposed COVID-19 safety measures and praised the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade, Doughty has focused on issues like the rising cost of living in Massachusetts and said he is “pro-life” but accepts the state’s support for abortion.

But the two candidates have not sparred face to face much during their campaigns. While they did participate in a debate back in July, Diehl declined to debate Doughty again in August.

Here are Boston.com’s interviews with and questionnaires for Doughty and Diehl.


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