Politics

Diehl says vote gap is ‘impossible to close,’ concedes to Healey

The race was called in Maura Healey's favor shortly after 8 p.m. Tuesday.

Candidate Geoff Diehl for Massachusetts governor on the campaign trail in Taunton. David L. Ryan/Boston Globe

On Tuesday evening, about three hours after the Associated Press projected that Democrat Maura Healey will defeat Republican Geoff Diehl in the Massachusetts gubernatorial race, Diehl conceded the race.

Diehl, a former state representative who garnered an endorsement from Donald Trump, told those gathered at Boston Harbor Hotel that he had called Healey to congratulate her on the victory.

Diehl said the gap between his votes and Healey’s was “impossible to close,” The Boston Globe reported.

Healey declared victory earlier in the night, telling her supporters at the Fairmont Copley Plaza hotel that she would work with anyone “who’s up for making a difference in this state.”

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“I want you to know I understand what you feel. I understand where you are, and I’m going to do everything in my power to help you because we’re all in this together,” she said.

Diehl’s concession was not a given earlier in the night. Campaign Manager Amanda Orlando, speaking to a crowd at Boston Harbor Hotel around 9 p.m., said that the AP’s projections were “irresponsible” and “extremely premature.”

“Today we’ve had a tremendous amount of people report to us across the state from our grassroots organization… that turnout in certain areas of the state which we believe is favorable to us was extremely heavy today,” Orlando said. “We’re going to wait until those vote results come in.”

Orlando added that, at the time she was speaking, 95% of the ballots across the state still needed to be counted. The Diehl campaign would hold off on further announcements until they had a “meaningful result” to report.

The AP called the race right after polls closed at 8 p.m. The news organization outlined how it makes election calls in a detailed article last week.

At around 8:30 p.m., 1A Auto Parts Chief Executive and campaign surrogate Rick Green told Diehl supporters “what you see on your TVs is nothing more than a projection of the mainstream media,” MassLive reported.

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Diehl ran on a platform of fiscal discipline, cracking down on crime, and empowering parents to give them more say regarding what their children learn in school. 

Healey led Diehl by a comfortable margin throughout the race, maintaining a lead of about 25 percentage points throughout September and October. Still, his supporters held onto hope down the home stretch, telling reporters that he stood a good chance of beating Healey if the election was fair. 

Diehl closely aligned his campaign with the sect of Republicans loyal to Trump and their unfounded claims that the 2020 election was “stolen.” When asked by The New York Times in September if Diehl would agree to the outcome of the November election, a spokesperson replied “no comment.” Diehl later clarified that he would “absolutely” accept the election results, but added that “it’s okay to question elections.”

Diehl was widely viewed as the more conservative candidate in his primary race with businessman Chris Doughty. Diehl served as co-chair for Trump’s presidential campaign in Massachusetts in 2016. In endorsing Diehl this year, Trump told voters that he would “rule your state with an iron fist, and he’ll do what has to be done.”

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Healey, who now becomes the first openly gay person and the first woman elected governor, had much more money to run her campaign. A recent campaign finance report showed that Diehl’s campaign had $89,000 to work with, or about one-fortieth of the funds available to Healey, the Globe reported. 

The two candidates drew stark distinctions between themselves on the campaign trail, notably offering different perspectives on ballot question 1, which asked voters to decide if the state should impose extra taxes on high-earners. Diehl said he would vote against the tax, arguing during the first debate with Healey that the so-called “millionaires tax” would drive out people and businesses from the state. 

Healey and Diehl also differed on ballot question 4, which centered on whether or not unauthorized immigrants should be allowed to obtain Massachusetts driver’s licenses. Healey supported the law, arguing that many other states have similar laws and that it would improve public safety. Diehl called it “a Band-Aid to the real problem, which is immigration law,” according to WBUR

Another major part of Diehl’s message to voters was based on COVID-19 vaccine mandates. Diehl said he would immediately rehire all state workers who were fired because they refused to get vaccinated. When Gov. Charlie Baker offered reinstatement to some workers who had lost their jobs due to vaccine mandates last month, Diehl applauded the move. However, he continued to push for workers, particularly first responders, to be offered their jobs back. 

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In a recent interview with Boston.com, Diehl described himself as a “libertarian Republican” who values individual freedom and individual choice.

“I want you to be economically free from over taxation, educationally free to choose the best schools for your children, and individually free to make your own life and health care choices,” he said.

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