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Republicans hoping to retain the governorship in November in the blue state of Massachusetts are choosing between a former state lawmaker backed by former President Trump and a more centrist businessman in the GOP gubernatorial primary of Tuesday.
In the battle to succeed wildly popular two-term Republican Governor Charlie Baker — who opted not to run for re-election — Trump is backing former state Rep. Geoff Diehl, who strongly backs the government’s unproven claims. former president that the 2020 election was “rigged” and “stolen”.
“Geoff is a proven fighter who successfully fends off ultra-liberal extremists,” Trump said, praising Diehl during a tele-rally on the eve of the primaries.
“He will rule your state with an iron fist and he will do what needs to be done,” the former president added.
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Diehl, who lost to Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren by nearly 25 points in the 2018 Senate election, takes on Chris Doughty, a Harvard Business School graduate and first-time candidate who largely self-funds his own campaign.
“I’m a job creator, and that’s a big part of what a governor does…to help the economy grow and to make sure everyone doesn’t just have jobs, but good ones. jobs,” Doughty told reporters Tuesday as he cast his ballot.
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Doughty is backed by more moderate and mainstream Republicans, including GOP Gov. Chris Sununu of neighboring New Hampshire, who argues Doughty has the best chance of winning in November. Howie Carr, a popular conservative radio talk show host and long-time Trump supporter, made the same point about eligibility when recently endorsing Doughty.
Baker, who has long been a critic of Trump, remained neutral in the GOP governor’s primary.
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Earlier this year, Diehl won Republican approval by capturing nearly three-quarters of the state party’s convention delegates. However, he would likely face a major challenge in the general election, in a state where Trump garnered less than a third of the vote in the 2020 presidential race.
The winner of the GOP nomination will face two-term Attorney General Maura Healey, who is running uncontested in the Democratic gubernatorial primary. If she wins in November, Healey would become Massachusetts’ first elected female governor and the state’s first openly gay chief executive.
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Trump, who remains the most popular and influential politician in the GOP as he continues to play kingmaker role in the party’s primaries and repeatedly teases a 2024 presidential election, suffered gubernatorial losses high-profile early in this year’s primary season as the candidates he backed were defeated in Idaho, Nebraska and Georgia, where conservative GOP Governor Brian Kemp demolished former Sen. David Perdue , backed by Trump.
However, Trump has been on a roll this summer, with gubernatorial candidates he endorsed and backed winning hotly contested GOP primaries in Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Arizona and Wisconsin.