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Boston Herald: Trump Reportedly Eager to Back GOP Primary Challenger in Massachusetts
Yesterday, the Boston Herald reported that Donald Trump told Massachusetts GOP Chairman Jim Lyons he’s inclined to back former state representative Geoff Diehl in what could be a divisive and bruising Republican primary if Charlie Baker decides to run again.
Lyons said: “I believe that President Trump would travel to Massachusetts to help somebody who’s running for governor that stands for the things that we’re talking about and Geoff Diehl’s name came up. The president brought it up.”
This comes as Charlie Baker is set for an increasingly difficult re-election if he decides to run, given his sinking approval and fundraising that is a “mere fraction of what he raised in the runup to his 2018 re-election.” A columnist with the Boston Herald recently wrote: “Baker has alienated so many Republicans … he’s made himself vulnerable in a likely small-turnout GOP primary.”
“Along with his continued anemic fundraising, this report is more proof that Gov. Charlie Baker is in for a brutal primary that will leave his party even more divided if he decides to run for reelection,” said DGA Deputy Communications Director Sam Newton. “While Baker may be taking his time, the rest of his party isn’t waiting — making a change in leadership increasingly more likely.”
Read the full report below:
MassGOP Chairman Jim Lyons met on the links with Donald Trump where the former president told him he’s “no fan” of Gov. Charlie Baker and that he’d be inclined to back Geoff Diehl if the two square off in a Republican primary next year.
“I believe that President Trump would travel to Massachusetts to help somebody who’s running for governor that stands for the things that we’re talking about and Geoff Diehl’s name came up. The president brought it up,” Lyons said during a segment on the Howie Carr radio show on Thursday shortly after meeting at Trump’s West Chester, New York golf course.
Diehl, who co-chaired Trump’s 2016 Massachusetts campaign, was the first Republican legislator to publicly back the former president and remains an ally.
“I was proud of the accomplishments he achieved during his time in office. To have his support in my campaign for Governor shows that the former President cares about the future of Massachusetts and sees me as a key part of that future,” Diehl said in a statement to the Herald.
Trump’s office did not immediately respond to the Herald on Thursday.
As MassGOP chairman, Lyons is barred from endorsing candidates in the Republican primary. But Lyons said “there’s no question in my mind” Trump would support Diehl, saying the former president “likes what he stands for.”
Diehl has come out hard against mail-in voting, calling on Baker to conduct a forensic audit of last year’s election and he’s also thrown his support behind a ballot initiative that would require voter ID at Massachusetts polls — two top issues for Trump.
Trump-aligned candidates for state offices haven’t fared so well in recent elections in staunchly blue Massachusetts, election results show.
Baker, a Republican who remains one of the nation’s most popular governors, has yet to announce his re-election plans. Some are speculating he is dragging his feet to cut down his tenure as a lame-duck governor. His fundraising hauls are a mere fraction of what he raised in the runup to his 2018 re-election. In July 2017 he raised more than three times the $57,907 he raised last month.
Diehl has branded himself as the conservative counterweight in the Democrat-heavy candidate field. State Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz, former state Sen. Ben Downing and Harvard professor and political adviser Danielle Allen, all Democrats, have announced their 2022 bids. Democratic Attorney General Maura Healey is also widely thought to be considering a run.
Lyons said Trump “got wind” of the ongoing state Republican Party antics over Lyons’ refusal to call for the resignation of a Catholic committeewoman who made homophobic statements about a gay Republican congressional candidate leading many party members to call on Lyons himself to resign.
“The president made it clear to me that he’s going to help the party up here in Massachusetts. … We want to make a party in Massachusetts that actually stands for something,” Lyons said of the Republican State Committee, which currently represents just 10% of registered voters. “(Trump) was 100% supportive.”