Trump backs Geoff Diehl for Massachusetts governor a year ahead of GOP primary
Updated at 9:30 a.m. on 10/7/21
Former President Donald Trump gave his "Complete and Total Endorsement" to Geoff Diehl on Tuesday evening, staking out the former state representative and U.S. Senate candidate's turf as the Trump candidate in the 2022 contest for governor of Massachusetts.
"Geoff is strong on Crime, Election Integrity, our now under siege Southern Border, loves our Military, and has a big focus on taking care of our Vets. Geoff Diehl will be an outstanding Governor for the state of Massachusetts," Trump wrote in a statement released by Diehl's campaign.
The former president shared his support with Diehl, one of three Republicans to have filed papers to seek the party's nomination for governor next year, in a phone call, Diehl's camp said.
Though the note was an endorsement of Diehl, the first 60% of it was an attack against Gov. Charlie Baker, a Trump opponent who has not said whether he will be a candidate in next year's gubernatorial contest.
The former president said Baker "is definitely not an American First or Make America Great Again kind of guy."
Trump received 1,090,893 votes from Massachusetts (about 33%) in the 2016 general election and 1,167,202 votes in the 2020 general election (about 32%). He's never been wildly popular with Bay State Republican pols and especially not with Baker, who voiced support for removing Trump from office in January.
At a press conference Wednesday, Baker responded to the endorsement.
"In some respects, I’m not surprised for a whole bunch of reasons," Baker said, according to Politico. “But the bottom line is I’m really focused on Covid, focused on getting people back to work and focused on making sure that kids have the opportunity to go to school in person this year and trying to get us back to what I would describe as normal as fast as possible.”
A month ago, Baker said he "would certainly hope" for the support of the Republican Governors Association if he opts to seek a third term next year, but brushed aside talk of Trump getting involved on Diehl's behalf in a potential Republican primary.
"Look, that's so far down the road it's not even on my radar at this point in time," Baker told WBZ's Jon Keller at the time. "When I think about 2022, at this point my primary thoughts are about some of the stuff you and I talked about — putting the federal money to work in a way that can do good things for the people of Massachusetts, and continuing to be a fiscally disciplined state that generates a surplus and doesn't spend more than it brings in, which is what we've been doing, and getting as many of those people are still on the sidelines back to work."
Meanwhile, a western Massachusetts GOP official said the Trump endorsement is a major win for Diehl's campaign.
"Geoff's a great guy. I think President Trump aligns with Geoff's philosophy for conservatism, and I think a lot of people are excited about former President Trump endorsing Geoff," said Sid Starks of East Longmeadow. It should be a big boost for him as he goes into the state [GOP] convention next year and into the primaries."
Starks serves on the Republican State Committee with Diehl. Starks also called Baker "a great guy," while noting he has yet to announce his intentions for 2022.
This report contains information from Colin A. Young of State House News Service and NEPM's Kari Njiiri.