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What the GOP candidates for Mass. governor said then, and how it’s going now

Republican candidates for Massachusetts governor: former state Rep. Geoff Diehl, at left, and businessman Chris Doughty.
GBH News
Republican candidates for Massachusetts governor: former state Rep. Geoff Diehl, at left, and businessman Chris Doughty.

As the 2022 debate series continues on GBH's Greater Boston, two key candidates remain missing in action.

The Republican candidates for governor — businessman Chris Doughty and former state representative Geoff Diehl — will not be making an appearance.

Doughty agreed to the debate, Diehl did not.

On Tuesday, Jim Braude and host of GBH’s Talking Politics Adam Reilly revisited interviews both candidates did at the onset of their campaigns, highlighting what they said then and how they’re campaigning now.

When Diehl appeared on Greater Boston in July 2021, he addressed his support for President Donald Trump but stressed the need to move beyond the 2020 election. During that interview, Diehl denied claims the election had been stolen. But he reversed that stance less than two months later, saying in an October 2021 statement “that the 2020 election was rigged.”

As Diehl shifted rightward, Reilly pointed to Doughty entering the race as a potential catalyst, pushing Diehl to not just focus on courting the Mass GOP conservative base but to also neglecting outreach to moderates with his refusal to engage in frequent interviews and debates.

“That’s such a huge reversal ... maybe [he] had people in his ear saying, ‘You know, you can’t really get Republicans to vote for you if you say it’s time to move on,’” Reilly said.

Doughty, who entered the race in January of this year, called himself a “moderate man” during an AprilGreater Bostonappearance. But in campaign ads released in early summer he coined himself as a “conservative outsider that will defend our police on the street and protect our kids in the classroom.”

Reilly says Doughty has “tiptoed in the direction of Diehl on some social and cultural issues,” pointing to his appearance on Talking Politics just one month prior where he referred to himself as quite the opposite of a moderate.

Recent polling has Diehl ahead of Doughty in the Republican primary but, the latest Suffolk University/Boston Globe poll shows both Republicans losing to Attorney General Maura Healey by at least 30 points. And as the campaigns approach a Sept. 6 primary, Reilly says Diehl’s strategy of not engaging with his opponent may leave him in a weakened position for a general election.

“Diehl has political skills we are not seeing in this campaign,” Reilly said.

This report was originally published by GBH News.

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  • Coverage of elections in 2022 on NEPM, including Massachusetts and elsewhere in New England.