Primary day in Massachusetts sees key GOP race, while Dem candidate could make history

The deep-blue state has a history of electing moderate Republican governors.

September 6, 2022, 8:21 PM

Tuesday is primary day in Massachusetts, where attention turns to the GOP gubernatorial race between a Donald Trump-backed hopeful and a more "pragmatic" politician as Republicans aim to keep control of the executive office. Polls closed at 8 p.m. ET.

With state Attorney General Maura Healey now the presumptive Democratic nominee after clearing the field in her primary, all eyes are on who will face her. Former state Rep. Geoff Diehl, who has the support of Trump, is going up against businessman and political newcomer Chris Doughty for the Republican nomination.

Diehl won the state party's endorsement earlier this year and has positioned himself as the more conservative choice as well as focusing on issues like infrastructure, expanding housing options and supporting law enforcement. He also cast doubts on the 2020 presidential election, opposed COVID-19 mandates and supported the overturning of Roe v. Wade.

Diehl previously ran against Elizabeth Warren in the 2018 Senate race but lost by 24%.

Chris Doughty, right, casts his ballot, as election worker Todd Duffy, left, looks on, Sept. 6, 2022, in Wrentham, Mass., in the state's primary election.
Steven Senne/AP

Meanwhile, Doughty has focused on three main areas throughout the primary season: lowering taxes, keeping the statehouse balanced and making Massachusetts more affordable for people to live in. He has described himself as both a "moderate" and as "pragmatic, common sense [and] ... fiscally conservative."

Even though Massachusetts is considered a Democratic stronghold in many ways -- it hasn't voted for a Republican president in nearly 30 years -- the state has a long history of electing GOP governors, including an unbroken 16-year stretch from 1991-2007.

The incumbent, Charlie Baker, is widely popular in the state but decided not to seek a third term and has not endorsed either candidate in Tuesday's primary.

Geoff Diehl speaks to reporters outside the Statehouse, in Boston, March 21, 2022.
Steven Senne/AP, FILE

After primaries in Illinois and Maryland, the race is the latest example of Republican voters in blue states having to choose between two different types of conservatives as they hope to either retain control of the governorship or retake it after the last election.

Whoever wins the GOP primary, history could be made in Massachusetts if Healey is victorious in November. If she wins, Healey would be Massachusetts' first elected female governor and first openly gay governor.

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