Chris Doughty: ‘I almost feel like a governor already’
GOP candidate says business experience prepared him for executive role
CHRIS DOUGHTY has no experience in politics. But he believes leading the state is similar to leading a large business. “There’s not one part of the governor’s life that I’m not familiar with, that I feel uncomfortable doing,” Doughty said. “In fact, I feel like I was sort of designed for this job. It just very much fits my skill set…. I almost feel like a governor already.”
With Gov. Charlie Baker opting not to seek a third term in office, two Republicans – former state Rep. Geoff Diehl and Doughty – are running to replace him. Doughty is a political newcomer who considers himself a moderate and welcomes comparisons to Baker. He has focused his campaign on fiscal issues, particularly lowering the cost of living.
“Our citizens are being crushed by the high cost of living here, and we’re losing our families,” Doughty said, speaking on this week’s Codcast.
Asked if he sees himself as a politician in the model of Baker, Doughty praised the current governor for his executive skills, his hard work, and his enjoyment of “complex business problems” – all traits that Doughty said he shares.
Doughty grew up in California, attended Brigham Young University, and spent two years in Argentina as a Mormon missionary. He moved to Massachusetts with his wife Leslie to attend Harvard Business School, then settled in Wrentham. He bought a small manufacturing company in the 1990s, Capstan Industries, and expanded it to become a 700-employee company with six factories that make auto and appliance parts.
Doughty said he decided to run for governor because he saw a need for a candidate with his skills. “I made many phone calls to see if there were others that were from the business community that could come in with a fiscally conservative message that was electable, and didn’t find someone, so I eventually made the big decision to step out and put my skills and my capacities and my motivations to the test with the voters,” he said.
Doughty said he wrote a job description for the governor’s role and found he was already doing all those things. “I’ve been doing it for 30 years – hiring people, getting rid of people that are underperforming, building teams, cross-functional teams, having high expectations, budgeting, finance, bonds.”
A key part of Doughty’s platform is making government simpler and cutting costs by eliminating bureaucracy. He cited the example of an affordable housing developer he met who had to get approvals from five government agencies.
“As governor, I would come in and say to all the state employees, here’s our objective: We’re going to improve our services, and we’re going to lower our cost by 3 percent a year,” Doughty said. Doughty said he believes he could make that cut without eliminating services, by simplifying government and making it more efficient.
Doughty said he would not raise taxes or additional revenue, arguing that Massachusetts already has high health care, electricity, and grocery costs. “I think that’s like walking into a job saying I’m going to raise prices,” he said.
Asked about transit expansions – like the proposed Springfield to Boston passenger rail – Doughty said his priority would be maintaining the current system. “I’ve seen it so often in business where people get excited about expansion and they overlook the immediate needs that are creating risk,” Doughty said. “I’d much rather fix a bridge that could fall then talk about greater expansion somewhere else.”
On energy, Doughty called climate change “one of the great challenges of this generation.” He said given high electricity prices in Massachusetts, he would focus first on increasing energy supply. He said increasing hydropower in particular “makes a lot of sense to me.”
Doughty said previously that he generally opposes abortion rights except in cases of rape or incest. But he said on the Codcast that he would not attempt to change Massachusetts’s permissive abortion laws. “I do not want to be a governor that divides the people further. I want to be a governor that unites and talks about things that we can all agree on,” Doughty said. “So things that are social issues are very divisive, and we’re all exhausted of all the things we’ve gone through recently that have divided us as a state.”Although the lieutenant governor and governor candidates are nominated separately by political parties, both Doughty and Diehl already chose running mates. Doughty tapped former state representative Kate Campanale earlier this month, while Diehl on Monday announced his pick of former state representative Leah (Cole) Allen. Doughty said he and Campanale talk daily, coordinate their schedules, and are learning to work together. “You kind of get two candidates in one, which is nice because we just don’t have the fundraising apparatus that the other party does,” he said.
Though he is asking voters to choose him in the GOP primary, Doughty has a spotty history of voting in state primaries. The last non-presidential state primary election that Doughty voted in was in 2009. Not all those years had competitive Republican races, but in both 2014 and 2018, Baker was facing a primary challenger. Asked why he did not vote those years, Doughty said he was a father of six children, running a business, and traveling around the state. “Sometimes I was just out of town,” he said. “I certainly always had my heart and my mind on a good, well-run state government.”