GOP lieutenant governor candidates split on Trump
Allen, Campanale both favor lower taxes, less government
IN THEIR FIRST public debate, the Republican candidates for lieutenant governor – Kate Campanale and Leah Cole Allen – both laid out visions for a state with lower taxes and less government intervention. The two were largely positive about the administration they hope to succeed – Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito – but sharply differed about another top GOP politician, former president Donald Trump.
While most of the hour-long debate focused on statewide issues, Allen was asked about Trump’s endorsement of her chosen running mate, former state representative Geoff Diehl. “The policies we had under the former president is what we’re running on,” Allen said, citing energy independence, border security, low unemployment rates, and a market that boosted retirement funds. “If people are honest with themselves, we were better off three, four years ago than we are today,” she said.
Campanale, who is campaigning with businessman Chris Doughty, said Trump’s endorsement “is guaranteeing a loss in November here in Massachusetts.”
Campanale said she and Doughty are focused on state issues, not national politics. “Both opponents right and left are so focused on this man,” Campanale said, referring to Diehl and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Maura Healey. “One wants to be like him, the other wants to sue him and has done it over 100 times.”
Allen was a state representative from Peabody from 2013 to 2016. She then worked as a registered nurse, but was fired from her job at Beverly Hospital for refusing to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
Campanale was a Worcester state representative from 2015 to 2018. She is a history teacher who previously worked in business and also worked in communications for the Baker administration at the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development.
Although both GOP candidates for governor selected running mates, voters choose nominees for governor and lieutenant governor separately. It is possible a candidate for governor could win the nomination but their running mate does not, forcing opposing primary candidates to share the Republican ticket.
Baker has not endorsed in the race. Doughty’s positions have generally been more similar to Baker’s than Diehl’s have, with Diehl being more conservative.
Campanale praised the Baker administration several times. Asked about her potential role as lieutenant governor, she referred to Polito’s work with municipalities. She praised the administration’s work holding the line on taxes and increasing local aid.
Even while calling the state of the MBTA an “emergency crisis,” Campanale declined to directly criticize Baker. Campanale said the MBTA is a “decades long problem.” She said Baker “took the responsibility most governors wouldn’t have taken” and through the Fiscal and Management Control Board “did the best he could.” Campanale said she would focus on employee engagement and better management at the MBTA.
Asked about Baker’s vaccine mandate for executive branch employees, Campanale declined to address the policy directly, instead pivoting to tout what Doughty did in his company, which was educate employees about the vaccine but “let them make the best health decision that was right for them to keep them healthy.”
Allen agreed that the problems at the MBTA, which she gave a grade of “D or D minus,” were “decades in making.” Allen said as lieutenant governor she would provide better management of the MBTA pension fund, and look at management and union positions to determine if they were distributed through patronage.
Asked whether they personally rode the T, Campanale said she and Doughty took it at a few weeks ago, while Allen talked about taking the train as a high school senior. Both candidates oppose free MBTA fares, though Allen said she would be open to exploring reduced fares based on income.
Asked where they would focus their work, since the lieutenant governor has few responsibilities designated by statue, Campanale mentioned revitalizing tourism, while Allen mentioned liaising with parents on education.
Allen turned multiple times to “medical freedom,” which she said has been a core issue of her campaign. “What we saw through the pandemic — mandates, vaccine passports — that’s a form of segregation and government overreach,” Allen said.
Allen said the fact that the US Centers for Disease Control dropped guidance distinguishing between vaccinated and unvaccinated people shows they “realize what I was talking about is actually right. The vaccines weren’t working, the mandates didn’t help mitigate the virus.” (Vaccines have been shown to mitigate serious illness from COVID.)
Both opposed a constitutional amendment to raise taxes on income over $1 million, with Campanale worrying that high earners would leave the state and Allen citing the impact on retirees who sell a home.
Allen said she would not accept a pay raise above the lieutenant governor’s $165,000 salary; Campanale did not make that commitment.
The two threw a couple of jabs at each other or their running mates. Allen pointed out that Doughty voted for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in 2016 before supporting Trump in 2020. Campanale responded that Diehl voted for current President Joe Biden in the 2008 Democratic presidential primary.Both candidates support a referendum to overturn a law giving driver’s licenses to immigrants without legal status. Campanale criticized Allen for resigning her seat in the House before a debate over an earlier version of the driver’s license bill came up for a vote. “My opponent had an opportunity to talk on the House floor on this issue in 2016 when it was debated, but she wasn’t there because she quit,” Campanale said. “She left her constituents without a voice.”
Allen said she quit to join the private sector, and suggested Campanale shouldn’t criticize Diehl for being a career politician and Allen for not being one.