Baker-linked super PAC takes aim at DiZoglio on LGBT issues
Group with close ties to governor spending big to boost Amore
A SUPER PAC with ties to Gov. Charlie Baker is going on the attack in the state auditor’s race, slamming Diana DiZoglio, the Democratic nominee, over her past involvement with a conservative Alabama church.
“Diana DiZoglio, too extreme for Massachusetts. She worked at a virulent homophobic Alabama church,” says the ad that began running Thursday on Facebook.
DiZoglio’s campaign has said she worked as a youth counselor for The Ramp, an evangelical church based in Hamilton, Alabama, when she was a teenager. The church, which does outreach to younger people, was home to a charismatic preacher with a strong anti-gay message.
DiZoglio, a two-term state senator from Methuen, has talked often on the campaign trail about the hurdles she has had to overcome as the child of a teenage single mother. Her campaign says she was raised in the conservative church by her mother, and that DiZoglio, 39, parted ways with The Ramp as a young adult.
Super PACs can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money, but they cannot coordinate their activities with any candidates they support. The Massachusetts Majority super PAC says its goal is to help elect centrist candidates from both parties.
Baker has separately endorsed Amore, the only statewide candidate he is backing in next month’s election.
The auditor’s race has been billed as Republicans’ best chance for statewide office. The most recent Suffolk University poll showed the race to be the closest of the four contested state offices, but DiZoglio still held a 15 point lead over Amore, 40-25, with three minor party candidates in single digits.
While DiZoglio’s campaign says she has been a staunch supporter of LGBT rights since entering the Legislature as a state representative in 2013, Amore’s campaign pointed to votes she took on transgender rights that it says suggest otherwise.
In April 2013, just months after taking office, DiZoglio joined all 29 House Republicans and 14 conservative Democrats in opposing a measure aimed at sidelining a budget amendment sponsored by then-state Rep. Jim Lyons. The amendment filed by Lyons, now the Trump-aligned chairman of the Massachusetts Republican Party, sought to block guidelines issued by the state education department urging school districts to allow students to use the locker room that corresponds to their gender identity.
DiZoglio’s campaign insists her vote was not taken in opposition to the guidelines, but because she objected to House leaders’ effort to bury the matter by sending it to be studied rather than having lawmakers take a recorded vote on the underlying issue concerning the education department guidelines.
Two leading LGBT groups in the state, however, Bay State Stonewall Democrats and Mass Equality, endorsed her opponent in last month’s Democratic primary, Chris Dempsey.
“I’m sure that her views have evolved and changed,” said Tanya Neslusan, executive director of Mass Equality, which is now backing DiZoglio in the general election. “I know that she has been on our side when we’ve needed her and when it counted.”
Neslusan pointed out that DiZoglio has the support of two transgender local elected officials in the state, and said she has had in-depth conversations with DiZoglio because they share a background of being raised in conservative religious homes. “There is a process of coming to adulthood when you start reasoning through some of the things you’ve been taught, when you reexamine those and who you are,” she said.
Jeremy Comeau, co-chair of Bay State Stonewall Democrats, said the group is also now backing DiZoglio. “I’m more comfortable having a Democrat in there who is willing to learn from their past votes and past mistakes and who will have a dialogue with the community, so I think having Diana DiZoglio as auditor is a better choice for the community,” he said.
Neslusan, who also serves as co-chair of Bay State Stonewall Democrats, said she was surprised to see Amore raising issues related to LGBT rights. “I’m a little frustrated when he’s running on the same ticket as people like Rayla Campbell, who is trying to paint the whole LGBT community as predators, and he’s trying to zero in on Diana,” she said, referring to the Republican nominee for secretary of state, who has made outlandish claims that schools are teaching young children to have sex.
“At no point has Amore reached out to our organization to ask how the auditor’s office can help us,” Neslusan said of Mass Equality, which she said is a nonpartisan organization that works with Republicans and has a libertarian board member.
Amore’s campaign did not respond to a message asking about the super PAC ad attacking DiZoglio.
DiZoglio’s campaign provided a statement from Neslusan, the Mass Equality director. “Diana DiZoglio is the candidate in this race endorsed by Mass Equality and Planned Parenthood,” she said. “She has a decade-long record of voting in support of LGBTQ and reproductive rights. Anthony Amore voted for Donald Trump in 2020 after he packed the Supreme Court with conservative justices and led an assault on LGBTQ and reproductive rights,”
Amore’s campaign has also suggested that DiZoglio’s views on abortion rights, which she says she supports, have changed. His campaign pointed to her first reelection campaign as state representative, in 2014, when she did not even seek the endorsement of Planned Parenthood, which backed one of her two Democratic primary opponents.At a campaign appearance last month with Dempsey, in the closing days of of his Democratic primary race against DiZoglio, Marty Walz, the former CEO of Planned Parenthood of Massachusetts, emphasized Dempsey’s strong pro-choice position. She referenced the group’s backing of DiZoglio’s opponent in the 2014 state rep race and said the organization never endorsed challengers to pro-choice incumbents.