The Bay State Trump bump
President a factor in state GOP primary
Yesterday, upon the stair,
I met a man who wasn’t there
He wasn’t there again today
I wish, I wish he’d go away…
“Antigonish” by William Hughes Mearns
GOV. CHARLIE BAKER consistently polls as one of the most popular governors in the country, some heady stuff for a Republican in the nation’s bluest state. But can you imagine what he could do if his own party was more solid in backing him?
Baker, as expected, cruised to victory in his GOP primary race against conservative preacher Scott Lively, an acolyte of President Trump. But the margin of victory – Lively outpaced his convention showing — raised a few eyebrows among watchers who see a Trump Bump taking hold of the state Republican party.
Indeed, seeds of Trumpism were glaring up and down the Massachusetts Republican primary ballots Tuesday. Jay McMahon, a staunch defender of gun rights, rode to a 2-1 victory in the race for the GOP nomination for Attorney General on the wings of his promise to not only reverse Attorney General Maura Healey’s ban on copycat assault rifles but abandon her mountain of litigation against the Trump administration.
But the most telling sign of Trump loyalism in the state was the easy victory of state Rep. Geoff Diehl to take on Sen. Elizabeth Warren in November. Diehl was among the earliest to jump aboard the Trump Express and has never gotten off.
In a three-way race, Diehl rang up more than 55 percent of the vote against businessman John Kingston, who touted his own support for Trump and got about 27 percent of the vote, and Beth Lindstrom, a former aide to former governor – and future Utah senator – Mitt Romney. Tellingly, Lindstrom was the only one of the three who condemned Trump’s style of politics, saying that was not going to defeat Warren, and her 17 percent total showed how that take went over with Republican voters.
The Real Diehl has given no sign he’ll separate himself from the bomb-tosser-in-chief. In fact, that’s a part of his platform, the ability to access the White House and be part of a Republican majority to give Massachusetts a seat at the table.
But while a virtual arm around the shoulder of the president plays well with the base, it will be a tough sell in a state that Trump lost by 27 percent. And his favorability here has dropped from that high point. A Morning Consult poll shows Trump with a 62 percent unfavorability rate in Massachusetts compared to 52 percent favorable for Warren. If Diehl ties himself to that wagon, it will be a climb of Sisyphean proportions.But many local and nationally see Diehl as much as a stalking horse and surrogate for the bigger party looking to soften up Warren through attack, attack, attack to make her a weaker candidate should she decide to challenge Trump come 2020. You may not hear his name from Diehl a lot, but Trump will be a presence between now and November.
Last night I saw upon the stair
A little man who wasn’t there
He wasn’t there again today
Oh, how I wish he’d go away…