Even in liberal Massachusetts, will Republicans support the Trumpiest of candidates?

Now and then I hear someone suggest that many Republicans, if given the chance to vote in secret, would reject Trumpism and support many progressive initiatives. But they are beholden to the crazies in their party and therefore have to “vote extremist,” if you will.

To them I always say: look at Massachusetts.

If there is any state where Republicans could adopt 100% the “fiscally conservative, socially liberal” model that some moderate Republicans espouse, why are so many Bay State Republicans supporting the Trumpiest of Trump candidates? After all, this is the state of William Weld and Charlie Baker, two MA governors who tried (and often failed) to walk the tightrope over the chasm that exists between GOP extremism and responsible governing.

Today is primary day in Massachusetts, so we’ll soon see just how deep MAGA goes in what is arguably the most liberal state in America.

Massachusetts Republicans are weighing which candidate has the best chance of keeping the governor’s office in GOP hands as they vote in Tuesday’s primary: a former state lawmaker endorsed by Donald Trump or a political newcomer who’s cast himself as the more moderate choice.

Geoff Diehl and Chris Doughty are vying for the chance to replace incumbent Republican Gov. Charlie Baker, who’s opted not to seek a third term.

Democrats have a simpler decision. Attorney General Maura Healey — she would become the first woman and first openly gay candidate elected governor if she wins — is facing no challengers after the only other Democrat on the ballot dropped out of the running.

Republican voters in the state will become just the latest to decide whether the party will further embrace Trumpism or is ready to move back toward the center. In recent primaries in other blue states like Maryland and Connecticut, GOP voters have nominated Trump loyalists, hurting the party’s chances of winning against a Democrat in the November general election.

Diehl, the favorite among state Republican Party delegates in Massachusetts, has ties to Trump stretching to 2016, when he served as co-chair for Trump’s presidential campaign in the state. Trump lost Massachusetts by almost 30 percentage points in his two presidential campaigns. Diehl has also opposed COVID-19 protocols and hailed the Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade.

Doughty, a businessman, said he supported some of Trump’s initiatives but wants to focus on challenges facing Massachusetts, which he said is increasingly unaffordable.

Diehl has come to embrace Trump’s false claims that he lost the 2020 election. Diehl said last year that he didn’t think it was a “stolen election” but later said the election was rigged, despite dozens of courts, local officials and Trump’s own attorney general saying the vote was legitimate. Doughty, meanwhile, has said he believes President Joe Biden was legitimately elected.

There are no “good Republicans,” and I’ve voted for a few in my lifetime. Bill Weld was a good Republican when I lived in Boston. In fact, I wrote the editorial endorsing him (for governor) in the pages of the newspaper where I was managing editor. But there are no Bill Welds coming to save the Republican Party.

Trump and MAGA own the Republican Party. And a vote for any Republican, even a “moderate” one, is to give strength to Donald Trump and his anti-democratic movement.

If chosen today by the Mass. GOP as its candidate, Trump Republican Geoff Diehl will face in the race for governor Democrat Attorney General Maura Healey, who would be the first female and first openly gay governor of Massachusetts.

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