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Texas Republican congressman cancels event with MassGOP over internal drama

Jim Lyons, chairman of the Massachusetts GOP, has aligned with the conservative wing of the state party.Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe/file

Dan Crenshaw, a prominent Republican congressman from Texas, canceled a fund-raiser planned this weekend with the Massachusetts GOP over the internal discord roiling the state party, according to a person familiar with Crenshaw’s planning.

Crenshaw had been scheduled to speak Sunday at the Andover home of state GOP chairman Jim Lyons, an event party officials had been advertising as late as Monday evening. But around 10 p.m., the party abruptly announced that the event had been called off “due to planned protests.” Party leaders did not respond to questions about the protests they cited.

Crenshaw informed party officials around 7 p.m. Monday that he would not attend the event, according to the person familiar with the event’s cancellation, who asked not to be identified to speak openly about the congressman’s decision.


He had agreed to appear at the fund-raiser before learning about the current state of affairs in the party and decided he did not want to wade into another state’s internal politics, the person said.

The Crenshaw event was not the only one disrupted by the internal divisions in the state party. Lyons had been scheduled to speak at a June 26 event for the Massachusetts Federation of Young Republicans, but the group disinvited him recently, chairman Joe Paru said.

“We don’t want to be involved in the drama,” Paru said. He said Lyons accepted their decision cordially.

Lyons, a controversial figure in a party sharply divided between social conservatives and establishment moderates, has been under fire in recent weeks for his handling of anti-gay remarks made by a fellow Republican. Lyons and a spokesman for the state party did not immediately return requests for comment.

Deborah Martell, a member of the 80-member Republican State Committee, told a GOP congressional candidate she was “sickened” that he and his husband had adopted children. At a closed-door meeting last week, Martell said she wouldn’t be “bullied” into resigning although top officials, including Governor Charlie Baker, have called on her to do so and national Republican figures have condemned her comments.


After staying silent for days despite calls from some of his fellow Republicans to denounce the comments, Lyons said Martell’s remarks were “offensive” but did not call on her to resign as many top party officials had, saying he refused to bow to “cancel culture.” Republican critics, many of them more moderate than Lyons, said the chairman has failed the party by failing to fund-raise and recruit strong legislative candidates, as well as applying too strict a litmus test to a party that should seek to be inclusive.

That’s led to a number of prominent Massachusetts Republicans calling on Lyons to step down, most recently a group of seven former party chairs that included a former congressman and lieutenant governor.

“A chair who is unable to put the welfare of the party ahead of his or her own interests should have the decency to step aside, for the sake of the party they claim to serve,” they wrote. “If the chair will not, the time has come for the State Committee to act.”

Nearly the entire Massachusetts House Republican caucus called on Lyons to resign if he did not forcefully condemn Martell’s remarks. Lyons has dismissed those calls as the product of “poisonous woke cancel culture groupthink.”

Ousting Lyons would require a two-thirds vote of the state committee. At a state committee meeting last week, there was no concerted effort to remove him from power, though several attendees complained that his behavior was at times aggressive and erratic, including cursing at some fellow Republicans.


Emma Platoff can be reached at emma.platoff@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @emmaplatoff.