WORCESTER — Wrentham Republican Chris Doughty on Tuesday picked former state representative Kate Campanale as his running mate, teaming up with a twice-elected Central Massachusetts lawmaker to balance his first-time gubernatorial campaign.
Doughty, a self-described moderate businessman, will compete in a primary election against Geoff Diehl, a conservative former state lawmaker who has been endorsed by former president Donald Trump. Doughty’s selection of Campanale, a one-time Baker administration official, could help further ground his campaign establishment wing of the state GOP while bolstering him in Worcester County, a stronghold for Republicans over the last decade.
Appearing together at Stearns Tavern on Tuesday, Doughty and Campanale pitched themselves as a unified ticket that’s largely untethered from national Republicans or the ideological divide currently battering the state GOP.
“This election isn’t about Donald Trump or Joe Biden. It isn’t even about Charlie Baker,” Campanale, 36, said, flanked by about 20 supporters and Doughty campaign staff. “It’s about looking forward. It’s about what Chris and I can do with the state that’s being handed to us and what the future holds.”
Campanale, a Spencer Republican, served two terms in the Legislature before launching an unsuccessful bid for Worcester register of deeds in 2018. She previously served as a legislative aide for state Representative Peter J. Durant, her now-husband, and after leaving office in 2019, was a fourth-grade teacher in Spencer East Brookfield School District.
Since last fall, she had worked for the Baker administration as a deputy director of communications for the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development.
“Chris and I complement each other very well,” Campanale said, citing Doughty’s business background — he’s president of Capstan Atlantic, a gear manufacturer in Wrentham — and her years on Beacon Hill. In a news release, Doughty’s campaign emphasized that Campanale was tapped to serve on the House budget committee, joining after Diehl “was kicked off.”
GOP leadership had removed Diehl from the House Ways and Means Committee in 2015, with minority leader Bradley Jones noting at the time that Diehl was part of a conservative faction that sought to oust Jones as leader the year prior.
While debuting as a ticket — and repeating a decades-old approach forged by Bill Weld and Paul Cellucci in 1990 — Doughty and Campanale will still run in separate primary elections. It raises the potential that one person could lose, leaving the other to appear on a ticket with another candidate come November.
Diehl, who launched his campaign last July, has not yet announced whether he’s tapping a running mate. In a statement Tuesday, he welcomed Campanale to the race.
“Republicans across Massachusetts are seeing the need for real leadership and are excited to run in what will be an incredibly strong election year for candidates who care about ensuring individual liberty,” he said.
Durant, Campanale’s husband, said Doughty approached him at a caucus in Worcester, asking to sit down with Campanale. They later met at a Panera, Doughty said. Campanale said she was intrigued by the idea of running for lieutenant governor.
“It wasn’t on my radar,” she said.
The pair is touting an optimistic message, promising to make Massachusetts more affordable, protect state funding for local towns and cities, and return normalcy to schools. “Getting back to the basics,” Campanale said.
“We do not see the Commonwealth as a city burning,” Doughty said. “We see it as a bright city on the hill for our entire nation to admire.”
Doughty and Campanale, as well as those around them, also sought to dispel they’re tied to any particular wing of the state party.
While Campanale was hired to work for Baker, a moderate, she has also worked with the Renew Massachusetts Coalition, a conservative advocacy group that, among other things, has opposed a transgender rights law and public funding of abortion, noted Holly Robichaud, a veteran Republican strategist working with Doughty.
“They don’t want to be slotted into, ‘This is a continuance of Baker, or this is Trump,’” Robichaud said of Doughty and Campanale. “They’re going to be their own people.”
Campanale declined to describe the ticket in ideological terms, saying their campaign is “Massachusetts-focused.” Asked if Diehl has put too much emphasis on Trump and national politics in his campaign, Campanale didn’t immediately answer. “Don’t answer that,” her husband, Durant, cut in, jokingly.
“I think those guys need to define what they’re going to do,” Durant said.