Asked Thursday morning whether he planned to vote for Governor Charlie Baker on Nov. 6, US Senate hopeful Geoff Diehl didn’t hesitate: “Yeah, I said I support the entire ticket; he says he supports the entire ticket. So nothing changes,” said the Whitman Republican, who is challenging Elizabeth Warren, in an interview.
That’s more resolve than Baker displayed when asked the same question during a televised debate Wednesday night. Baker wavered and stumbled over several questions about Diehl, a staunch Trump supporter with starkly different views on key policy issues from the governor. Baker only committed to voting for Diehl after the broadcast ended.
“The governor ultimately said that he’s supporting the ticket, and I support the ticket as well, so, um, I think [that] question was really answered by the end of the night,” Diehl said in a phone interview when asked for his reaction to Baker’s hemming and hawing.
Diehl rejected the idea that he has become an albatross in Baker’s race or that his candidacy will cost Baker the executive office on Beacon Hill.
“Look, he’s running his race. I’m running my race,” Diehl said. “He’s just focused on a race that’s obviously different than mine. His is state and mine’s federal.”
Asked whether he could cost Baker votes, Diehl replied: “I can tell you who I’m not voting for, which is Jay Gonzalez, and I don’t think that the majority of people in Massachusetts who are voting are going to vote for him either, so I don’t see Governor Baker losing.”
Baker’s awkward moment underscores just how big of a wedge President Trump has driven into the Massachusetts Republican Party. The decidedly moderate Baker, who released a TV ad Thursday touting his bipartisan bona fides, has made it clear he didn’t vote for the president in 2016. Diehl was the first elected Republican in the state to endorse Trump and was cochair of his campaign in the state.
But Diehl maintained his happy warrior stance, refusing to criticize Baker or acknowledge any tension at the top of the GOP ticket. He pointed to the tough week his opponent, Warren, has had in the wake of her releasing an analysis of a DNA test to prove her Native American ancestry, saying the Cambridge Democrat was in “free fall.”
“I anticipate being successful with this Senate race and being a great partner for Massachusetts and the entire Legislature,” Diehl said.Victoria McGrane can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @vgmac.