Geoff Diehl, the conservative state lawmaker who last week badly lost his bid to unseat US Senator Elizabeth Warren, said he is considering running for state GOP chair — a position currently held by a strong ally of Governor Charlie Baker.
Diehl said Wednesday that he’s been encouraged by several people to seek the post, which has wide sway over the state Republican Party’s direction, fund-raising, and priorities. He said he is waiting to see whether chair Kirsten Hughes seeks a fourth term before making a decision, though he also didn’t rule out challenging her if she runs for reelection.
“I’m not taking any steps toward that until she decides what to do,” Diehl said in a phone interview. “Right now, it’s very nice that people contacted me to run for it. And I’ll consider it. . . . I want to make sure she is sure about what she wants to do first.”
Hughes, a Quincy city councilor who was first elected as state party chief in 2013, was noncommittal about her plans Wednesday, saying she is still going through a “natural reassessment” period.
She has overseen the party during both of Baker’s corner office victories, and had his backing when she fended off a challenge in 2017 from conservative activist Steve Aylward. The party, however, also lost ground in the Legislature this November, including the seats of longtime incumbents in the House and the Senate, adding to Democrats’ super-majority on Beacon Hill.
“I haven’t really decided,” Hughes said Wednesday of seeking reelection. “I’m just excited where we are and looking forward to building on that. But I haven’t really thought about what that means. I’m still fleshing that out.
“I think it’s a natural question for people. I’m probably the longest-serving chair in recent history,” she added. “Three terms is unheard of. It’s not a job for the faint of heart.”
According to party bylaws, the MassGOP state committee elects the party chair by secret ballot at its January meeting following each presidential and gubernatorial November election — or every two years.
There is unrest among the party’s more conservative factions, where members have openly expressed discontent with Baker and his maneuvers in recent years to muscle them out from the party’s state committee.
Even as Baker rolled to reelection last week, his avowed support for the ticket, Diehl included, pushed him into an awkward, tepid embrace of the more conservative candidate. Unlike Baker, Diehl opposes abortion rights and supported overturning the state’s transgender antidiscrimination law.
Aylward — who lost his bid to unseat Hughes, 46 votes to 30, last year — is among those encouraging Diehl, and he said he believes there are still others weighing a run for the chairmanship.
“I talked to him the day after the election,” Aylward said. “I’m very frustrated with our party. I mentioned to him it would be great if his next move was to run for party chair. He said, ‘That’s something I’ll consider, but I want to spend time with my family.’ ”
Registered Republicans make up 10.3 percent of the state’s 4.5 million voters.