Geoff Diehl: Freedom is Foundational
One of the two candidates running for governor in the Republican primary is Geoff Diehl, 53, a proud father of two daughters and husband to KathyJo. No stranger to politics, the Whitman business executive served from 2011 to 2018 as the State Representative for the 7th Plymouth District.
In addressing the type of governor he would be, Diehl emphasizes his commitment to personal freedom, the priority he would place on easing the cost of living in Massachusetts, and the importance of working collaboratively with the state legislature.
Erosion of Freedom: A Hill to Die On
In his interview with Marblehead Beacon, Diehl speaks often about issues that share a common theme involving what he believes has been the government’s trampling of freedom. “The pandemic exposed cracks,” he says, and many, including his running mate–lieutenant governor candidate Leah Allen Cole–lost their jobs due to vaccine mandates.
Cole–who began serving as a state representative when she was just 24 and later became a nurse–was fired when she would not get the newly-developed Covid-19 vaccine while she was pregnant, or later when nursing her baby. “These people had worked on the front lines before the vaccine was available…and then many were fired when they wouldn’t [take the shot],” Diehl says.
People won’t forget those sorts of things, says Diehl, who points out that as recently as a few months ago, 12 Massachusetts state troopers were fired for refusing to get the Covid vaccine. Diehl says he’d offer such workers their jobs back. “Maura Healey will have a hard time defending why she didn’t stand up for people’s civil rights during the pandemic,” asserts Diehl, who says that while “courts upheld [state] mandates,” restaurant owners lost their life investments based on arbitrary decisions” about “essential employees.” Such decisions, in his view, engendered frustration and created hardship. “If you were a bar that served food, you would be shut down; if you were a restaurant that served alcohol you could stay open,” he says.
Freedom From Regressive Taxation
Excessive taxation is another arena in which Diehl says freedom is at play. Under the Massachusetts state law known as 64F, when the Commonwealth has surplus tax revenues (as it did this year with a record-breaking nearly five-billion-dollar surplus), a significant percentage of that is required to be returned to taxpayers. He believes that the state–if under one-party control–will attempt to repeal that law.
Diehl has long fought for tax-related concerns. In 2014 he was the chief proponent of a ballot question to challenge a law making annual gas tax hikes automatic. It was a battle he says he won “despite being outspent 31 to one” and one he sees coming up again as Democrats talk about ways to raise more revenue. When his ballot question prevailed, “it wasn’t a Republican issue as much as it was a household, economic issue,” he says, calling taxes on gas “regressive.”
Energy and the Environment
“I’m all for renewables, but the pace at which they’re trying to change over is radically untenable,” says Diehl. Nuclear energy, which Healey has opposed, “was 19 percent of our state’s energy; we can’t put up enough wind and solar to make up for that,” he says, adding, “we must have fossil fuels in the mix until we can get a more permanent replacement for our energy needs.”
Healey’s pride in having shut down two natural gas pipelines into Massachusetts, he believes, is misplaced. “What that does is drive up the cost of energy and home heating,” he says, something he asserts played a role in some 50,000 Massachusetts residents leaving the state recently.
A Trump Endorsement: A Help in the Primary and a Hindrance in the General?
Diehl’s candidacy offers what some would view as an honor and others as baggage: the endorsement of President Donald Trump–something Diehl is proud to have. His Trump connection is something he believes paints only part of the picture. Until 2008, Diehl was a Democrat, having grown up with “very liberal parents.” His genesis to becoming a Republican was slow, beginning when he started “paying attention to politics in college,” then married a lifelong Republican–his wife and “love of his life,” KathyJo. His “wake-up call,” though, was in 2008. Then-candidate Barack Obama began speaking about the redistribution of wealth, and Diehl realized, he says, that the Democratic party “was no longer the party I grew up with.” The picture of JFK still hanging in his home office, he says, is reflective of “the kind of Democrat” I looked up to.
Diehl is straightforward about his rationale for supporting Trump: He wanted to put a priority on the American worker, secure the border, and bring troops back from foreign engagements that weren’t serving our national interests, says Diehl. These are all policy positions with which he agrees. “We had the lowest unemployment in a 50-year history and an economy firing on all cylinders,'' he adds.
Running to Win the Primary
With regard to Massachusetts voters–Unenrolleds at least–potentially being skittish about electing a Trump-endorsed Republican as governor, Diehl is not concerned, pointing to his election in 2010 as state representative of his district against a Democratic incumbent. “That election wasn’t about partisan politics, he says, “it was about issues that affected households.” He went on to be re-elected in 2012, 2014, and 2016, and believes that his open mind and eight years in the state legislature–including time on the Ways and Means Committee–make him the right choice in the primary.
Fighting the General Election During the Primary
While Diehl was successful in his races for state representative, he wasn’t successful in his 2018 U.S. Senate bid against Elizabeth Warren, garnering only 36 percent of the vote. But he believes that people’s appetites for far-left politics have changed, even in Massachusetts. “Maura Healey is trying to walk back things she said in 2020,” he says, referencing, for example, comments she made during the George Floyd protests and ensuing riots. Diehl highlighted one of Healey’s statements in which she stated, “America is burning, but that's how forests grow,” which she later told a media outlet had been “a poor metaphor” and not meant to condone violence. This does not, according to Diehl, reflect the type of leader that most Massachusetts voters wish to see in the corner office.
Working Across the Aisle
Would Diehl be able to successfully work with a Democratic legislature? Yes, he says, emphasizing his own experiences with Bob DeLeo, the Democratic Speaker of House when Diehl was a state representative. Stories of discord between a Speaker and legislators–particularly of the opposing party–were never part of Diehl’s experience. “When I won my seat, the Boston Globe said the Speaker had spent money to protect my opponent, and that I wouldn’t like [my reception] on Beacon Hill.” In fact, the moment after Diehl was sworn in, he shares, a legislator from the opposite political party came over to him and said, “I heard you’re an Eagle Scout.” People were quick to want to work out issues, he offers. “Speaker DeLeo…tried to find consensus wherever he could, which was a great lesson.”
Regardless of the primary’s outcome, Diehl says he is in favor of whatever would move freedom forward. Should Doughty win, he will throw his support behind him. Diehl’s campaign website may be found here.