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Ballot now set in the Republican primary for governor of Massachusetts

Candidates for Massachusetts governor - Chris Doughty (left) and Geoff Diehl (right) - both qualified to appear on the September 2022 primary ballot.
State House News Service
Candidates for Massachusetts governor - Chris Doughty (left) and Geoff Diehl (right) - both qualified to appear on the September 2022 primary ballot.

A former state representative who is a Trump supporter and a business owner backed by Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker will appear on the state ballot in the Republican primary for governor this September.

Over the weekend, Republican Party officials gathered at the MassMutual Center in Springfield for their convention. There was some suspense, but an underdog candidate for governor did end up securing a spot on the ballot after getting more than the required 15% support. Matt Murphy from the Statehouse News Service walks us through this GOP primary matchup.

Matt Murphy, State House News Service: Chris Doughty did perhaps surprise some people coming out of the convention on Saturday with 29% support from the delegates. He had gone into the Springfield convention suggesting he thought he was on the edge of qualifying for the ballot. He more than did enough, which sets up the contest between Doughty, a Wrentham businessman, who has built his candidacy around being someone with experience creating jobs, against former state representative Geoff Diehl (who garnered 71% support) - a Trump-backed candidate who is campaigning against the way that Governor Baker handled the COVID-19 pandemic. Diehl campaigned against things like vaccine mandates, pledging during the convention on Saturday to rehire anyone fired over the state's vaccine mandate, and really embracing some of the national issues that we have long seen pushed into the corner of the room in Massachusetts during the Governor Baker years.

So, moving forward, we're going to be looking to see whether these two will square off in debates and whether or not Chris Doughty can get his name out there and spread his message more widely. Diehl, obviously, (is) the more well-known candidate in this race.

Carrie Healy, NEPM: Over the last month, the positive test rate for COVID has doubled, as has the number of people hospitalized. Governor Charlie Baker is pushing for vaccination, but some public health experts say interventions like masking should be brought back. Matt, what's the conversation on Beacon Hill about how the governor is responding to this?

Increasingly, as we've seen these numbers climb, the calls for more aggressive messaging on wearing masks, especially indoors in crowded public settings, has been gaining steam. The governor is really just not talking much about masks, suggesting the best thing that residents can do is get vaccinated and get tested if they don't feel well.

The state has set up a website to help people learn if they are eligible for Paxlovid the therapeutic drug that has been shown to be effective. So, the governor says with vaccines and treatments, that should be where the focus is.

Now, of course, there are some who want to see a return to masking, if not a full mandate, than more strong language coming from the Department of Public Health urging people to mask up. But, right now, I think people are kind of taking a wait and see approach, wondering if this is going to be a full wave or just a quick rise and fall. Even Attorney General Maura Healey saying last week that she did not think we were quite there yet on the need to return to a mask mandate.

Tomorrow, the Senate will begin debate on a nearly $50 billion budget that has more than 1,100 amendments. So, what might make it through the massive slashing process to come?

Yeah, that's a great question. And one if I could answer, I'd be a much richer man. But certainly, this is a situation where the state, being flush with money, has created the opportunity for lawmakers to go after all sorts of priorities that they would like to see in this budget. The Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation doing an analysis suggesting that over $3.5 billion worth of spending proposed through the amendments, a very small fraction of these earmarks and other projects, are going to make it through. This has been a carefully calibrated budget by the Senate as it was with the House.

Another issue on our radar, one I'd be watching; Senator Cindy Friedmann of Arlington, Senate chair of the Committee on Health Care, is proposing language that would shield people helping and providing access to abortion here in Massachusetts for people coming from out of state. This is a similar shield law to what we're seeing in other states like Connecticut, which has passed and signed a law like this (in) response to Roe even in a blue state where abortion will remain legal, even if the Supreme Court strikes down the national precedent.