What to watch in Massachusetts’ primaries

Elections 2022

FILE – Republican gubernatorial candidate Geoff Diehl speaks to reporters outside the Statehouse, in Boston, March 21, 2022. Diehl, who has former President Donald Trump’s endorsement, is going up against businessman Chris Doughty, a political newcomer, in the Republican primary for governor on Tuesday, Sept. 6. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)

BOSTON (NewsNation) — Voters head to the polls in Massachusetts Tuesday as Republicans hope to hold on to the state’s governor’s office.

Republicans will have the option to vote for Donald Trump-endorsed former state Rep. Geoff Diehl or the more moderate businessman Chris Doughty, who is a political newcomer, to advance to midterm elections this fall.

Massachusetts is the latest blue state to feature a top-of-the-ticket contest between a conservative candidate endorsed by Trump and a more centrist opponent. In recent primaries in Maryland and Connecticut, GOP voters have opted for the Trump loyalists.

The winner of Tuesday’s Massachusetts primary will run against Democratic Attorney General Maura Healey in November. If elected, Healey would be the state’s first openly gay governor and the first woman elected governor of Massachusetts.

The governor’s office is open this year because current GOP Gov. Charlie Baker opted against running for a third term.

Diehl has opposed COVID-19 mandates, falsely claimed the 2020 presidential race was rigged, fought against the extension of mail-in voting and said he supports the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade.

Trump — a critic of Baker, who publicly refused to vote for Trump in 2016 and 2020 — endorsed Diehl last October, saying in a statement that he is “strong on Crime, Election Integrity, our now under siege Southern Border, loves our Military, and has a big focus on taking care of our Vets.”

Doughty described himself as moderate when he entered the race but has since embraced the label of conservative as he tries to appeal to Republican primary voters. Doughty has said his experience running a manufacturing company gives him the know-how to be a successful chief executive.

He has said he wants to make Massachusetts more affordable for residents and businesses. He has described himself as “pro-life,” but acknowledges the state’s highest court has recognized a right to abortion and said he doesn’t have an interest in changing that.

Baker hasn’t endorsed either candidate.

Healey is running virtually unopposed, with her sole rival Sonia Chang-Diaz dropping out of the race in June, though she remains on the ballot.

The election also features several statewide contested Democratic primaries, including for attorney general and secretary of the commonwealth. All candidates running for U.S. House are running unopposed.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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