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Bill Everhart: Gaming out Massachusetts state elections

With the midterm elections about a month away, the polls have Democratic candidates well ahead in the races for Massachusetts state offices. While not a shock, it indicates a missed opportunity for Republicans if nothing changes.

Massachusetts voters have demonstrated over the years that they are more than willing to elect Republican governors as a counterbalance to the Democratic Legislature — as long as that Republican is a sober moderate and not a fringe extremist. Knowing this, Republican primary voters chose as their candidate Geoff Diehl, a Donald Trump follower and anti-abortionist who trailed Attorney General Maura Healey 52 percent to 26 percent in a Suffolk University/Boston Globe/NBC10-Boston/Telemundo poll last month.

While that margin may narrow, the poll reveals that roughly two-thirds of independent voters, who are critical to the election of any Republican, have an unfavorable opinion of Diehl, giving him little room for growth. Interviews with independents polled indicate that this is largely because of Diehl’s allegiance to Trump, who, based on his poor performance in two elections, is intensely unpopular in Massachusetts.

The vote of independents, making up slightly more than half the electorate, may be as much anti-Diehl as pro-Healey. With outgoing Republican Gov. Charlie Baker enjoying a 70 percent approval rating according to the same poll, state Republicans have rejected the potentially successful path represented by gubernatorial candidate Glenn Doughty in favor of allegiance to a disgraced former president state voters can’t abide.

Constitutional officers

Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin’s lead in the polls over Republican challenger Rayla Campbell is heartening. Campbell has given no indication that she would be a defender of election integrity in the state.

Campbell referred to Democrats as “rotten devils” at the Republican state convention, strongly suggesting she would not be an impartial arbiter of any election dispute. On her website, Campbell says she detects a “flavor of communism and socialism” in Massachusetts politics. This Cold War-era rhetorical nonsense is another indicator that Campbell would bring extremist ideology to an important job that should be nonpartisan. Galvin has been that, to the frustration of many progressive Democrats.

In The Boston Globe recently, columnist Jeff Jacoby suggested that if voters want to maintain a semblance of two-party government they should consider a vote for Anthony Amore, Republican candidate for state auditor. The director of security at the Isabella Gardner Museum, Amore has experience in areas relevant to the position of auditor, some of it gained revamping Logan Airport’s security procedures following 9/11.

He is opposed by Democratic legislator Diana DiZoglio, whom he congratulated even before her primary race was called. When this was pointed out to him by the Globe’s Samantha Gross on Twitter, Jacoby noted that Amore replied “Because we’re really good at data analysis. Key part of being an auditor.”

A sense of humor is welcome in a candidate. So is a traditional Republican candidate not from the Trump wing.

Berkshire candidate for Governor’s Council

The route North Adams’ Tara Jacobs took to become the District 8 nominee for governor’s council is a remarkable one. The population base in the district is around Springfield, but the three Springfield-area candidates divided the vote and the North Adams School committee member cruised to victory. The only Berkshire candidate on the state ballot, she will face Republican John Comerford, of Palmer, in November.

The Governor’s Council, a vestige of the beginning of state government, is only heard from when it messes up, which it did notably in 2013. The eight-member advisory board is also tasked with approving judicial nominees, and nine years ago five councilors from the Boston area rejected the nomination of Pittsfield attorney Michael McCarthy to a seat on the Southern Berkshire District Court. That happened even though the Berkshire political and judicial community had attested to McCarthy’s qualifications for the judgeship.

The five councilors were not obligated to explain their “no” votes and none did so. If elected, Jacobs says she wants to bring transparency to the board. Should she cast some light on this shadowy society, she will have done a public service.

U.S. House race

At the federal level, in the First Congressional District, Democratic Rep. Richard Neal, who was first elected to Congress in 1988, has a rare Republican challenger in Dean Martilli, a West Springfield businessman. On his website, Martilli describes himself as a fiscal conservative who opposes judicial activism (though presumably not the kind demonstrated by the overturning of Roe v. Wade) and the selective application of the law.

In the case of the latter, Martilli in a statement described the FBI’s court-sanctioned confiscation of documents former President Trump brought to Mar-a-Lago from the White House as the politicizing and weaponizing of the FBI. He claims Trump and his family are being threatened and harassed, adding “As Trump has said, ‘They are not coming after me, they are coming after you.’”

Actually, they are specifically coming after Trump. The Trump defense team’s stonewalling of the investigation attests to the troubling removal of the documents and the casual nature of their storage in Florida.

Bill Everhart is The Eagle’s former editorial page editor.

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