According to a report from Politico, the future direction of the Republican Party may be playing out in Massachusetts, of all places, as a Donald Trump-endorsed candidate faces off with a mainstream conservative to be the party's nominee for governor in a race the eventual winner will likely lose.
As Politico's Lisa Kashinsky wrote, Attorney General Maura Healey will likely be the Democratic nominee and will face either Geoff Diehl -- a failed U.S. Senate candidate currently being advised by Trump-linked Corey Lewandowski -- or moderate Republican businessman Chris Doughty.
That battle for supremacy before the Sept. 6 primary has Republican 2024 presidential hopefuls coming to the state in what is being called a "proxy war" over the future of Trumpism in this election and the next one in 2024.
According to the report, on one side, there is Gov. Chris Sununu (R) of neighboring New Hampshire who is trying to move the party away from the Trump years and is crossing state lines to stump for Doughty, and then there is South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R) who will be making appearances for Diehl in an effort to boost her own national profile with an eye on 2024.
As Kashinsky wrote, "this is as much a battle for the future of the Republican Party as it is one for attention heading into 2024," before adding, "While Sununu gets plenty of play in his home state, fly-in politicians can get exposure in New Hampshire just by showing up in Massachusetts. The state is a media and money gateway to the first-in-the-nation primary state, offering would-be presidential hopefuls the chance to get on television screens in voter-rich southern New Hampshire and connect with deep-pocketed Massachusetts donors without the direct scrutiny that comes with stepping foot in the Granite State."
According to GOP campaign strategist Patrick Griffin, despite the fact that both candidates have little chance of beating the eventual Democratic candidate in November, the primary battle is also a referendum on Trumpism.
“Kristi Noem’s got plans. Chris Sununu’s got plans,” Griffin explained. “This is all about standing up for where the party’s going and trying to direct it in a way or lead it in a way where we can win more elections, not less.”
Strategist Colin Reed agreed, "There’s no sense in investing in lost causes, but if you can use it to make a mark or increase your own name ID in a critical part of the country, as they say: there’s no interest like self-interest.”
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