Sep 7, 2022 - Politics

Massachussetts takes a step toward one-party rule

Illustration of a donkey with a gavel in its mouth
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Massachusetts voters could be set to usher in a new era of one-party rule on Beacon Hill after Republicans chose Geoff Diehl, a hardline gubernatorial nominee with ties to former President Donald Trump, to fight an uphill battle against the popular and possibly historic campaign of Democratic Attorney General Maura Healey.

What's happening: In a state that voted 2-to-1 in favor of Joe Biden over Donald Trump, the nomination of a Trump-backed Republican ticket means Democrats will very likely once again control every facet of Massachusetts state government.

The backdrop: Gov. Charlie Baker, a moderate Republican, along with his lieutenant governor Karyn Polito, have been the only statewide officials elected from the GOP in the last eight years.

  • Democrats dominate the state legislature by wide margins, though the progressive and conservative wings of the House and Senate sometimes clash.
  • Without a Republican in the corner office to push back against them, Democrats will have the ability to push for higher spending and a more liberal legislative agenda.

Reality check: While popular with the 9.7% of voters registered as Republicans and a good deal more unenrolled voters, Diehl's track record running in elections is not stellar.

  • In his first and only statewide run, Diehl lost his bid for a U.S. Senate seat to incumbent Elizabeth Warren by over 24 percentage points in 2018.
  • A 2015 special election for state Senate saw Diehl lose to his Democratic opponent by over 16 percentage points.
  • Diehl had better luck in 2014 when he led a ballot question campaign to eliminate automatic increases to the gas tax. The effort passed by 6%.

What they're saying: "Competition in different branches of government is a good thing from, basically, the watchdog perspective that the different parties play on each other," UMass Boston political science professor Erin O'Brien told Axios.

  • O'Brien said one-party control is typically associated with higher levels of corruption in government.
  • She said Democratic dominance would also put pressure on the legislature to pass significant new policies.

The big picture: If Healey takes office, legislative leaders won't need to worry as much about compromising with conservative Democrats to muster the two-thirds majorities needed to override a veto from the governor.

  • If backed by Healey, progressive proposals such as ending local and state involvement in immigration enforcement, updating sexual education standards and increasing carbon emission standards could more easily become law.
avatar

Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Boston.

🌱

Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Boston stories

No stories could be found

Bostonpostcard

Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Boston.

🌱

Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more