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As Diehl Announces Bid, Field Of GOP Challengers Opposing Sen. Warren Expands03:43
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State Rep. Geoff Diehl (Steve Brown/WBUR)
State Rep. Geoff Diehl (Steve Brown/WBUR)
This article is more than 3 years old.

Whitman state Rep. Geoff Diehl acknowledged it will be a tough race, but on Tuesday, he officially launched his bid for U.S. Senate in hopes of ousting Massachusetts' senior senator, Democrat Elizabeth Warren.

Diehl's entry into the race means the GOP field is beginning to take shape. He's the second Republican to formally announce a candidacy. Two other Republicans may also take the plunge.

In Facebook posts and tweets for over a year, Bay State conservatives have been enthusiastically urging Diehl to take on Warren, who, while popular among Democrats, has been a lightning rod for many on the right.

The 48-year-old was elected into the state House of Representatives seven years ago when he defeated a two-term Democratic incumbent. Three years ago, Diehl spearheaded the successful repeal of the gasoline tax index.

According to his campaign's Facebook bio, the father of two has worked in advertising and TV production before moving to Whitman — the hometown of his wife, KathyJo — where he became an account executive at Poyant Signs. Diehl is also an Eagle Scout.

Diehl, who is a favorite on the local conservative talk radio circuit, backed Donald Trump's bid for the presidency early on, serving as co-chairman of Trump's campaign in Massachusetts. He feels that, if elected, he can be effective working with the Trump administration on behalf of Massachusetts.

"That's what I think is going to be really interesting is going down to Washington, actually being able to have a voice, a seat at the table with the president," said Diehl. "Having a Republican governor like Charlie Baker in office I think helps as well.

"And I think the current sitting senator doesn't necessarily have the ability to deliver for Massachusetts in the way that I will be able to as a senator," he added.

While Diehl said he hopes he can capitalize on Baker's popularity, the two are often seen as coming from different wings of the state Republican Party.

"I think Charlie tends to lean more toward a moderate side as far as social issues, which is fine," Diehl said. "Again, I ran to be a fiscal conservative up on Beacon Hill. I am pro-life, but I also feel that marriage equality is fine.

"Ultimately, he and I both have the major similarity of wanting to deliver for Massachusetts and make sure that people get the services that they are paying for with their tax dollars," he added.

Diehl says he's not focusing on the Republican primary, but he is instead looking forward to a one-on-one showdown with Warren.

But to do so, he must first come out on top of what could be a growing field of Republican candidates.

Cambridge-based entrepreneur Dr. Shiva Ayyadurai, 53, entered the race earlier this year, and he is running way to the right of Diehl. Businessman John Kingston, 51, has launched an exploratory committee, and former Mitt Romney aide Beth Lindstrom is also considering a run.

Whoever wins the primary will most likely be sharing the top of the statewide ticket with Baker. The governor is remaining neutral in the U.S. Senate race, although many political observers see Baker having more in common with moderates Lindstrom and Kingston than conservatives Diehl and Ayyadurai.

The state Republican Party also appears to be remaining neutral on the race. MassGOP Chairman Kirsten Hughes said in a statement that the party "looks forward to supporting the Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate, who we know will make a strong case against Senator Warren's record of hyper-partisan obstruction, which is wrong for Massachusetts."

As for Warren, she was asked what she thought about the upcoming race, and specifically about Diehl. She skirted the question by saying she's just doing her job.

"I ran for the United States Senate because my life's work is about trying to give hard working families in this country a shot. Trying to give a shot to families who have just drawn the short end of the stick one time after another, after another," Warren said during a media availability in East Boston on Monday.

"That's what I get up and fight for every single day in Washington, and it's what I fight for across the commonwealth of Massachusetts, and nothing's going to change that," she added.

In the meantime, the Republican candidates will be out campaigning. They will be seeking to close a huge campaign finance gap between themselves and Warren, who as of June 30 had $11 million in her campaign war chest.

This segment aired on August 2, 2017.

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Steve Brown Twitter Senior Reporter/Anchor
Steve Brown is a veteran broadcast journalist who serves as WBUR's senior State House reporter.

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