Good Wednesday morning,
Many expected that after the primary Republican Geoff Diehl would pivot to the center, if not because of his ideology than out of necessity to make his campaign for governor against Attorney General Maura Healey competitive.
It hasn't exactly turned out that way.
With just over three weeks until election day and voting by mail getting started, Diehl has continued to turn to conservative media to get his message out. And that message, at times, has been calibrated to energize the far right.
Consider his schedule yesterday. A day before the first of two debates planned of the cycle with Healey, Diehl made appearances on Newsmax, WRKO's The Kuhner Report and The First TV, a conservative network started in 2019 and home to Bill O'Reilly. Not exactly broadening his audience, or his appeal.
With Jeff Kuhner pumping him up as a "warrior" who needed to "take it" to Healey tonight, Diehl blamed Healey for supporting policies that he said make Massachusetts a "magnet" for illegal immigration and falsely claimed that the law making undocumented immigrants eligible for driver's licenses "includes a provision, based on the 2018 motor voter law, that automatically enrolls them to become voters."
The law actually explicitly prohibits such license applicants from taking part in automatic voter registration.
He also leaned into the GOP talking points that the state's expanded abortion laws sanction "infanticide" by allowing doctors to deny treatment to newborns who survive failed abortions - something doctors have disputed.
Both issues are likely to come up at tonight's debate hosted by NBC10, NECN and Telemundo. The question is whether Diehl will soften his talking points in front of a larger statewide audience, or stick to what's got him here.
Healey has already been trying to paint Diehl as an extremist on abortion, and she's unlikely to stop now. Diehl is also playing up his underdog status, a la Trump, describing tonight's debate as four against one, including Healey, the moderator and panelists asking questions.
"I know exactly what I'm walking into, but it's Ok because I'm speaking for the people of Massachusetts," Diehl said.
VOTING WITH THEIR FEET?: A new analysis of IRS and Census data performed by the Tax Foundation found that Massachusetts lost 36,982 taxpayers in 2019 and early 2020 at the start of the pandemic, enough to rank it fourth from the bottom nationwide in terms of states losing population. The out-migration accounted for 20,395 filers and about $2.5 billion in adjusted gross income, according to the report, with 2,116 returns with income over $200,000 coming off the books.
Massachusetts trailed only Illinois, California and New York - much larger states - in overall population loss. While the Tax Foundation allowed for the fact that many factors can contribute to someone's decision to move, the report flagged that states with "progressive tax codes," or those that charge steeper rates as you move up the income ladder, have seen the greatest loss of population. Massachusetts voters next month will decide whether to add a surtax of 4 percent on all income above $1 million, which would be the state's first move away from a flat income tax.
MR. POPULAR: Gov. Charlie Baker is not on the ballot this fall, but he's back on top of the pedestal once again as the nation's most popular governor. Morning Consult's quarterly survey of voters and their views on their home state governor put Baker's approval rating at 74 percent. It was enough to earn the top spot ahead of Vermont Gov. Phil Scott and Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan after Baker fell to third (gasp!) during the second quarter with a 73 percent approval rating.