BOSTON — Massachusetts Republicans have their first official 2022 candidate for governor — and it’s not Gov. Charlie Baker.
Geoff Diehl, a former GOP state representative from Whitman, announced Sunday that he’s running for the state’s top political office.
Diehl, who launched an unsuccessful challenge to Democratic U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren in 2018, revealed the decision on a website that outlines a series of policy steps he’d push for if elected — including lower taxes, help for small businesses and opposition to new regulations aimed at police.
“It is time for a new path forward,” Diehl said in a statement. “It is time to re-empower the individual. It is time to free our economy. It is time to help our children overcome the damage inflicted by government over this past year.”
Diehl, who also served as co-chair for former president Donald Trump’s Massachusetts 2016 presidential campaign, is the first Republican to officially jump into the race.
Baker remains popular in the state, but has yet to say whether he will seek a third term. Deihl’s decision could put pressure on Baker to announce whether he will call it a day on Beacon Hill or run for another four years. If Baker opts out of another run, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito would be a likely GOP candidate for governor.
On taxes, Diehl pledged to “pass a budget that eliminates the reckless spending that has taken hold on Beacon Hill and in Washington.”
“We’re already suffering from the high cost of inflation with housing, food and gas due to DC printing money and putting generations of our families in debt,” Diehl said on his website. “The Diehl Administration will protect your wallet and allow you to enjoy the savings and economic freedom your hard work earned.”
Diehl also faulted Baker for deeming many small businesses “nonessential” during the early months of the pandemic, resulting in layoffs while state employees were able to keep their jobs. Baker said he took the emergency steps during the height of the pandemic to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
The Democratic roster for governor is already filling up.
State Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz, a critic of Baker’s handling of the pandemic, announced last month she is running for governor.
Chang-Diaz, the only woman of color in the Massachusetts Senate, ticked off a series of key issues, from support for the proposed so-called “millionaire tax” constitutional amendment to closing the racial wealth gap in Massachusetts.
“Our state is at a turning point now and we face a choice. Do we go back to business as usual or do we run toward problems with the urgency and determination to solve them?” she said in a video.
A week before Chang-Diaz’s announcement, another Democrat — Harvard University professor Danielle Allen — announced her candidacy, pledging to “accelerate the pace of change" in the state.
The Cambridge resident is the first Black woman to run for governor in a major political party in state history.
Former state Sen. Ben Downing was the first Democrat to announce a run earlier this year.
The Pittsfield native, who currently lives in Boston, said the state’s current leadership has shown a “lack of urgency” to adequately address the coronavirus pandemic, racial inequity and climate change.
Attorney General Maura Healey has also been seen as a possible Democratic candidate, although she has yet to say whether she is planning to run.