The GOP nomination race for the U.S. Senate is showing how important Bristol County is to Republicans in the Bay State, and how much it has changed politically.

The race to replace Senator Liz Warren has attracted a wealth of talent to the Republican primary.

The candidates who are likely to emerge from the convention with at least 15% of the delegates and have enough signatures to make the ballot are Beth Lindstrom, John Kingston, and Rep. Geoff Diehl.

Central to their efforts to get enough delegates and signatures in this campaign is Bristol County. Over the years, the county has changed significantly, and there are many locally elected Republican officials and a wealth of activists who do the volunteer work that wins campaigns.

Massachusetts requires 10,000 certified signatures for a candidate to get on the ballot for the U.S. Senate. That means lots of people have to volunteer to support a candidate.

The biggest factor in Bristol County GOP politics is Sheriff Tom Hodgson, who has been re-elected multiple times against incredible odds and the full force of the Democrats...but more about him later.

Beth Lindstrom, a small business owner, a former cabinet secretary in Gov. Mitt Romney's administration, and the first female executive director of the Massachusetts Republican Party is making a showing in Bristol County. She has the endorsement of State Rep. Betty Poirier of North Attleboro. Rep. Poirier is on the GOP leadership team in the State House, and a proven vote-gatherer in the county.

Another supporter of Lindstrom is state Senator Richard Ross, who replaced Scott Brown when he was elected to the U.S. Senate. Senator Ross represents strong GOP areas of Bristol County, and is a member of his party's leadership team in the state senate.

Businessman John Kingston has earned a considerable fortune in business, and he is spending on his campaign as he has done with other causes important to him. Among his supporters is intelligent and energetic uber GOP leader Jacob Ventura of Attleboro. Ventura is a young attorney who was a Republican candidate for the state senate last year, and he is returning again this year to face the Democrat incumbent.

Having Ventura on his team is a double bonus for Kingston in Bristol County, because the attorney is originally from Dartmouth. He still has a strong influence in the area that he earned as a loyal party activist and as a hard worker. Kingston has indicated the importance of Bristol County by scheduling his wife to attend a Dartmouth GOP event later this week.

State Rep. Geoff Diehl has built the most impressive campaign among the GOP in Bristol County. He earned the endorsement of Sheriff Tom Hodgson early on, and he chose New Bedford as one of the spots to announce his campaign.

Sheriff Hodgson, one of the most influential members of the GOP in the nation, has consistently been re-elected by the voters of his county. He will be speaking on behalf of Diehl in Dartmouth this week.

Taunton State Representative Shawna O'Connell is also a strong supporter of Diehl in this election, and she is highly respected by the people in Bristol County.

Rep. Geoff Diehl supported Donald Trump when he was running for President against a huge field of Republicans. The Republican voters of Bristol County overwhelming supported Trump in the 2016 primary. Trump received 25,685 votes out of 47,028 cast in the county. The closest rival to Trump was Sen. Marco Rubio, who received just 7,640 votes in the primary.

The Republican voters of Bristol County love Sheriff Hodgson, and they love President Trump, and that looks good for Rep. Diehl.

Chris McCarthy is the host of The Chris McCarthy Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from 10 a.m. to noon. Contact him at and follow him on Twitter @Chris_topher_Mc. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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