Rep. Geoff Diehl Wins Despite Losing Election [OPINION]
Geoff Diehl lost the U.S. Senate election to incumbent Elizabeth Warren. He also built a political party of his own in the Bay State.
Nobody likes to lose, and failure hurts. Geoff Diehl has spent more than a year running for the U.S. Senate and he came up short. But in politics, there are victories inside of loses. Diehl has built a political party in Massachusetts, and that is no small victory.
Diehl gave up his safe state representative seat to fight for the opportunity to take on Sen. Elizabeth Warren. It wasn't an easy fight. The field of Republicans originally lining up to take on the Democrat firebrand was strong from the start.
The field included Diehl, two very wealthy businessmen, a former Cabinet Secretary for Gov. Mitt Romney, and some activists within the party. All of the candidates needed to get at least 15 percent of the delegates to the state convention to vote for them to appear on the primary ballot.
The candidates traveled for months all over the state and pitched themselves to potential delegates. When they got to the convention, only the strong had survived. The field was Rep. Diehl; John Kingston, a wealthy businessman, and philanthropist; and Beth Lindstrom who had been a state cabinet secretary and the former executive director of the Massachusetts Republican Party.
Diehl was able to muscle out a victory over wo top opponents at the convention. The convention win was his first victory in the race, but it really meant little to the race. Winning the convention just made him the "official" nominee of the state party. The real fight was yet to come between the three candidates. The opportunity to battle Sen. Warren would be earned by the winner of the state Republican primary in September.
In 1990, William Weld lost the state convention to State Rep. Steve Pierce. Both wanted to be governor of the Commonwealth. Weld didn't give up after the convention loss, and he battled back to beat Pierce in the primary and then bested Democrat John Silber. Weld became the governor, and Steve Pierce went to work at the state division of wildlife management.
John Kingston, Beth Lindstrom, and Geoff Diehl all knew the lessons of the 1990 campaign for governor, and they acted accordingly. They all ramped up their fundraising and advertising and were regulars in the media.
However, Rep. Diehl had the most aggressive talk radio booking operation I have experienced. He was all over the radio, talking directly to the people who had voted for Donald Trump in 2016 Massachusetts' Republican presidential primary. Talk radio was his not-so-secret weapon, and he won the primary.
Diehl built a political party of his own to win the convention and the primary. He has an army of volunteers and he has their email addresses and their cell phone numbers. He has people who will go out and put up signs for him and go door-to-door for him. He also has a list of donors that will contribute to his campaign.
His campaign brought in the direct mail company of Bruce Eberle early on in the cycle. Eberle cut his teeth doing direct mail for Ronald Reagan when he challenged President Gerald Ford for the Republican nomination in 1976. Eberle's importance in funding the Reagan Revolution and the conservative movement is legendary (see Craig Shirley's book Reagan's Revolution for more on direct mail and Bruce Eberle).
Every army requires a commanding general to develop the strategy, bring in the proper tactics and execute tasks according to a demanding schedule and on shifting grounds. Step up, General Holly Robichaud of Tuesday Associates, and collect your next star for leading Diehl's campaign. Robichaud delivered two wins before they lost to Warren.
Diehl lost to Sen. Warren, but he has earned a loyal following of activists and that is a victory. He had the courage to give up his House seat and take on a national figure, and he did it with class and dignity. This isn't the last we hear from Geoff Diehl or the political movement he built in Massachusetts.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @Chris_topher_Mc. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.