The Republican Party of Massachusetts has a candidate to challenge a Democrat incumbent state representative, and the gas tax is going to be an issue.

Republican Evan Gendreau of Westport has come out of the gates early to challenge the incumbent Democrat who just voted to raise the consumer price of gasoline and diesel fuel.

Rep. Paul Schmitt of Westport is a Democrat in a district that is gerrymandered to keep a Democrat in office. The district he holds is a work of art in the world of politics. If his district existed in a southern state it likely would be challenged in the federal courts. You can see the district map for yourself here, but it encompasses Westport, Freetown, New Bedford and Fall River.

One of the few common links in the district is that most people have almost no public transportation services and they all buy gasoline for their automobiles. This week, Rep. Schmitt voted to increase the tax on gasoline for all Massachusetts consumers.

In 2014, the voters of Massachusetts rejected the gas tax increase and it is instructive to see how the voters of this contested districted communicated their opinion.

Westport: 2,861 voters against the increased gas tax to 2,370 for the increase

Freetown: Precinct 2 was 511 votes against to 415 in favor of the tax increase. Precinct 3 was 493 against the tax increase to 452 in favor.

New Bedford: Ward 1D favored the tax increase 370-321. Ward 1E favored the tax increase 294-274. Ward 1F favored the tax increase 369-312.

Fall River: Ward 1A voted by just three votes in support of increasing the gas tax. Ward 6A voted against the tax increase by a margin of 52 votes. Ward 6B favored the tax increase by 49 votes.

The gas tax increase is something the voters rejected in 2014. It is now up to Rep. Schmitt to explain why they were wrong then and why he is right now.

The Massachusetts GOP has a candidate in the race, but will they give him the support to topple an incumbent?

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 chris.mccarthy@townsquaremedia.com and follow him on Twitter @Chris_topher_Mc. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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