Doughty promises jobs and affordability in the Mass West. Stopping the campaign
SPRINGFIELD — Chris Doughty, one of two gubernatorial candidates in the Sept. 6 Republican primary, delivered a message in western Massachusetts on Monday centered on creating jobs and lowering the cost of living for families.
At an afternoon press conference outside the 9/11 monument in Riverfront Park, Doughty and his running mate Kate Campanale unveiled the outline of their plan to support economic growth in Pioneer Valley and the Berkshires , while offering reassurances to voters who are worried about the future of marriage equality and access to abortion.
“For so many years, people here felt forgotten and left behind, and we felt it. We heard that. For that reason we wanted to go out and come up with a plan,” said Doughty, a businessman from Wrentham, describing meetings with chambers of commerce, business leaders and constituents who shared their thoughts.
Details of the plan, he said, would be available on the campaign website on Tuesday, but written materials provided at the event indicate that on his first day in office, Doughty would ask “all departments executives to provide recommendations on how they can best serve”. Counties of Hampshire, Franklin, Hampden and Berkshire. Departments would have 100 days to report.
“Kate and I will look at every decision here in the context of jobs, jobs, jobs,” Doughty said. “We believe that having good jobs ends systemic poverty. It is what gives people prosperity and gives them opportunities. That’s what solves so many of society’s problems, good jobs. … So jobs are No. 1. No. 2 is to make it more affordable” to live in the area.
As part of the strategy to give the region “a seat at the table,” Doughty’s campaign said, Campanale would spend one day a week in western Massachusetts if the Republican ticket wins. She would also lead the effort to promote the tourism sector.
Campanale represented Worcester’s 17th District at the State House from 2015 to 2019.
“You have the story here. You have the [Basketball] Hall of Fame, you have museums. My nieces and nephews love going to the children’s museum here,” Campanale said. “There’s so much culture and art, and how do we get people here in the Mass West to educate them, to show them what Massachusetts is really about?” It’s not just an east coast. It’s here too, and I look forward to taking on that as Lieutenant Governor.
Doughty, an early office seeker with degrees in economics and business, started small auto parts and appliance maker Capstan Atlantic in 1992 and expanded it into a multinational company with several hundred employees.
Doughty is competing in the GOP primary against former Whitman state lawmaker Geoff Diehl, who won Donald Trump’s endorsement. Diehl has called for restrictions on mail-in voting, saying in February it was ‘fraught with problems in the last election’ and pushed for a ‘forensic audit’ of the 2020 presidential election that Trump has lost.
Asked about the winner of the 2020 presidential election on Monday, Doughty and Campanale said they had no hesitation in believing it was Joe Biden. In response to a message to Diehl asking him the same question and inquiring about specific plans for western Massachusetts, a spokesperson sent a statement that did not address the 2020 election.
Diehl, business development manager for TRQ Auto Parts in Pepperell, visited Hampshire County in April and Franklin County in May as part of his 14-stop “Berkshires to Boston” campaign tour of the state. He told the Recorder that he launched his campaign in Hadley “specifically as a way to send a message that I don’t plan to overlook central or western Massachusetts.”
In his statement Monday, Diehl told the Gazette, “I think we need greater fairness when it comes to allocating resources to different areas of our state, which generally means allocating more attention to the needs of Western MA and Cape Cod”.
He said he supports the construction of a west-east rail line – which Doughty also supports – and higher funding for improvements to municipal buildings and infrastructure, including bridges. He also said he recommends reforming the state’s Chapter 90 funding formula so that it takes more into account road miles than population.
The winner of the GOP primary will face Democratic Attorney General Maura Healey in the Nov. 8 general election. Republican Governor Charlie Baker is not seeking a third term.
Doughty said he would work to reduce energy costs for families, expand broadband access, increase aid to local governments, remove Western tolls on the Massachusetts and to rebuild the Roderick L. Ireland courthouse, which is the subject of ongoing litigation from employees who claim working there caused a variety of serious illnesses. He also mentioned Boston’s biotech industry and said it could serve as a model for what’s possible in western Massachusetts.
“The United States of America needs to stock up on chip manufacturing. Why not here, outside of Holyoke or Springfield or here in western Mass. said Doughty. “It would create a whole ecosystem of small businesses around it.”
As millions of Americans operate under new abortion access laws since the Supreme Court overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade this summer, Easthampton officials are considering a proposal to regulate pregnancy crisis centers, which counsel pregnant women but do not offer abortion or many contraceptive services.
Campanale said the High Court ruling returned abortion regulation to the states and the issue is a “legislative function, not an executive function.”
“I support pregnancy crisis centers,” she said, “but Massachusetts has already codified (abortion access) into law here.”
Doughty said he wanted to “add my assurances” that his policy plans do not target the status quo of abortion access in the state. When asked if they could give similar assurances about marriage equality and access to contraception, both agreed they could.
Doughty’s campaign said its goal was to create 250,000 new jobs in its first four-year term and “promote 10,000 new startups.” He said that a specific proposal related to affordable housing is coming.
Brian Steele can be contacted at [email protected]