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Diehl declines to debate Doughty, both separately answer questions

The pair of Republicans vying for their party’s nomination to be the state’s next governor separately made television appearances Sunday, after one candidate apparently declined an offer to briefly debate.

Former State Rep. Geoff Diehl won the party convention in May and is former President Donald Trump’s pick for the corner office. Despite that, his opponent, Wrentham businessman Chris Doughty, told WBZ’s John Keller that Diehl won’t be able to beat Attorney General Maura Healey in November.

“I can win. Geoff Diehl has lost the last three elections he ran for,” Doughty said. “We need someone that can go up against Maura Healey and actually win this time.”

“Why is (Diehl) unelectable, in your view?” Keller asked Doughty.

“He’s too extreme for our state,” Doughty said. “He pursues conspiracy theories, he has these beliefs that just aren’t consistent with the state of Massachusetts. It makes him not electable.”

“Let’s see what happens on September 6,” Diehl later said in response. “That claim, of course, is going to come from any challenger.”

Both Republicans were asked about Trump and abortion.

Diehl says he still supports the former president.

“Yeah, I mean look, he’s endorsed me in this race, I think we had four great years under his administration, so I definitely would support his candidacy if he decides to run,” he said.

Doughty said he thinks it’s time for Republicans to move on.

“I’m one of these Republicans who thinks it’s time for a fresh face in the Republican Party and so I’m hopeful that we have some new people that come into our party to run,” Doughty said.

The pair had differing answers when it comes to abortion as well.

“Since I got into the race we had the overturn of Roe v. Wade, and there is a lot of sensitivity on this so I’ve been saying as clearly as I possibly can that abortions are safe and legal in Massachusetts, and I have no intention at all of changing it,” Doughty said.

“I want to protect life whenever I can, I think I’m on record with that,” Diehl said when asked if he would make changes to the state’s abortion laws.

Keller said Diehl declined to appear alongside Doughty for a “mini-debate” to be aired Sunday and both men briefly answered questions for Keller’s Sunday politics show instead.

“Geoff agreed to debate his opponent twice. They debated on 7/20. Then, Geoff showed up for the second debate on 8/11, and his opponent refused,” Amanda Orlando, Diehl’s campaign manager, told the Herald.

“Keller stated at the beginning of the segment that Diehl did not agree to debate. There have been nine offers beyond radio to debate. He turned everyone down. He even turned down a rematch on Howie Carr,” Doughty’s campaign said in response.

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