Doughty pledges jobs, affordability in western Mass. campaign stop 

  • Kate Campanale, Republican candidate for lieutenant governor of Massachusetts, right, and Chris Doughty, Republican candidate for governor, make a campaign stop Monday at Springfield’s Riverfront Park. STAFF PHOTO/BRIAN STEELE

  • STAFF PHOTO/BRIAN STEELE STAFF PHOTO/BRIAN STEELE

Staff Writer
Published: 8/1/2022 8:11:21 PM
Modified: 8/1/2022 8:09:47 PM

SPRINGFIELD — Chris Doughty, one of two candidates for governor running in the Republican primary on Sept. 6, pitched a western Massachusetts message on Monday that centers on job creation and lowering the cost of living for families.

During an afternoon press conference in front of the Sept. 11 Monument at Riverfront Park, Doughty and running mate Kate Campanale unveiled the broad strokes of their plan to support economic growth in the Pioneer Valley and the Berkshires, while also offering assurances to voters who are worried about the future of marriage equality and access to abortion.

“For so many years, the people out here have felt forgotten and left behind, and we’ve felt that. We’ve heard that. For that reason, we wanted to come out and develop a plan,” Doughty, a Wrentham businessman, said, describing meetings with chambers of commerce, business leaders and voters who shared their thoughts.

The plan’s particulars, he said, would be available on the campaign website on Tuesday, but written materials provided at the event say that on his first day in office, Doughty would direct “all executive departments to provide recommendations for how they can better serve” Hampshire, Franklin, Hampden and Berkshire counties. The departments would have 100 days to report back.

“Kate and I will look at every decision out here through the context of jobs, jobs, jobs,” Doughty said. “We believe having good jobs ends systemic poverty. It’s what gives people prosperity and gives people opportunity. It’s what solves so many societal problems, is 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 per week in western Massachusetts if the Republican ticket is elected. She also would lead the effort to promote the tourism sector.

Campanale represented the 17th Worcester District in the state House from 2015-19.

“You have history here. You have the [Basketball] Hall of Fame, you have museums. My nieces and nephews love to go the children’s museum out here,” Campanale said. “There’s so much culture and art, and how do we bring people here to western Mass. to educate them, to show them what Massachusetts really is? It’s not just an east coast. It’s here, as well, and I look forward to taking that up as lieutenant governor.”

Republican rivals

Doughty, a first-time office seeker with degrees in economics and business, started the small auto and appliance parts manufacturer Capstan Atlantic in 1992 and expanded it to a multinational company with several hundred employees.

Doughty is competing in the GOP primary against former Whitman state lawmaker Geoff Diehl, who has earned the endorsement of Donald Trump. Diehl has called for restrictions on mail-in voting, saying in February that it was “fraught with issues in the past election,” and pushed for a “forensic audit” of the 2020 presidential election that Trump lost.

Asked on Monday who won the 2020 presidential election, both Doughty and Campanale said they have not wavered in their belief that 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, the director of business development 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 kicked off his campaign in Hadley “specifically as a way to send a message that I do not plan on overlooking central or western Massachusetts.”

In his Monday statement, Diehl told the Gazette, “I believe we need greater equity when it comes to allocating resources to different areas of our state, which generally means paying 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 backs — and higher funding for the improvement of municipal buildings and infrastructure, including bridges. He also said he recommends reforming the state’s Chapter 90 funding formula so it accounts more for road miles instead of population.

The winner of the GOP primary will face Democratic Attorney General Maura Healey in the Nov. 8 general election. Republican Gov. Charlie Baker is not seeking a third term.

Business ecosystem

Doughty said he would work to lower energy costs for families, expand access to broadband, increase aid to local governments, remove western tolls on the Massachusetts Turnpike and rebuild the Roderick L. Ireland courthouse, which is the subject of ongoing litigation from employees who claim that working there caused a variety of seriously illnesses. He also mentioned the Boston biotech industry and said it can serve as a model for what’s possible in western Massachusetts.

“The United States of America needs to in-source chip manufacturing. Why not here, outside of Holyoke or Springfield or out here in western Mass.?” Doughty said. “It would build a whole ecosystem of small businesses around it.”

As millions of Americans operate under new laws for abortion access since the Supreme Court overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade decision this summer, officials in Easthampton are considering a proposal to regulate crisis pregnancy centers, which counsel pregnant women but do not offer abortion or many contraception services.

Campanale said the high court’s ruling returned abortion regulation to the states and that the issue is a “legislative function, not an executive function.”

“I do 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 were not targeting the abortion access status quo in the state. Asked if they could make similar assurances about marriage equality and contraception access, both agreed that they could.

Doughty’s campaign said his goal is to create 250,000 new jobs in his first four-year term and “promote 10,000 new startups.” He said a specific proposal related to affordable housing is forthcoming.

Brian Steele can be reached at bsteele@gazettenet.com.
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