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Candidates Allen, Campanale split on Trump’s influence in Bay State Politics



By Sam Doran

STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, AUG. 16, 2022…..Former President Donald Trump emerged as a wedge in Monday’s debate between the two Republican candidates for lieutenant governor, with one citing Trump as a model and the other saying that too close of an association with the 45th president is a losing formula in the Bay State.

“I think that the policies that we had under the former president [Trump] are what we are running on,” Leah Cole Allen said, listing energy independence, border security, and low unemployment as examples. Allen’s campaign is aligned with gubernatorial candidate Geoff Diehl, who was endorsed by Trump last October.

Asked whether Trump’s endorsement is a positive for their campaign, Allen said, “Well, it hasn’t hurt us so far. People are very upset with President Joe Biden.”

Kate Campanale, who’s running alongside gubernatorial candidate Chris Doughty, said their campaign is “not focused on national politics” and knocked the endorsement as “guaranteeing a lose in November here in Massachusetts.”

Trump only earned around 32 percent of the vote in Massachusetts in 2020 compared to Biden’s 65 percent, though Biden’s approval rating in the Bay State was down to 41 percent — with 48 percent disapproval — in a poll released last month.

“Both of our opponents, on the right and the left, are so focused on this one man,” Campanale said of Trump.

“One wants to be like them, the other wants to sue them — and happy to do that over a hundred times,” she added, referring to Diehl and then to Democrat candidate Maura Healey who repeatedly sued the Trump administration in her capacity as attorney general.

Allen shot back that Doughty had voted for Trump in 2020, “so I would assume that that means that he saw that his policies were better for his business, better for his family, and became a de facto Trump supporter.”

Campanale pitched the Doughty ticket as a centrist option.

“We’re talking to those people who are exhausted with party politics, and our message of affordability, of good schools for our kids, of making sure our communities are funded, is resonating,” she said.

Both Allen and Campanale are former state representatives. Their time in the House overlapped for around nine months in 2015, before Allen — who was then Leah Cole — resigned effective Sept. 28 to prioritize her nursing career.

When a moderator asked Campanale about the new law that opens up driver’s license access to immigrants without legal status, which the Legislature passed over Gov. Charlie Baker’s veto, Campanale pivoted to Allen’s abrupt departure from the Legislature.

“Now, my opponent had the opportunity to talk on the House floor, to represent her constituents on this very issue in 2016 when it was debated on the House floor, but she wasn’t there. Because she quit. She left her constituents without a voice and she was absent,” Campanale said.

The issue of immigrant driver’s licenses surfaced in the Legislature in 2016 as part of a REAL ID measure tacked onto the fiscal 2017 budget, which was debated in the House in April and returned by Baker with an amendment over the summer.

By that point, Allen’s former constituents were represented by Democrat Rep. Tom Walsh who won a special election in March.

Allen swiped back at Campanale’s charge in her closing statement.

“You want to constantly bash Geoff Diehl for being a career politician, and then you also want to bash me for not being a career politician. Where you, you started as a staffer at the State House, you ran, you were a state representative, you left the Legislature to run for register of deeds, you lost that race, and then you returned to run for lieutenant governor after having a state job in between,” Allen said.

Both candidates said they would turn to tax cuts to help struggling Bay Staters, with Campanale citing Doughty’s multi-pronged tax platform, and Allen saying she would like to cut the gas tax and roll back the state income tax. Allen also said that a boost to local agriculture could help.

The lieutenant governor’s position is largely what each administration makes of it.

Campanale said she liked Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito’s role as a point-person dealing with city and town governments and would also look to take the lead on “restoring” Massachusetts’ tourism industry.

Allen said she wanted to continue Polito’s work advocating on behalf of domestic abuse survivors, along with making sure municipalities are “getting what they need to hold the line on taxes.”

In a break for some lighter questioning, Campanale said she was currently reading “Winter in Paradise” by Elin Hilderbrand, and Allen, a mother of two children, said she hasn’t had much time to read books herself but recently read her daughter the children’s book “Giraffes Can’t Dance.”

Allen said she enjoys podcasts about health and local organic farming, while Campanale prefers Kenny Chesney’s No Shoes Radio, a sattelite station.

Asked who she’d carve into a “Massachusetts Mount Rushmore,” Allen seemed to be considering government figures before saying, “I don’t tend to idolize public servants or people in office so that’s definitely a difficult one for me.” Campanale would fill her local Mount Rushmore with sports greats (Bob Cousy, Tom Brady, Bobby Orr and David Ortiz).

And neither seems to be a frequent straphanger.

A moderator asked whether they ride the T, and if so, what route they take.

Campanale referenced a recent campaign ride she took from Riverside to Park Street and said she “enjoyed that trip.”

Allen recalled her high school years, when she had a “co-op week” internship in downtown Boston.

“I used to ride from Wonderland to Government Center, on — I think it was the Green Line,” she said.

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