The door to the U.S. Senate may have just closed on Geoffrey Diehl, but the former state representative says he is now searching for his window to the next opportunity.
Statewide, Warren held a 60-36 margin of victory over Diehl based on unofficial results with Independent Shiva Ayyadurai taking about 3 percent of the votes cast. Locally, the picture was a mirror image for Warren and Diehl, as the Whitman Republican took his hometown of Whitman by a 3,888 to 2,641 margin of 6,776 votes cast. Hanson voters went for Diehl by a larger margin — 3,104 to 1,909 for Warren. Ayyadurai garnered 175 votes in Whitman and 124 in Hanson.
Hanson also narrowly voted to support two town ballot questions — 2,641 Yes to 2,354 No on Question 1 and 2,630 Yes to 2,357 No on Question 2 — that prohibit retail cannabis businesses in town.
Diehl’s strongest bases of support were on the South Shore, central Worcester County and towns southwest of Springfield.
“We left no stone unturned,” Diehl said to supporters Tuesday night at the Whitman VFW. “And I know I gave it my all, but I also know that you gave it your all.” He quoted a 19th-Century philosopher’s dictum that, “If you learn from a loss, you really haven’t lost.”
Diehl said he was very glad to have the chance to debate incumbent U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and talk about the issues.
“I’m hoping that she will focus on those issues that are important, whether it’s law enforcement, the fishing industry or the other issues we brought up,” Diehl said. “So, while the outcome is not what we wanted, we’ve laid the foundation for taking Massachusetts back for the working people.”
Warren, making her victory speech after 11 p.m. in Boston vowed to do just that, as well as to continue fighting to empower women.
“Together, women and men, young and old, black and white, gay and straight in cities big and small have built something extraordinary,” she said, telling the crowd they have more power than they ever imagined and “you gotta stay in the fight. … It’s going to be hard, nevertheless we will persist and we will deliver the change our country deserves.”
Warren lauded Diehl for “stepping up” and taking on the hard and expensive task of running for office, thanking him for his efforts along with all others who campaigned for office or supported one.
“You make democracy work,” she said. “Whether you voted for me or not, I am grateful for the opportunity to fight for you.”
Diehl addressed his supporters in a short, gracious concession speech shortly before 9 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 6. His race had been called as a victory for Warren shortly after polls closed at 8 p.m. — first by the Associated Press and then by other news outlets including CBS. It had been a long day of traveling around the state for last-minute meet-and-greets with voters.
Around the ballot
Whitman supported Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito 5,031 to 1,457 for the Democratic ticket of Jay Gonzalez and Quentin Palfrey. Hanson backed Baker/Polito 3,949 to 1,003 for Gonzalez/Palfrey.
Attorney General Maura Healy won both towns, with a 3,897 to 2,699 margin over Republican James McMahon III in Whitman and by a close 2,756 to 2,287 in Hanson.
Secretary of State Bill Galvin received 4,233 votes in Whitman and 3,071 in Hanson to Republican Anthony Amore’s 2,065 in Whitman and 1,820 in Hanson. Green Rainbow candidate Juan Sanchez Jr. got 178 votes in Whitman and 104 in Hanson.
Treasurer Deborah Goldberg garnered 3,639 in Whitman and 2,620 in Hanson to Republican Keiko Orral’s 2,566 in Whitman and 2,186 in Hanson with Green Rainbow candidate Jamie Guerin getting 102 Hanson votes and 183 in Whitman.
Auditor Suzanne Bump held off three rivals, and gained 3,485 votes in Whitman and 2,430 in Hanson with Republican Helen Brady a close second with 2,592 in Whitman and 2,272 in Hanson. Libertarian Daniel Fishman received 212 Whitman votes and 167 in Hanson while Green Rainbow candidate Edward Stamas took 104 votes in Whitman and 60 in Hanson.
Whitman’s Congressman Stephen Lynch, running unopposed, received 5,206 votes in Whitman. Hanson gave U.S. Rep. Bill Keating, D-Mass., fewer votes — 2,470 — than his Republican challenger Peter Tedeschi received — 2,536 — but Keating took the win by a 20-percent margin in the district.
Governor’s Councilor Christopher Iannella won a handy re-election with 4,871 votes in Whitman and 3,547 in Hanson against a handful of write-in votes.
State House races were won locally by Abington’s Alyson Sullivan in the 7th Plymouth District [see related story], taking Whitman with 3,757 votes to Democrat Alex Bezanson’s 2,753.
Hanson state Rep. Josh Cutler, D-Duxbury, was unchallenged in the 6th Plymouth District, taking 3,823 of the votes cast.
State Sen. Mike Brady, D-Brockton, was also re-elected, taking Whitman with 3,698 votes to Republican Scott Hall’s 2,719 and Hanson by 2,656 to Hall’s 2,230.
Plymouth District Attorney Timothy Cruz won re-election with the help of 4,111 votes to Democrat John Bradley Jr.’s 2,425 in Whitman and with 3,331 to Bradley’s 1,656 in Hanson.
Robert Creedon, running unopposed for Plymouth County Clerk of Courts got 4,965 in Whitman and 3,619 in Hanson. Also running unopposed, Registrar of Deeds John Buckley Jr., tallied 3,612 in Hanson and 4,984 in Whitman. Unchallenged County Commissioner Sandra Wright won 3,782 Hanson votes and 4,911 in Whitman.
Only state Ballot Question 1 on nursing staffing went down to defeat — by a 2-to-1 margin statewide and with 3,720 No votes to 1,397 Yes in Hanson and 4,833 No votes to 1,759 Yes in Whitman.
State Question 2, seeking a U.S. Constitution amendment to limit the influence of corporate money in elections won by a 71-percent to 29-percent margin — with 4,270 Yes votes to 2,301 No in Whitman and 3,173 Yes to 1,811 No in Hanson. State Question 3, to continue protections of transgender rights won with a state margin of about 68 percent to 32 percent, and with 3,734 voting Yes to 2,906 voting No in Whitman and 2,803 voting Yes to 2,285 voting No in Hanson.
The Senate race result, and the fast call was met with anger and disbelief by Diehl supporters, including Whitman School Committee member Fred Small.
“How can they call it so fast?” he demanded.
Former sports broadcaster John Dennis, who has become a fixture at Diehl campaign events, also expressed disappointment in the results as he introduced Diehl.
“The results aren’t what we wanted them to be,” he said, noting some people calling him during the evening had asked if he was upset or angry. “I think the word is disappointed, but I want to make it clear that I’m not disappointed in Massachusetts voters — I’m disappointed for Massachusetts voters.”
He said, in his opinion, the state has missed a golden opportunity to be represented in the Senate by “a man of integrity and compassion and commitment.”
But looking on the bright side, Dennis said he made a valuable lifelong friend in the process, introducing Diehl.
Earlier in the day, Small and fellow School Committee member Dan Cullity had predicted a Diehl win that would shock the nation.
“Everywhere I go, everyone I speak to, everybody is voting for Geoff Diehl,” Small said Tuesday afternoon while sign-holding for his candidate. “They just can’t stomach her. … they’ve heard Geoff, they believe in him being able to work for them.”
Cullity said he saw another Scott Brown surprise, saying polls are rigged and can’t be believed, and said he viewed the Senate election as more of a referendum on Warren than Trump.
“In this area, nobody likes Trump except for crazy people like me,” he said with a laugh.
“I absolutely, positively hate a lot of what [Trump] says at times, but I love what he’s doing in office,” Small said. “This senate race here is going to be the shot heard around the country when it’s all said and done.”
Diehl’s father in-law, Joe Boss, and his friend Paul Brown had also expressed confidence in the day’s outcome.
“I’m feeling very good,” Boss said. “I think he’s worked really, really hard and the conversations I’ve had with anybody — anybody — is that, even if they are Democrats, they’re going to vote for Geoff.”
Cullity and Small had the same experiences with their talks across the state with Democrats they knew and with whom they worked.
Supporters of Democratic candidates were equally certain of their chances, although Whitman Selectman Randy LaMattina conceded that state Rep. Candidate Alex Bezanson faced a tough opponent in the eventual winner Alyson Sullivan.
“It’s guaranteed,” LaMattina said of Warren’s re-election Tuesday morning. “This state has woken up and realized the Blue Wave is here.”
He said early voting and people’s realization of the importance of the election would negate any effect a rainy forecast would have on turnout.
Whitman resident Randy Hill echoed voter trends across the country, citing health care and Trump’s policies and divisive speech.
“I want to keep health care the way it is and to stop the Trump agenda going forward and I think we have very qualified candidates who can do so,” Hill said. “I love our chances today. The country has given the president two years to see what he can do and people are not liking the divisiveness that is projected from the president.”
Cameron Thomas, 11, who held a Bezanson sign at the polls, meanwhile said he just plain liked his candidate.
While Question 1 on patient limits was trounced 70 to 30 percent at the polls, Hanson nurse Kathy Sussky spent time in the morning holding a “Yes on 1” sign and talking to voters.
“More nurses are going to equal better, safer care for patients,” she said. “I think it’s shameful that the ‘No’ campaign has been spreading lies about what is going to happen to ER wait times and people not being seen in the emergency room.”
The similarity in lawn sign design was an indication of that, she said, indicating she saw a tight 50-50 race on the question.
“Nurses will never turn away patients,” she said.