Winners and losers of the GOP Convention

By Michael Gaffney


Here is my take on the 2018 Massachusetts GOP Convention. Remember a “win” or “loss” at the convention means nothing (unless you didn’t get on the ballot). It is merely a snapshot of a performance at the convention. With work, every candidate on the ballot can be a winner when it matters.

Governor: (both candidates are on the ballot)

Charlie Baker, Winner. His speech was a perfectly balanced convention speech that was designed for the general election, executed with poise and professionalism. Underlying his calm demeanor is a fighter that still has blood on his knuckles from battling his way to the top.

Scott Lively, Loser. He came out swinging claiming that Governor Baker had “stolen valor” from Donald Trump for claiming success in Massachusetts. Apparently, he forgot that Governor Baker’s term started two years prior to President Trump’s. The majority of his speech was only notable as a pointless and personal attack of his opponent.

Attorney General: (both candidates are on the ballot)

Jay McMahon, Winner. He had a wonderful introduction by Worcester’s own, Chris Pinto. He then went on to appropriately differentiate himself from his opponent (something Mr. Lively might want to learn from). He is a dynamic speaker and put on a wonderful convention speech that should not be repeated outside of the convention if he wants to win in the general election.

Dan Shores, Loser. There can only be one winner in a two person race. The immediate impression of Mr. Shores was that he is very poised, measured, and well spoken. However, his opponent had defined him as having little experience in the law, a fact that will be very troublesome for his campaign. Unfortunately, Mr. Shores had no answer. He should have spoken more about his business and educational background. The fact that he is a patent attorney means he has a degree in the sciences and indicates he is very intelligent.

Senate: (Mr. Kingston, Ms. Lindstrom, and Mr. Diehl are on the ballot)

Darius Mitchell, Winner. He electrified the crowd and reminded everyone why they are republicans. He didn’t come close to getting on the ballot, but he solidified his future, should he decide to make a splash going forward.

John Kingston, 1st Runner up. Having started his campaign just a short time ago, he did what he had to do to get on the ballot. He gave a balanced campaign speech that was perfectly timed. He’s a bit like Governor Baker on his first run, which means he needs to come across more relaxed and approachable in front of an audience. He showed class when he tried to release his delegates which would have given Geoff Diehl a first ballot win. If Mr. Kingston wins the primary, he is the candidate most likely to win the general election.

Beth Lindstrom, 2nd Runner up. Her husband gave a long introduction causing some in the crowd to yell out, “let’s hear from her”. Her speech lacked any substance, but she had poise and showed she hold the stage with anyone. Moving forward, she will need to define herself better and might want to reconsider her speechwriter. It is obvious that she has more talent and ability than was not shown by her performance.

Geoff Diehl, 3rd Runner up. He was supposed to roll out of the convention as the clear winner, yet it took a second ballot, after half the delegates left, for him to get the nod. It was a huge loss of momentum for his campaign. Thankfully, his speech and presentation were very well balanced and primed him for a run in the fall. He took the right tone and has settled himself in as the front runner. It remains to be seen if he can reorganize his campaign team and start running a winning campaign.

Heidi Wellman, Loser. Unfortunately, there has to be one and Ms. Wellman only pulled 6 delegates out of over 2,000. The number of delegates that did not cast a vote exceeded her total. She had the unfortunate situation of speaking after Mr. Mitchell. Her advertising choices apparently did not help her win over delegates. If she was aiming for name recognition, she would have been better served by using targeted ads on social media.

Overall, the convention team did a good job. Their only miss was they should have notified the delegates before the last vote that, in the event no candidate gets more than 50% of the votes, there would be a run-off of the candidates that made the ballot. It seems they expected Mr. Deihl would get the nod on the first run.

Kirsten Hughes, the Chair, did a great job managing the floor and was rather entertaining to watch as she seemed to genuinely enjoy her job.

The voting system and registration was a bit of a nightmare at first, but the bugs were worked out during the day and it really help to preserve the integrity of the ballot system.