Warren’s Likely GOP Challenger: A Pain to Diehl With

Unlike John McCain, here’s one fellow who will never be confused for a statesman:

[Massachusetts] State Representative Geoff Diehl, in an effort to ramp up immigration-focused attacks on US Senator Elizabeth Warren, [has] released a campaign video [asserting] that 20 people a day — or the equivalent of “over 7,000 people every year” — are killed by undocumented immigrants.

But there are no federal data to back up the assertion, and Diehl’s campaign, in arguing that it’s true, pointed to a jumble of information, including figures from unnamed sheriffs, a two-year-old Fox News article on driving deaths, and drug overdose death rates.

The claim is included in a roughly minute-long spot released by Diehl, one of three Republicans running in the Sept. 4 primary to face Warren in November…

Jessica Vaughan — the director of policy studies at the Center for Immigration Studies, which favors tighter immigration controls — said she hasn’t seen any methodology measuring how many fatal crashes involve unlicensed, undocumented drivers.

“I’m not aware of how he would make that assumption,” she said.

Walter Ewing, an editor and writer at the American Immigration Council, which advocates on behalf of immigrants, was more blunt.

“It sounds like they’re grasping at straws,” he said.

It takes a special kind of something to try to convince Massachusetts voters that Warren and the Democratic Party are for people being killed by undocumented immigrants. The party of Lincoln is now the party of linking—linking the Democratic Party to every evil in the modern world, that is.

Diehl must be considered the odds-on favorite to win the Massachusetts Republican Senate primary this Tuesday; the Bay State GOP is as wingnutty as any other state Republican Party, and Diehl—who was the co-chair of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign in Massachusetts—is arguably better at tapping into right-wing resentment, including the right-wing resentment of registered independents who are allowed to vote in the primary, than his two rivals for the nomination, longtime Mitt Romney pals John Kingston and Beth Lindstrom.

If—or rather when—Diehl wins the nomination, the Massachusetts television and radio airwaves will be saturated with anti-Warren scaremongering and smears by Diehl (to say nothing of the ads from right-wing super PACs). You will see Diehl all over Fox News and Fox Business, lambasting Warren’s alleged contempt for capitalism and vowing to faithfully support Trump’s agenda. Like Sarah Palin a decade ago, he will quickly become an icon of the far right—and like Palin, he will retain that icon status even if he’s defeated.

Diehl will stand to cash in if Warren runs for the presidency; he can promote himself in right-wing media circles as the man who tried to knock Warren off her progressive pedestal, who sought to stop her “socialism.” Were Warren to win the White House, Diehl would have a lengthier—and far more lucrative—media career, heckling Warren from the sidelines and convincing millions of gullible Americans that the former Harvard Law School professor is ruining their lives.

As for this campaign, it’s inevitable that Diehl will resort to attacking Warren’s heritage, as former Senator Scott Brown infamously did six years ago; anything that ramps up blind hatred towards Warren is a good thing in the right-wing world. The harsher the attacks, the better, in terms of his post-election career prospects.

The morning after the 2018 midterm elections, Bay Staters will mark the 40th anniversary of the re-election loss of the late Senator Edward Brooke, the first African-American sent to the Senate since Reconstruction. Like McCain, Brooke was a Republican scorned by conservatives for deviating from the party line; just two months before his loss, he barely survived a primary challenge from right-wing talk radio host Avi Nelson. It’s fair to say that if Brooke were alive today, and saw the likes of Diehl carrying the Republican banner, his sanity would barely survive.

D.R. Tucker

D. R. Tucker is a Massachusetts-based journalist who has served as the weekend contributor for the Washington Monthly since May 2014. He has also written for the Huffington Post, the Washington Spectator, the Metrowest Daily News, investigative journalist Brad Friedman's Brad Blog and environmental journalist Peter Sinclair's Climate Crocks.