Republicans have won the governor’s office in Massachusetts with moderate candidates who appeal to independent voters and some Democrats. The state party seems to be done with that.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Geoff Diehl faces reporters outside the Statehouse, in Boston, Monday, March 21, 2022. | Steven Senne/AP Photo

BOSTON — The battle for control of the Republican Party has reached deep-blue Massachusetts.

On one side of the GOP contest for governor is Donald Trump-endorsed Geoff Diehl, a conservative former state representative and failed U.S. Senate candidate who’s being advised by former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski. On the other is Chris Doughty, a more moderate wealthy businessman and political neophyte who’s poured more than $2 million of his own money into his first campaign.

It’s a low-stakes race where the winner of the Sept. 6 primary is likely to lose to presumptive Democratic nominee Maura Healey, the state’s attorney general, in November. Yet the GOP contest is attracting attention from a growing cast of Republican characters with potential presidential ambitions — and turning a local face-off into a proxy war between the Trump wing of the party and more moderate New England Republicans fighting to keep their way of politicking alive.

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