Decision 2022

Diehl, Healey Sit Down for Interviews Ahead of Election for Governor

Democrat Maura Healey and Republican Geoff Diehl spoke with NBC10 Boston political reporter Alison King before Tuesday's gubernatorial election in Massachusetts

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In the waning days before Massachusetts' gubernatorial election, both candidates sat down for interviews with NBC10 Boston.

Attorney General Maura Healey, the Democratic nominee for Massachusetts' top executive office, spoke with political reporter Alison King at Brewer's Fork in Boston's Charlestown neighborhood; Republican Geoff Diehl, the former state representative running against Healey, spoke with King at his home in Whitman.

Get to Know Maura Healey

When Healey is not filing landmark lawsuits or on the basketball court, you might find her at Brewer's Fork, one of her favorite pubs.

She describes a fairly idyllic childhood, growing up in Hampton, New Hampshire, the oldest of five children, in a ramshackle farmhouse her parents bought at auction.

"Literally, there were floors that had holes in them," she said. "But it ended up being an incredible place to grow up."

Healey laughed when asked how she would have reacted if someone told her, as a 20-something, that she'd be running for governor one day. But she said she realized when she was young that she was a good athlete.

"From an early age, I loved sports," she said. "I was 2, 3 years old, and I loved to have a ball in my hand."

When she was 10, Healey's parents divorced. Her mother sold her wedding ring to build a half court.

Basketball was Healey her favorite — she was a standout on the team at Winnacunnet High School, and good enough to play at Division 1 Harvard.

"I remember walking into the field house, because I needed a work study job," Healey said. "My job was basically to wash the laundry of the athletes and fold the towels and hang them back up in the lockers."

Healey says she loved the campus environment.

"It was the first time that I was surrounded with incredible diversity of experience, of parts of the country, of walks of life," she said. "It was really eye-opening."

She was a star point guard at Harvard, but without a WNBA back then, she moved to Europe to play professional basketball in Austria.

"There were a lot of people who looked at me funny and said, 'What are you doing? That's just a waste of time. You should get on with graduate school or get a real job,'" she recalled. "And it was one of the best decisions I ever made."

It was about this time that Healey started thinking more about her sexuality.

"I think I realized that I was gay after college," she said. "Maybe it was the opportunity to go abroad and take a little bit of space … That's when I came out to my family."

The attorney general reflected on coming out before marriage equality.

"There was a lot of discrimination against gay people in this country, and so it was a different time — I'm lucky I had support around me," she said.

Healey admits going public wasn't easy.

"I felt nervous about how people were going to react, how people would treat me at work or in the workplace," she said.

Did she ever think she might follow in the footsteps of her mother — having five kids and living in a farm house?

"I absolutely thought that I might have kids," she said. "I had expected that I probably would have kids. I had expected to be married — I hadn't thought about to a man or woman — but, you know, life unfolds as it did."

Healey worked for a U.S. district judge, then at a large private law firm — all of which prepared her for what she considers one of her proudest achievements as attorney general — being lead counsel in Massachusetts' challenge of the Defense of Marriage Act.

"One of the most meaningful cases of my lifetime was the DOMA case," she said. "It was a case that people said couldn't be won … But we knew it was the right case, and the right action to take."

Healey says it was also the right thing to take on Purdue Pharma after countless lives were lost to the opioid epidemic. The case resulted in an unprecedented public disclosure and $4.3 billion from the Sackler family.

"It was about telling the story about how the greed of those companies and the Sackler family members ruined lives," she recalled.

If she wins, the 51-year-old will make history as the state's first female governor and the country's first openly lesbian governor.

"I'm excited about an opportunity to break a barrier and to make sure that you're not just the first — more importantly, that you're not the last," Healey said.

Watch the complete interview with Healey below:

Days before the gubernatorial election against Republican Geoff Diehl, Democrat Maura Healey sat down for a one-on-one interview with Alison King.

Get to Know Geoff Diehl

Diehl has happy memories of his upper bringing.

"I was born in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. My mom and dad, they divorced when I was 7," he said. "But we had a nice childhood."

But there were challenges, too.

"My mom was married three different times, my dad's been married three times," Diehl said. "I did move around a lot."

We sat down with Republican Geoff Diehl just days before the former Massachusetts state representative's gubernatorial election against Democratic Attorney General Maura Healey.

When he was 12, Diehl's mother, a flight attendant, went on to have three more children.

"It caused me to, I think, almost be like a second father, cause my stepfather was out a lot with work, and so I helped kind of raise those kids," he recalled.

There was a move to Winnetka, Illinois, where Diehl went to high school for two years. He moved back to Pennsylvania to live with his father, then back to Illinois, where he finished high school.

Boy Scouts provided some stability — Diehl earned the highest honor of Eagle Scout.

"Anybody who is involved in scouting, whether it's Boy or a Girl Scout, you learn life skills. You learn self reliance," he said.

Diehl went onto Lehigh University, then headed from small-town Pennsylvania to the Big Apple.

"After college, I went with a bunch of friends from college into New York, did the usual, crammed into a small one-bedroom," Diehl recalled. "We all had our different jobs. I worked as an assistant media buyer for TV and radio."

Diehl describes a fun experience living in New York, flying around the world for free on his mother's airline pass.

"I'd fly to Paris, or England, like, whatever," he said. "And my mom didn't even ask where I was going, we didn't have cellphones at the time, right? She was just like, 'Have a good time!'"

When his roommate offered to set him up on a blind date with a graduate student at New York University, Diehl agreed to go.

"I had a suit on, but I brought a change of clothes, you know, jeans and kind of more informal stuff, so she could pick," he laughed. "I don't know what I was doing, but I ended up going to knock on the door, and I'm told, you know 'Kathy Jo is going to be your date, and her roommate is Mary Lou.' And I'm thinking in my head, 'This sounds like two southern girls. This is interesting.' Kathy Jo turns out to be from Whitman, Massachusetts, and Mary Lou is Maria Lordes Gonzalez, you know Filipino, and so is it was funny."

A year later, Diehl and Kathy Jo were married. Her career as a dancer brought them out to Los Angeles for a few years, then back to New York City, where Diehl got a job in corporate video production with several clients in the World Trade Center.

"About a year in, 9/11 happened, and most of my clients went away. So we had just bought a house in Connecticut, we had a daughter," he said. "All of the sudden, my work just evaporated because of 9/11."

The Diehls packed up and moved in with Kathi Jo's parents in Massachusetts. Diehl had success working in sales for a New Bedford-based sign company.

"The last project I was able to do was the Citco sign over Fenway," he said. "We changed all the neon tubing on that to LED."

Years later, while volunteering on the Whitman Finance Committee, there were some grumblings about the lack of progress being made by the local state representative.

"I said, 'Well, is anybody going to run against him?' And nobody would. So I said, 'Well, I'll do it, right? I'll run for state representative," Diehl recalled. "So I literally bought two books on how to run for office."

Democratic Attorney General Maura Healey and Republican Geoff Diehl, a former state representative, debated their qualifications to be Massachusetts' next governor Wednesday.

It was around this time that Diehl, then a Democrat, decided to become a Republican.

"In 2008," he said, "I really didn't like the whole idea of redistribution of wealth like Obama was talking about."

Diehl went on to become a four-term state representative. In 2015, he ran unsuccessfully run for the Massachusetts Senate.

"Just because I think it's important to have that counterpoint, that viewpoint, for voters to have that choice," he said. "I ran for it knowing full well it was an unlikely win."

Diehl applied the same philosophy in 2018, when he ran against U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

"I think my messaging could have been better overall," Diehl said. "I was able to debate Elizabeth Warren three times, which I thought was important."

After losing to Warren, Diehl took a step back, even taking a job as an Uber driver for a while.

"It was just a neat way to get a pulse of what's going on in Massachusetts," Diehl said.

He had no intention of running again, but the pandemic convinced him to jump into the governor's race.

"We feel that this might be just that unique year where we can succeed," he said. "It'll be tough, because we've got a lot of challenges, but if I do it right, I'm really excited about the potential for the future of our state."

Watch the complete interview with Diehl below:

In the days preceding Massachusetts' gubernatorial election, Republican Geoff Diehl sat down for a one-on-one interview with Alison King at his Whitman home.
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