By Mark Sullivan
Telegram & Gazette Staff

Posted at 9:36 AM
Updated at 9:36 AM

WORCESTER - State Rep. Geoff Diehl, R-Whitman, GOP candidate for U.S. Senate, traveled more than 2,000 miles to Texas to highlight his support for a Mexican border wall, but indicates he is in no hurry to see a similar security wall along the border with Canada 300 miles from Massachusetts.

“When I see that we have the issues that we have along the southern border, perhaps,” Mr. Diehl said on a visit to the Telegram & Gazette Monday.

“Right now, the evidence points toward the southern border,” he said. “It’s not just terrorism. We’re dealing with human-trafficking issues coming out of Mexico. We’re dealing with drugs being muled across the border ... With cartels controlling a lot of cities and towns (in Mexico), they’re forcing families by threat of violence to bring either drugs or transport people in vehicles.”

Mr. Diehl traveled to El Paso, Texas, on March 9 for a three-day visit “to see firsthand the border issues confronting our nation,” his campaign said.

He said: “We’ve been dealing with immigration issues here in the United States and Massachusetts for a while ... The cost to our state is $1.8 billion. How do we do a better job of making sure we secure the border? How do you talk about that unless you actually go there and take a look at what’s going on?”

Mr. Diehl said he took part in a cranberry harvest to prepare himself to vote on legislation affecting the cranberry industry in his district, and he learned about lobstering by setting out on a lobster boat. In that spirit, said the Republican candidate who has been urging an end to illegal immigration and sanctuary cities, he set out for the Mexican border, where he livecast from El Paso to WRKO talk radio in Massachusetts on Friday.

Lubec, Maine, on the New Brunswick border, is 380 miles from Worcester, while Pittsburg, New Hampshire, on the Quebec line, is 260 miles away. The U.S.-Canada border, at 5,500 miles, is significantly longer than the 1,900-mile U.S.-Mexico border.

At the end of Prohibition, in 1932, the majority of Border Patrol agents were stationed on the northern border with Canada, while only 10 percent of today’s agents guard the dividing line with Canada, according to Daniel Okrent, author of “Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition.” FBI reports from 2014 to 2016 showed more suspected terrorists tried to enter the country via the northern border with Canada than from the south, the Daily Beast reported.

Mr. Diehl demurred on a Canada wall. “Until we see ... happening on the northern border what’s happening on the southern border, I think it’s a wait-and-see,” he said.

He was asked how he would respond if it were suggested he was making a nativist appeal to anti-Mexican sentiment.

“There’s plenty of people who overstay their visas from multitudes of countries,” Mr. Diehl said. “It’s a matter of making sure our immigration law is enforced whether it’s at the airports or on our borders.”

That goes for the Irish in Boston, he said. “There are people from all sorts of countries that come here on visas and end up overstaying them,” he said. “We have to have a uniform policy regardless of country of origin.”

Mr. Diehl, who in 2014 led a successful ballot question campaign to repeal a hike in the gas tax, co-chaired the Donald Trump campaign in Massachusetts in 2016.

He was asked if it would be fair to describe him as the Trump candidate in the race.

“Well, I was the only Republican in the state who endorsed him,” he said. “I wanted to support the candidate who was going to deliver results. And so far, what I’ve seen from the president, with tax reform especially - which Elizabeth Warren voted against - is tremendous results for the people of Massachusetts.”

Mr. Diehl said: “This state will vote Republican, it will vote conservative when it comes to their financial best interest.”

While Mr. Trump’s poll numbers in Massachusetts are low, he said he detects significant support for the president in the red hinterlands of this notably blue state.

“Absolutely,” he said. “Massachusetts has its own rust belt once you get beyond the (Interstate) 95 beltway. The further out you go, past (Interstate) 495, the more you see people really looking for a solution to what they see is a lack of response by Washington, D.C.

“Obstructing and resisting down in Washington, D.C., might be great for (Sen. Warren), raising her profile and raising money for her campaign for the White House in 2020 - even though she says she’s not doing it - but it’s certainly not doing anything for the people around the state,” he said.

“She’s spent way more time in my opinion flying around the country and promoting two books while in office on our dime than actually focusing on the needs of Massachusetts.”

Mr. Diehl, 48, who has represented the 7th Plymouth District (Abington, East Bridgewater and Whitman) since 2010, is competing against former Mitt Romney appointee Beth Lindstrom of Groton and Winchester businessman John Kingston for the Republican Senate nomination.

This year’s state Republican convention is set for April 28 at the DCU Center in Worcester.

Should he win his party’s nomination, Mr. Diehl said, he will tout his record as a tax-cutter in a general campaign against the Democratic incumbent, Ms. Warren, a favorite of her party’s progressive wing.

“She seems to be working for one person, Elizabeth Warren, with her book-writing and fundraising,” Mr. Diehl said. “Clearly Massachusetts is just a springboard for her ... She may say she’s not running for president, but how many times have we heard that from many, many Massachusetts politicians?”

Mr. Diehl had raised just over $1 million and had nearly $215,000 in hand at the end of 2017, according to, while Ms. Warren had raised nearly $23.8 million and had more than $14 million on hand at year’s close.