A losing streak is no fun in any endeavor, but going five years without a single victory is almost unimaginable.
Unless you’re the Massachusetts Republican party.
But finally, on Tuesday, the local GOP posted a “W,” in a special state Senate election to fill a vacancy created by the resignation of a Democrat legislator.
The winner was state Rep. Peter Durant, R-Spencer. He got 11,985 votes to 9813 for the Democrat candidate, who is also an incumbent state rep. No recounts necessary. It was a clear victory, the first GOP takeaway of a Democrat seat since 2018, maybe longer.
The lesson is, even though Massachusetts won’t be a two-party state again any time soon, maybe the Republicans don’t have to lose every single election, forever.
Unless, of course, Jim “Jones” Lyons or one of his deranged followers returns from exile next year to reclaim control of the GOP state committee.
Lyons lost his House seat in 2018, so he decided to take over the state committee. As the old saying goes, the job needed the man, and the man needed the job.
Mostly, the latter.
Lyons drove the MA GOP the way Thelma and Louise drove their getaway car. Straight over the cliff.
Under Lyons’ lunatic leadership, the party lost 10 of its 38 seats in the 200-member legislature, including three of their six senators.
The GOP also lost two sheriffs and one district attorney. It was defeated in every single referendum question it got involved in, and often didn’t even collect enough signatures to make the ballot.
The Jim Jones Lyons faction became known as the Kool Aid Kult. They didn’t care about winning. They hired private detectives to tail other Republicans. They moved funds around to pay for lawsuits against GOP committee members. They didn’t have time or money enough to worry about winning elections.
One of the Kool Aid Kultists, incumbent Sen. Ryan Fattman, just had to pay $207,000 to settle campaign-finance violations involving his family and the state committee.
Another made man in Lyons’ Kool Aid Kult, former Sen. Dean Tran, was just indicted by a state grand jury on a second set of criminal charges. Various probes and lawsuits are ongoing.
This is the context of utter dysfunction in which Durant ran, and amazingly won. It was also a major victory for the new state party chairman, Amy Carnevale, who is trying to dig out from the rubble of destitution and scandal that the Kool Aid Kult left behind.
Carnevale defeated Lyons when he astonishingly sought reelection as party chairman despite his abysmal record. In his crackpot reelection campaign last winter, Lyons toured the state attacking not Democrats, not his fellow Republicans. It’s their m.o.
In January, at one of those Kult revival meetings, in Sturbridge, Durant confronted Lyons over his wacky charges. They almost came to blows.
But the bad blood between Durant and the Kool Aid Kult dates back even further, to the primary campaign for lieutenant governor last year. Durant’s wife, Kate Campanale, a former state rep, ran against the Kool Aid Kult’s chosen kamikaze.
The Kult spread the most scurrilous rumors about Campanale. She was, after all, a Republican. To repeat, the Kult doesn’t care about destroying Democrats, only Republicans.
“Just the things they said about my wife were absolutely horrible,” Durant said Wednesday night on my radio show. “No one should have to go through that kind of stuff. And to have your own party do that to you is deplorable, if I can use that word.”
Since their ouster, the Kool Aid Kult has been flailing, and not just because of all the fines, indictments, unemployment and multiple law-enforcement probes.
Jim Jones Lyons and his top deputy, a perennial loser named Geoff “DoorDash” Diehl, desperately wanted to get on the Trump campaign train.
Somehow they were passed over – maybe somebody sent Trump the story about how UPS is suing Lyons’ little flower stand for alleged non-payment of $70,000. Or perhaps someone reminded Trump of how Lyons tried to kneecap POTUS in 2016 by working for Ted Cruz. (Lyons lost, but then, he always loses.)
When Durant began running for the open Senate seat, the Kool Aid Kult recruited a candidate against him – too bad she wasn’t a registered Republican. So the Kult’s fallback candidate was the guy from Gardner who had just lost the state rep’s race against the Democrat who was running for the open Senate seat.
In other words, Lyons’ anointed Kultist would have had no shot of winning.
But the Kult doesn’t care about winning. The Kult is allergic to winning. They just wanted to beat the guy who’d offended them… by winning. So they called him a “RINO.”
Durant vanquished the Kult’s backup candidate in the GOP primary and then crushed the Democrat Tuesday. Guess who immediately began calling and texting Durant election night as the results rolled in.
That’s right, some of the leading lights of the Kool Aid Kult, including one guy who in 2016 was with John Kasich and is now carrying water for Ron DeSantis. And these pathetic losers wonder why Trump gave them the back of his hand.
“They did leave messages,” Durant said, “but unless the messages contained apologies for what they’d done, their congratulations were empty as far as I was concerned.”
In other words, when the Kool Aid Kult’s phones didn’t ring, they knew it was Durant.
That wasn’t the only beating the Kult absorbed Tuesday night. When Shaunna O’Connell was in the legislature, one of her closest allies was DoorDash Diehl.
Now she’s the mayor of Taunton, and Diehl does whatever the Kult orders him to do. Shaunna was running for reelection, and Diehl showed up for a rally for her opponent. He even posted a photo of himself with Shaunna’s opponent on his Facebook page.
Now Shaunna is reelected with 60 percent of the vote and Durant will be sworn in as a senator next week.
And now the Kool Aid Kult is trying to recruit more candidates… for the state committee. They want to lose even more elections.
Vince Lombardi once famously said, “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.”
Unless of course you’re Jim Jones Lyons and his Kool Aid Kult. For them, losing isn’t everything, it’s the only thing. And Sen.-elect Peter Durant (and Mayor O’Connell) just spoiled their party.