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Strong Challenge By State Representative Shawn Dooley Falls Short
All but two of the 80-member state Republican committee, gathered in a parking lot, drive-in movie style, in Littleton to re-elect Jim Lyons as chair of the Massachusetts Republican Party. Lyons faced a strong challenge from current Republican state Rep. Shawn Dooley, but was unable to edge Dooley by a 39 to 36 vote. One committee member cast a blank ballot.
In a bold decision, the party decided to go forward with its planned election for chair, at the height of the Covid 19 holiday spike. Meticulous adherence to public health rules and regulations were followed with regard to masks and social distancing. As members sat in their cars, they listened to the candidates speeches via FM radio and came up to caste their ballots in groups of five.
The race intensified over the past couple of months following a release of party financial records by Lyons to the United States Attorney in Boston, which revealed a long-standing pattern of improper payments, padded expense accounts and loose record keeping involving consultants associated with the previous leadership of the party. Lyons came under sharp criticism from some quarters of the party’s establishment for those disclosures, but he maintained that these were necessary to comply with his policy of full transparency with regard to party business. Dooley was viewed, by some, as the establishment candidate, whose mission was to punish Lyons for those disclosures.
Lyons’s victory was significant because it signaled the ascendency of new independent management for the party which appears dedicated to integrity, improved performance and inclusion. His victory is viewed as an affirmation of his policy of total transparency with regard to party affairs, and a new strategic orientation, that will emphasize expanding Republican presence in the legislature.
Dennis Galvin is a Westford resident and the state Committee Man for the First Middlesex District.