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Jim Lyons ousted as MassGOP chairman, replaced by lobbyist Amy Carnevale

By Susannah Sudborough,


Carnevale won by 3 votes, signaling a new direction for the state Republican party.
The Massachusetts Republican Party met to elect a new chairman Tuesday night. Current chairman Jim Lyons (right) is pictured walking by as Amy Carnevale, (left) who won the position Tuesday, is interviewed before the meeting began. Jim Davis/The Boston Globe

Embattled MassGOP Chairman and outspoken Trump supporter Jim Lyons lost his position to State Committee member Amy Carnevale during the Republican State Committee’s election Tuesday night.

Lyons, who has held the chairmanship since 2019, lost by just three votes on the second round of voting, garnering 34 votes to Carnevale’s 37.

“The party tonight took a fresh start and a fresh approach to get back to a strategy of trying to win elections and trying to get Republicans elected to all kinds of offices,” Carnevale told Commonwealth Magazine Tuesday night.

“Clearly the vote was a signal that our party is going to take a different track moving ahead.”

During his tenure as chair, Lyons led the far right wing of the state party, often doing battle with popular moderate former Gov. Charlie Baker. Towards the end of his time as chairman, he incurred major failures, including the state party’s biggest losses in state elections since 2009, the MassGOP plunging into debt, and accusations that he broke state campaign finance law.

The Boston Globe described Carnevale, who lives in Marblehead, as “a seasoned lobbyist and Trump supporter who promised to steady the party and reverse its electoral decline.”

Having previously worked in the White House and on Capital Hill, the newspaper wrote, she now works as a lobbyist for K&L Gates. She has also been a delegate at the Republican National Convention three times, advised former President Donald Trump’s campaign in Massachusetts, and was appointed to Baker’s Commission on Intellectual Disability.

The Globe reported that Carnevale has promised to “professionalize” the Massachusetts Republican Party, which has suffered from lawsuits, controversies, and poor fundraising in recent years.

“By every metric, we are failing,” she said in a speech before the vote. “For the sake of the conservative policies we advocate, our remaining officeholders, members of our party, and future candidates, we need a fresh start.”

Though Carnevale was supported by the state party’s moderates, the Globe reported, she is not one herself. She’s historically espoused more conservative positions than Baker, such as being anti-abortion, anti-gay marriage, and supporting Trump early on during the 2016 primaries.

The Globe reported that Lyons delivered a short concession speech, promising to “never quit fighting for life, liberty, and freedom,” but would not answer a Globe reporter’s questions.

In recent days, the newspaper wrote, he’s blamed his waning support within the state party on Baker moderates, writing in a statement that he’s been the victim of “nefarious schemes hatched by the liberals.”

Lyons also blamed the Globe for declining support for the party, mentioning it nine times during a speech and citing “vicious attacks” against them by the paper. Commonwealth Magazine even wrote that “at times he sounded as if he was at war with The Boston Globe.”

The magazine also reported that Lyons contended Republicans in Massachusetts dislike that some party leaders have become more progressive. Instead, he said, the party can win them back by backing conservatives in municipal elections.

“I want to be part of a party that stands with Ronald Reagan conservatism, which stands with Donald Trump’s patriotism,” Lyons said before the vote.

Carnevale proposed some new strategies for the party on Tuesday, the Globe reported, such as taking advantage of mail-in voting — something Lyons has long rejected — and assertive monitoring of vote counting.

Commonwealth Magazine reported that Carnevale also said she would have a softer approach than Lyons when it comes to enforcing strict conservative values among candidates, and that she thinks the party needs to reach out to unenrolled voters.

“It is not enough just to be showing up with strong ideas,” she said during her pre-vote speech. “We have to win elections.”

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