A Mass. Republican has left the GOP over Trump’s immigration policies

Matthew J. Lee/Globe Staff/File
Brian Herr (right) debated US Senator Edward J. Markey during the 2014 campaign for Senate.

Donald Trump’s immigration policies have pushed another once-loyal Massachusetts Republican out of the party.

Brian Herr, the Hopkinton selectman who agreed to step up to serve as the state GOP’s longshot candidate to unseat US Senator Edward J. Markey in 2014, took himself off the GOP rolls this week and reregistered as an independent.

Much in the mode of Charlie Baker, Herr is a fiscal conservative but with liberal social positions on issues like gay marriage and abortion rights. He agreed to join the GOP statewide ticket with Baker four years ago and lost by nearly 23 percentage points. Still, he stayed loyal to the party.


But that goodwill ran out this week with Trump’s harsh policies of separating immigrant families.

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“After months of pain, frustration and embarrassment I have decided to leave the @GOP/ @MASSGOP,’’ Herr posted on Twitter this week. “Headed over to Town Hall now to become an Independent. Using children to advance political agendas is immoral and sad beyond belief! Where have the positive leaders gone in the USA?”

Baker, who has kept his distance from Trump but not so much as to bolt the GOP, told reporters Thursday that he respected Herr’s decision but clearly indicated he planned to stay in the party and fight for the Republican wing that produced his mentors, former governor William F. Weld and Paul Cellucci.

“Brian’s a really good guy,’’ he told reporters. “You know, it’s a free country. People need to make whatever decisions they need to make.”

“I happen to believe that the brand that I represent is what I call the Bill Weld-Paul Cellucci brand, which is a collaborative approach to governing, a fiscal discipline approach to dealing with budget issues, and a recognition that at the end of the day we need to work collaboratively with folks at the local level and with people in the private sector who can make sure we can move this Commonwealth forward,” he said.

Joshua Miller of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Frank Phillips can be reached at