Scott Lively says he’s done with politics. And he has the chicken to prove it.
The far-right pastor who’s unsuccessfully challenged Governor Charlie Baker in both a primary and a courthouse — and has $30,000 in campaign debt to show for it — e-mailed supporters Wednesday to say he’s withdrawing from the Massachusetts political scene.
Lively, of course, had toyed with a congressional run in recent months, only to rule it out, before saying he could run for another office in 2022. (The antigay Republican got nearly 100,000 votes in last year’s GOP primary for governor.)
When reached by phone Wednesday, he initially asked if he could call the reporter back. A chicken had gotten loose, he said. When the phone rang a minute later, it was Lively — and squawking in the background.
“My son bought a fixer-upper farm here in Memphis,” said Lively, who’s now spending most days clearing a fence line, planting fruit trees, or seeing his grandchildren on the Tennessee property. “I’ve really enjoyed the lifestyle and the conservative culture of the South. I’m not sorry to be making the change. I wish I could do more to help Massachusetts stop sliding to the left.”
Lively, who first ran for governor in 2014 as an independent, proved a conservative thorn in Baker’s side in 2018 by forcing a primary with a surprising showing at the GOP convention.
He then sued the governor and the state Republican Party over claims it violated its neutrality rules when it ran signature petition drives for Baker. A judge ultimately dismissed the suit, after Baker spent nearly $190,000 in legal fees fighting it.
Lively now is asking donors to chip in to pay down his debt, which is mostly loans he made to his own campaign.
But he’s also eyeing new ventures. He said he could launch a radio program. He’s also interested in starting a Bible college in Tennessee.
”I’m looking for investors,” he said in his e-mail to supporters, “if you’re interested.”Matt Stout can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him onTwitter @mattpstout.