BOSTON — On Tuesday night, the four candidates for governor debated in Boston. Education, immigration and taxes were some of the issues the candidates discussed.
Six weeks before the election, a new poll suggests most people in Massachusetts believe the state is headed in the wrong direction, but Gov. Deval Patrick still holds a narrow lead. Tuesday’s debate was an opportunity for Republican Charles Baker to change the dynamic of the race. But halfway through the debate, state Treasurer Timothy Cahill got in the way.
“Charlie, you’ve been running ads in the last couple of weeks in which you say the governor and I have been raising taxes, which you know is a lie. I’ve had nothing to do with a tax increase, never voted on a tax increase or signed a tax increase in the eight years I’ve been at the State House,” Cahill said.
Baker defended himself.
“When the governor was spending rainy day-fund money before it started to rain, you didn’t say anything about that,” Baker responded.
Actually, though, Cahill did speak out against Patrick’s use of the rainy day fund.
“You’re still lying, Charlie. You’re still lying about the record that I have as treasurer,” Cahill said.
For much of the debate, the two angry challengers argued while the governor looked composed and Green-Rainbow candidate Jill Stein looked on.
Baker came back at Cahill.
“How can you not talk about reforms like capping the amount of money that people can earn on their pension at $90,000, raising the retirement age from something like 55 to something more like 60, given that many people in the private sector will be working well into their 70s in many cases?” Baker said.
Cahill replied, “People in the public sector do pay for their own pensions, Charlie, and not all of us are going to retire as millionaires, as you will.”
This was the sixth debate so far in the race, but it was the most widely broadcast, on two radio and four television stations.
At times, Baker challenged the man he has to beat.
“There are 6,000 state employees who make more than $100,000 a year. The state’s approved more than $1 million in pay raises over that period of time. The people of Massachusetts have been hurting over the course of the past four years,” Baker said.
Baker asked the governor whether the state has made the same sacrifices its residents have made.
“I see government as about helping people, not kicking them to the curb when the times are tough, and I don’t see the budget as a math problem. I see the faces behind those line items, and I think that is a difference that I bring to this role than I believe you would,” Patrick said.
At that point, Baker bit his lip. Patrick looked like a governor still ahead in the race, poised and comfortable. Throughout the debate, he maintained command.