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Mass. Lt. Gov. Candidates Meet For First Debate

This article is more than 9 years old.

The four men who will also take up residence in the Corner Office if their running mate wins the Massachusetts gubernatorial election on Nov. 2 highlighted their own qualifications on Wednesday during the first debate among the candidates for lieutenant governor.

Asked what would allow him to be an effective governor if the incumbent, Deval Patrick, were unable to continue serving, Democratic Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray emphasized his background as Worcester mayor, as well as the state's No. 2 executive during the past four years. Murray said he has learned how to push through the bureaucracy.

Republican Richard Tisei highlighted his work as Senate minority leader, as well as a real estate broker, arguing it has given him insight into how both government and the private sector work.

Independent Paul Loscocco, an attorney and former four-term member of Legislature, said he knows how to work in a bipartisan basis. And Richard Purcell of the Green-Rainbow Party noted his 10 years of service in the Army. While lacking a college degree, he said he had the "life skills" no other candidate could match.

Suffolk University Law School's Rappaport Center hosted the hourlong session. It came just hours after Patrick, Republican Charles Baker, independent Timothy Cahill and Jill Stein of the Green-Rainbow Party engaged in a gubernatorial debate Tuesday evening.

Both sets of candidates will appear jointly on the general election ballot.

Unlike a series of recent gubernatorial debates, the session Wednesday lacked live television or radio coverage. For the most part, the lieutenant governor candidates echoed views and positions expressed by their running mates.

Murray, who often fills the role as Patrick's attack dog, complained about Baker's 10-year tenure as president of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care.

"Charlie Baker has raised health insurance premiums as the CEO if Harvard Pilgrim Health Care 150 percent. That is a job killer," the lieutenant governor said.

Tisei said he and Baker would push the state toward a 5 percent income tax rate, 5 percent sales tax and 5 percent corporate tax rate. He said that a series of tax increases under the Patrick administration stifled job creation in the state.

When he finished, Purcell scolded the two, saying their back-and-forth illustrated "bad boys telling on bad boys." He argued the two-party system was inadequate and the state needed to elect a governor who was focused solely on the public's needs.

Murray, Tisei and Loscocco all agreed they would yield to voters if they approved a ballot question proposing to cut the sales tax from 6.25 percent to 3 percent. It would cost the state an estimated $2.5 billion in revenue, on top of an estimated $2 billion deficit projected for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2011.

Nonetheless, Tisei said, "If the voters end up doing this ... we will adhere to the will of the voters."

Murray agreed, though he added: "If you cut that much, you're talking about a whole host of programs being completely cut out."

Loscocco said while he and Cahill would accept the will of the voters, he personally plans to vote against the cut.

"It's like jumping into the pool without knowing the water is there," said Loscocco.

Purcell said he opposed both the question and its implementation. He said it would hurt state services.

This program aired on September 22, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.

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