It's Baker Vs. Coakley For The Corner Office

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Republican Charlie Baker, left, and Democrat Martha Coakley (AP's Stephan Savoia, WBUR's Jesse Costa)
Republican Charlie Baker, left, and Democrat Martha Coakley (AP's Stephan Savoia, WBUR's Jesse Costa)

Democratic Attorney General Martha Coakley and Republican Charlie Baker will face off in November after winning the gubernatorial nominations of their respective parties.

While Coakley won the Democratic primary Tuesday by a smaller margin — 6 points — than expected, Baker trounced his opponent with more than 74 percent of the vote.

After defeating Steve Grossman and Don Berwick in the primary, Coakley wasted no time pouncing on her new opponent.

"So, Republican Charlie Baker has a very different vision for Massachusetts," she said in her victory speech. "Charlie Baker believes working families should be on their own when their children are sick or when adult parents need care."

In a swanky ballroom at the Fairmont Copley Plaza, she went on the attack, criticizing Baker for not endorsing earned sick time and universal pre-K education.

Baker, who celebrated his win at the more low-key Venezia Restaurant in Dorchester, said Democrats haven't proposed any new ideas.

"We have a detailed plan to create jobs from one end of the commonwealth to the other. They don't. We have a plan to restore fiscal discipline and keep taxes low, they don't," he said to a cheering crowd of supporters.

Most analysts say Baker is at a numerical disadvantage. He needs to court women and the unenrolled.

Baker greets supporters after delivering his primary election night rally speech. (Stephan Savoia/AP)
Baker greets supporters after delivering his primary victory speech. (Stephan Savoia/AP)

Ben Thompson, a 67-year-old from Dorchester, says Baker should also pay attention to minorities.

"In 2010, he conceded the black vote and the Latino vote to Deval Patrick, which made sense in a way," Thompson said. "He wasn't going to win that battle. This is a different election, a different candidate."

Thompson was celebrating Baker's win at the campaign party Tuesday night, but he admitted he did not vote for Baker in 2010.

"I was a Deval Patrick supporter four years ago," Thompson said. "It was a black thing. Now, it's not. Now, it's issue, not the party — that's why I like Charlie."

Thompson said he likes Baker's positions on welfare and prison reform, and thinks the Republican could peel away some minorities who usually vote Democrat.

A WBUR poll shows 56 percent of people across the board think Baker is a strong enough leader to be an effective governor. For Coakley, not as many people would say the same. And, in fact, 38 percent do not think she is strong enough leader to be an effective governor.

The poll also suggests far more people see Baker favorably than unfavorably. That's not the case for Coakley.

Martha Coakley greets supporters. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Martha Coakley greets supporters after her victory Tuesday night. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Steve Koczela, president of The MassINC Polling Group, which conducts surveys for WBUR, said Coakley's margin of victory is cause for concern.

"She started off halfway around the track in the Democratic primary. Very high support, very high name recognition, and still at the end of the day, Grossman almost caught her. So, she's, in a way, got to restart the engine and build some new momentum," he said.

Coakley has suffered from an image problem throughout this race. Fellow Democrats have questioned her viability to capture the corner office because of her loss to Scott Brown in the U.S. 2010 Senate election.

Baker also faces some long-term challenges having lost the same race to Gov. Deval Patrick four years ago. He still starts off behind Coakley in the polls and has to figure out a way to thread the needle with the women's vote.
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This segment aired on September 10, 2014.

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Asma Khalid Reporter
Asma Khalid formerly led WBUR's BostonomiX, a biz/tech team covering the innovation economy.



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