The Boston Globe’s Noah Bierman thinks Republican Charlie Baker drew all the heat in yesterday’s inaugural debate. To make it a two-man race needed to win, Cahill clearly set his sights on Baker virtually forgetting the incumbent in the debate.
Governor Deval Patrick is battling a recession and a national backlash against incumbents, but it was his Republican rival, Charles D. Baker, who found himself on the defensive more often yesterday during the first major debate of the gubernatorial campaign.
The wide-open format in the initial face-off, and the presence of independent candidate Timothy P. Cahill, helped Patrick deflect criticism on issues where he is most politically vulnerable: taxes, health care costs, immigration, and state government spending.
Is the Globe hoping for a replay of 2006, where Deval gets off easy?
Baker clearly held his own in the debate and Deval Patrick appeared — as he did in the last campaign — as the “me-too” candidate on immigration and taxes. We learn from Patrick that “there will come a time, I believe, to roll those taxes back.”
The Globe chose to forget his campaign promise in 2006 to cut property taxes. The Globe didn’t forget Charlie’s role in the Big Dig however.
Baker defended himself against charges that he was responsible for the Big Dig’s dubious financing package and he did so forcefully. According to the Herald:
Patrick also targeted Baker on his involvement with the Big Dig, calling it “ironic” that Baker would lecture him on finances when he oversaw the Bay State’s over-budget boondoggle.
“I think the issue there is accuracy. It sounds like his involvement was central to the development of the project,” Patrick said.
Baker hung the project on Jim Aloisi – Patrick’s former transportation chief.
“I was two years out of college when the Big Dig was conceived of and developed and if it had an architect it would be Jim Aloisi,” Baker said.
Remember it was reformer Deval who hired James Aloisi knowing as he did that the Fred Salvucci-acolyte was the embodiment of the “Big Dig culture.”
Baker definitely needs to define himself more clearly, hang the cronyism of Beacon Hill and the Big Dig Culture around the Governor’s cabal yet offer a positive program that will ensure the state’s long term competitiveness. Cahill continues to deploy the rhetoric of a fiscal conservative and that’s a problem for Baker but not an insurmountable one.