Candidates for governor in Massachusetts met last night to stake out their differences. Democrat Attorney General Martha Coakley and Republican rival Charlie Baker squared off with three additional candidates in their first post-primary debate in western Massachusetts.
“One of the things I said I want to do as governor is to sit down with the Mayors and ask them what we can do to improve their economies,” Baker said. “I’m going to commit personally to having that conversation.”
“I don’t have to spend my first year meeting with mayors of Massachusetts,” Coakley later responded. “I’ve been doing that during this campaign.”
Coakley and Baker drew contrasts in the areas of infrastructure spending and universal pre-kindergarten. Baker said Massachusetts should “continue to be a national leader” with respect to universal pre-k but has concerns about the program when it comes to students entering high school and higher education.
“The studies, despite what Charlie says, do show that it makes a difference,” Coakley said. “It shouldn’t depend on the zip code they grow up in.”
“We should be good partners for all of our communities and level the playing field,” Coakley added.
The two also differed on spending for state infrastructure projects. Baker said he would like to see more public and private sector partnerships.
“We need to be serious about reforming the way we do business,” Baker said. “We’ve got to figure out how to do this stuff better and faster, and in some cases cheaper.”
“Given what Charlie says tonight, I’m surprised he doesn’t support the gas tax because businesses, business leaders, and everybody in Massachusetts knows that we have neglected our roads in a tough time,” Coakley shot back. “We have roads and bridges that we haven’t been able to maintain.”
Coakley and Baker and locked in a tight race according to the most recent polling, which has them virtual tied according to Real Clear Politics.