read more: Boston Herald Article

[password]Unfortunately for the voters, Monday night’s gubernatorial debate was a bit of a snoozer. With four candidates plus the moderator seated at the table, it was difficult for voters to focus in on the two legitimate candidates in the race, Gov. Deval Patrick and his Republican challenger Charlie Baker.

The presence of independent Tim Cahill and Green Party candidate Jill Stein were a continued distraction, one that likely sent many voters reaching for their clickers until “Rock Week” on “Dancing with the Stars” came on.

For those who did tune out, here are some highlights:

Both Patrick and Baker stumbled when asked to wax poetic about their vision for Massachusetts – Patrick droned on in stock phrases about education for all and accessible health care, and Baker stating flatly that he is inspired by a “commitment to the people who pay the bills.”

But when they turned to the issues of the economy and jobs, Baker’s willingness to speak frankly about the problems facing our state gave him the upper hand.

Patrick, on the other hand, smiled smugly when Baker expressed concern that Massachusetts lost more jobs per capita in the month of September than any other state in the country, eventually responding that he didn’t create the financial crisis and claiming that “we are making progress.”

Yet, I couldn’t help but see Patrick as an ostrich with his head in the sand when he refused to acknowledge the state’s $2 billion-plus structural deficit and continued to insist that we should look at the state budget in terms of people, not numbers.

Afterward, Patrick supporters seemed gleeful that moderator Charlie Gibson had relentlessly questioned Baker about a 1998 memo Baker wrote as secretary of Administration and Finance expressing concern that state spending was spiraling out of control. Patrick jumped on the issue, charging Baker with political duplicity for failing to make his private counsel public.

Monday night it became clear that, with the state unemployment rate at a 34-year high and spending out of control, Patrick is not willing to make difficult spending cuts, instead relying on increased taxes as a good way to “expand opportunity.”

He was vague about his plans for the future, choosing instead to discuss lofty ideals and tell us about people he has met on the campaign trail.

read more: Boston Herald Article

Baker, on the other hand, was heavy with specifics about how to get business moving in Massachusetts and restore our state’s economic health. Step one, said Baker, would be to impose a moratorium on new regulations until he can conduct a top to bottom review of all existing regulations. And he would immediately begin to implement his specific, and admittedly painful, cuts in government spending.

Not sexy stuff, it’s true. But Charlie Baker is, perhaps, the anti-Obama – someone who may not be the most polished candidate, but someone who will be excellent at governing. And governing is what Massachusetts needs right now.

Jennifer C. Braceras is a lawyer and political commentator.[/password]

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