October 4, 2006

Governor's Debate No. 2

We watched the second governor's debate last night, and there was a lot less to make fun of.

Christy Mihos continued his attacks on Kerry Healy, but it was far less disruptive. For the most part, the candidates kept to their podiums and their time, though there was some hard work to be done keeping pretty much everybody within the time limits.

Healy came off much better in this debate than the last one. I have a feeling that she might well have swayed some lukewarm Republicans last night with her focus on the tax rollback even though Mihos stole some of her thunder by pointing out she's not the only candidate who supports this rollback. Healy framed the issue as one of arrogance on the part of the candidates -- arrogance that the voters voted to roll the tax back but the Democratic legislature hasn't allowed it.

I, of course, don't agree with the point. I think the reason you have representative government is so that they can make the hard decisions about funding, not put the tax rate in the hands of the people. It's fundamentally wrong-headed, and I agree with Deval Patrick's and Grace Ross' points about the burden shifting to property taxes and that it's hurting people.

That said, the point Healy makes might resonate with Republicans and other fiscally conservative citizens, so it's points to her on that. I would have been surprised if she hadn't staged some sort of recovery from the last debate; she couldn't have done worse. And clearly she found some points to hammer that she thinks will win her points. I think they may as well, but it depends on how far she can distance herself from the taste of Romney. And, frankly, even after having Jane Swift in office, I have to wonder if there isn't some sexism playing against her.

I heard a conservative voter say she'd recruit Romney to run again if she could. Excuse me? There's someone out there who wants another term of Where-In-The-World-Is-Governor-Romney in office? Recruiting Romney for another term in office is like picking a deadbeat dad to adopt someone else's child. People, he never really was about Massachusetts. Wake up and smell the Utah.

I don't think Deval Patrick helped himself too much last night, beyond looking gubernatorial, looking like he cares, and having good ideas. "Gee - that's all?" Yes, I know that's plenty, and the front runner doesn't have to help himself much. He just doesn't have to screw up. And even in the case where he didn't really answer the moderator's question in detail (the one about Springfield's financial situation) he looked at least halfway decent answering it, until Grace Ross gave a much more detailed answer. It was a successful debate for Patrick, if he was trying to continue to look and act like a governor. Confidence plays well with voters.

It seemed to me that Healy also got lucky with a question about fears that having a Democratic governor would eliminate some sort of check on the government. I think the question was a gimmie to her, but the other candidates did well to neutralize it. You have to other non-Democrats on stage, and Deval is convincing as a government outsider.

Boy these debates are fun!

I have to admit that Ross is far more informative than pretty much any of the other candidates on stage. She was relaxed and articulate. I think she contributes a lot to a discussion on the issues, and politically she makes it harder to cast Patrick as a far outside lefty. Mihos, in this slightly more controlled debate version, is still acting at a thorn in the Lt. Governor's side, calling her on this administration's failings in keeping businesses and jobs in the state.

Who won the debate? I could go the sappy route and say "the people of the Commonwealth won, because we got a better discussion of the issues from the candidates!" Healy did much better, but that's just by contrast from the last debate. Nobody took a header into a ditch this time. We saw a little heat from Patrick in his disapproval with Healy's promises as he highlighted that the current administration has had their crack at them. Healy closed by distancing herself subtly from Romney (to paraphrase: "none of us here have been governor before"). I think this debate may have helped Healy more than the others. Again, mostly by contrast with the last debate disaster. You might call her the winner. But there are multiple prizes to be awarded. Ross gets the "articulating her message" award. Patrick gets the "You can picture me as governor" award. Mihos gets the "Stirring it up" award. Healy gets the "A little desperation goes a long way" award.

On the issues, of course, I'm still with Deval Patrick. I think he's got a more reasoned plan for tax rollback, focusing on property taxes and getting aid out to the communities. The communities of the Commonwealth are hurting from the years of cuts they've suffered. That alone would be enough to get Patrick my vote.
Posted by James at October 4, 2006 9:20 AM
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Excellent analysis -- thanks! I'm for Patrick all the way too.

Posted by: Karen at October 4, 2006 11:30 AM

As a registered Republican I'm not likely to vote for Patrick but I'm not happy with Romney and not impressed by Healy. I'm also annoyed with her 'it should just be me and Patrick in the debates' stance. I have a right to hear the views of EVERYBODY who is going to be on the ballot.

I really want to read up more on each candidate but if voting today I'd give my vote to Mihos.

As for the tax rollback, I'm sick and tired of hearing my fellow Republicans rant over the will of the voters. I voted for that rollback when the state was in better shape, now I question if the small amount of money I would get back is worth the services I've lost.

Posted by: Lefty at October 9, 2006 11:57 AM

I don't agree with Mihos on a lot of things, but he's certainly got more life and sincerity in him than Romney.

Posted by: James at October 9, 2006 12:23 PM

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