Debatable Results

The CBS4 debate is streaming online here. Extra points to the CBS4 web team for clear design, flawless functionality, and near-full-screen video. That’s not easy.

The most significant thing about this debate, I think, is that all three candidates were focused, informed, and personable, and treated each other with respect. Kerry Healey will have her work cut out for her. In fact, I think either Reilly or Patrick, and perhaps Gabrieli, can beat her. If I were the Massachusetts GOP, I would be on my hands and knees begging a candidate with a superior record of accomplishment to do to her as Romney did to Swift.

As to our team, I thought Reilly did the best, followed closely by Patrick. Gabrieli was third. The AG positioned himself as responsive — let’s listen to the voters on the tax rollback; mature — drivers licenses for illegal aliens poses security questions in the wake of 9/11; and forthright — he has released his tax returns.

Patrick did an excellent job introducing himself to the voters on a personal level. He is arguably the best on camera: smiling, smart, and sensible. He was not able to turn the discussion to his superior business experience, however, because he had to defend his decisions not to support a tax rollback, and to support drivers licenses for illegal immigrants. He also appeared very defensive about his refusal to release his tax returns — Reilly played the prosecutor role well here — and was forced to refer repeatedly to campaign finance disclosure documents he says he will file. He should file them now.

Gabrieli, brilliant, successful and sincere, did his part by raising the issues of housing costs and education, pounding away about jobs, and reminding the audience on several occasions that Republican management is the real problem. He provides an excellent additional voice in the race, but I suspect his defeat in 2002, his lack of previous experience in government, and the uncertain level of grass-roots support he commands, will hurt him in the state-wide vote. As if in reflection of this, much of the discussion on television was a back-and-forth between Reilly and Patrick.

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10 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. $quot;and treated each other with respect. $quot;

    Except, of course, for those fifteen or twenty minutes there when Tom Reilly was obsessed with Deval's tax returns and accused him of being in cahoots with predatory lenders.

    • predatory lenders and undecided Dems

      I don't know the answer to this question -- what was the timing of Deval's joining the board of AmeriQuest's parent company?  If he joined later to help them clean up, as he claimed in the debate, I think that makes it better, although given the purpose of these companies, to offer high-rate loans to people who are credit risks and often unable to pay them back and then forced into bankruptcy (which is a worse option than ever thanks to the recent legislation passed by Congress, see for more), I'm not sure that they can ever really "clean up their act." 

      These predatory lenders are pernicious and have a very harmful effect on poor neighborhoods.  We should outlaw them in Mass. and Deval being on this board would probably make him less likely to do the right thing in this instance and ban them.  I'm sure he's making 50-100k for being on it, and I agree that he should release his financial info.

      I'm sure he is wealthy.  I don't have a problem with that, but I do think he should release his financial info.

      • SFI

        And he will.  All candidates are required to file a Statement of Financial Interest with the State Ethics Commission.  Tom Reilly is just trying to score some cheap political points with the tax releases line.

        • Agreed.

          Reilly's harping over this so called "ethics" issue is an ugly little bit of political grandstanding-in what was otherwise an interesting and informative debate. I must disagree with Bob, though. Reilly came off rather badly, like a slick pol trying to find a comfortable centrist niche. I think he will be a weak contender if he scores at the primaries. Gabrieli did come off well, though. One wonders if this will raise his profile. And I do wish that Patrick could have brought his own resume to bear more, which would have settled the experience question. Overall though, he came off as the most earnest and people-centered of the three, as he often does. I just don't want the Democrats to shed blood amongst themselves before finally settling with the lowest common denominator. I think there is a risk that we could consign ourselves to four more years of this ridiculous Republican experiment.

    • Do you believe. . .

      that if you say something often enough, it makes it true?  Anyone who objectively watches the debate (which, frankly, neither you nor I did, since we clearly have chosen our respective candidates) will not determine that Tom Reilly was "obsessed" with Patrick's tax returns.  Reilly asked him a direct question.  Patrick responded and (taking the bait) extended discussion about financial disclosure by raising the income vs. source issue.  Reilly responded by saying it is about conflicts.  Patrick responded (swallowing the bait) by saying this is the first time that Reilly has released his returns.  (Which is true, since the tradition of voluntary releasing returns has been confined to the governor's race.)  Back-and-forth they went for about 3 minutes, all while being moderated by Jon Keller. It was hardly an "attack" and Reilly certainly was not "obsessed." 

      However, the Patrick camp surely has been on the attack for the last 48 hours and certainly appear obsessed with the early reports that Reilly had won a small victory in the debate. . .

      • Wait a minute

        A governor should release his tax returns, but the Attorney General shouldn't? Explain.

        • Easy - Traditions, Old and New

          The tradition of voluntarily releasing tax returns began in the 1990 race for Governor.  Since that time, every candidate for Governor has voluntarily shared this information as a public service. . .until Mitt and Healey. . .and now Patrick and Gabrieli. 

          I actually do think it would be grea if all statewide officeholders were to release their income tax statements, but that would be a new tradition. . .as opposed to the one referenced in this discussion.

  2. Great Analysis

    Bob, excellent work.  Thank you for focusing on the fact that all three candidates did well.  I agree with you final rankings too.  The link to the debate is great!

  3. Well spoken....and a tribute to the blog


  4. For what it's worth . . .

    In my humble opinion, I think that all three candidates did well.  Patrick and Gabrieli were nuanced and right about the issues, and Reilly was taking the right-wing, populist, Howie Carr approach.  While I liked Patrick and Gabrieli much better than Reilly (and I am a strong Patrick supporter), I think that Reilly may be better positioning himself for the September primary and November final election.  As much as I hate to admit it, most people want the income tax rolled back to 5% and they want so-called illegal immigrants locked up and sent back to their homelands.  I think Reilly's approach has popular appeal, and I don't think either Patrick or Gabrieli articulated a decent response.

    Here's where I think all the Dems should go, and I think Deval Patrick has started on the right path.  Why do we have two state agencies competing about bringing movie productions to Massachusetts?  How is this efficient government?  How was that guy in the Labor & Industries Department able to get paid when he hardly ever showed up for work?  Let's change the discussion about taxes to one about the waste and mismanagement of Republicans - as soon as a Dem Governor can clean up their waste, throw out all the Republican payroll patriots, and bring modern business management to the state government - and not just talk about but actually create new jobs - then we can talk about cutting the income tax to 4.9%!

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