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.