We’re minutes away from tonight’s debate. Chris Wallace is now introducing the format. He asks a question; 1 minute answer; each candidate then gets 30 seconds to rebut. Also, voters get to ask questions (not sure how that will work).
Holy sh*t. Fox just completely smeared Deval Patrick before they even started the debate by saying he’s “opposed to any new tax cuts.” Of course, Patrick supports cutting the property tax. Who wrote these intros, and did the candidates get to approve them?
Hmm. This is going too fast for me to live-blog. So far, Patrick is doing well, giving as good on property tax as he’s getting on income tax, and Mihos is generally hitting Healey harder than Patrick.
I’m going to drop in observations here and there rather than trying to live-blog the whole thing.
Oh, Mihos is going to town on Healey – pointing out that even Republicans vote to override the Romney vetoes.
Grace Ross is talking about how she will raise the money for her (expansive) social programs. And regardless of whether you agree with what she’s saying, she’s remarkably well spoken.
Voter question on MCAS. Patrick says he backs MCAS, but says it’s not enough just to say that more testing is going to fix the problems.
Ross says MCAS is the problem. Looking forward to hearing Mihos….
Yup, he’s still against it. Says local aid cuts have led to cutting necessary support for passing the test. “It was a tool, now it’s a weapon.” Good line!
Healey is glad to hear Patrick supports MCAS – was afraid the teacher’s unions were swaying him. Thanks Kerry! Standards are important.
Illegal immigration – in-state tuition. Wallace screws up by saying Romney vetoed it (in fact, it was never passed). Says we should use the money to lower tuition for citizens.
Patrick: we differ, but both sides have a point. We need to come down hard on employers.
Mihos: slamming Healey again – “your husband gets a federal position, and suddenly you’re with George Bush!” And again: “you’re a Republican, stand up for him!”
Now illegal aliens and drivers licenses. Patrick: yes, issue licenses because of security issues. Want to know names and addresses, deal with insurance. “But let’s be clear: people are not coming here to get drivers licenses, they’re coming to get jobs.” Have to crack down on employers hiring undocumented workers.
Mihos. “The Democrats want their votes, the Republicans want cheap labor.” Now to Healey – he says “everyone knows illegal immigrants are working here in the Commonwealth. How many corporations have you investigated and fined?”
Healey: says she’s been urging the AG to do it. Mihos: so zero. Healey: opposes issuing licenses. It’s your most basic form of ID – can go on an airplane. Dangerous to issue them.
Now to Mihos: would you give arrest power to state and local police? Mihos: first bill: change driving w/o license, reg., insurance into a felony. And ask Staties to enforce, be in touch with the INS.
Healey … sorry, not sure what she said.
Patrick: it’s a matter of priorities. There’s a whole lot else we should have State Police and other law enforcement engaged in, like gang violence. Backs McCain/Kennedy.
Ross: wants law enforcement to deal with drugs.
Now another voter question – from Curt Schilling’s wife, I think! Gosh, d’ya think she’s a Republican? Anyway, the question is about merit pay.
Healey’s for it. Incentives for good teachers to work in underperforming schools.
Mihos: against merit pay. For Prop 1 – let cities and towns at local level decide how to run their school committee. Don’t let Beacon Hill decide how to teach in the schools.
Ross: pretty much the same as Mihos.
Patrick: agree with Healey’s idea to get teachers to move to underperforming schools. Support merit pay, but the right way is to encourage collaboration by the whole school.
Another question from Wallace. “A first for Massachusetts.” Race is a divisive issue in MA. What has changed so that MA is ready to elect an African-American Gov?
Patrick: wouldn’t win on just being the first black Gov. But that’s not the case – successful businessman, led in gov’t, brought agencies together, worked in nonprofits, etc. Quick resume rundown. Also, run a grassroots campaign. That’s why we’ve come so far.
Ross: says Patrick has never held elective office. Says she’s spent more time with legislators than Patrick. “Of course, race is going to be a factor. Gender is also.”
Mihos: MA is a fair state – “they understand what’s going on here.” Says he represents 50% of registered voters. People are leaving the parties because there’s no difference between them.
Healey: “there is going to be history made in this race, and that’s a good thing.” But the reason people support me is they think I can make MA more affordable.
Next question: how closely do you want to be identified with Romney? What do you agree, disagree with him? Huge softball for Healey.
Healey: differ on choice. Agree on fiscal discipline. We had to make tough choices when we came into office, and we did.
Patrick: fiscal discipline is the responsibility of any Governor. It’s one thing to hear the words, another to hear that your administration proposed $985 million in new fees. Took the legislature to say no to $200 million of them.
Ross: too many people sitting in prison awaiting trial. Shelters instead of real housing also costs money. GOP has been wasting our money.
Mihos: echoes Patrick. Fees, taxes skyrocketing under this administration.
Question to Mihos: aren’t you just a spoiler?
Mihos: we’re the laughingstock of the nation because of the Big Dig. People are fed up with both parties – that’s why people are checking out. I speak truth to power.
Healey: important to have balance in politics. If Patrick wins, we’re back to Dukakis era when there’s only one party on Beacon Hill. GOP holds corner office so that there’s balance and democracy.
Patrick: balance people want is insider/outsider – with broad experience, who didn’t grow up on Beacon Hill. Big Dig a good example.
Ross: everyone else is rich. I’m not.
Wallace asks Ross why she’s in the race, since she can’t win.
Ross: we need to talk to real people about real issues. Not about tax breaks for the rich. Trying to rebuild democracy.
Patrick: if you think our campaign is just about millionaires, you’ve been missing something. Grew up on public assistance, and the whole campaign is about reaching out to everyone. Everybody has a stake.
Healey: balance is about to be lost on Beacon Hill. About to go back to closed-door decisionmaking on Beacon Hill. (What does this have to do with the question?)
Mihos: “I’m spending my children’s inheritance running for office right now.” He’s not taking $$ from lobbyists, state workers, state contractors. Staying away from corrosive effect of money.
Question from voters … important that government try to attract business to the state. What can you do?
Ross: most tax breaks go to big corporations. Need real universal health coverage – existing health care plan is not going to do it.
Healey: focuses on unemployment insurance. Roll back income tax to help small businesses, and work on permitting.
Mihos: “I’m a small business person.” He knows how hard it is to run a business. Gotta roll back the property tax – Prop 1 does it. Too expensive to live here, whether we’re businesspeople or not. Very divisive issues.
Patrick: have to speed up permitting and approval. Have to connect good ideas with capital – public/private investment partnerships. Have to reinvest in infrastructure – roads and bridges are essential to successful business.
Wallace now onto Big Dig. Asks Mihos what responsibility he has.
Mihos: “I got fired from that board.” Voted for independent oversight group, peer review.&n
bsp; Also, took Amorello and general counsel to court because they wouldn’t give him documents. Romney/Healey allowed Big Dig manager to sign off on behalf of Commonwealth so that the connector that failed would be open. Did everything I could, was vilified.
Healey: we’ve tried to merge Turnpike with MassHighway. Wanted control – had no idea about safety concerns. Went to legislature repeatedly. Took a tragedy to do it.
Patrick: That stem to stern review was promised and owed when you ran for Governor. The question always comes back to your not taking responsibility when it is your responsibility. My plan is to appoint an independent inspector general to give a professional analysis.
Vigorous cross-talk – Patrick calls it a “shocking shame” (or something like that) that it took a tragedy to get the independent investigation started.
Now Mihos is hammering her too.
Healey says “we didn’t have the power.”
Mihos still going after her. He’s really worked up. “Two people are dead today because you did nothing, you remained silent.” Wow.
Healey: the facts are wrong. People are very pleased that Romney is in charge today.
Wallace: Romney was very late to get into Big Dig.
Healey: “we have been working on this every single year.” “We got that power the afternoon after the tragedy, but not before.” On the right track now.
Patrick: I commend Gov, LG for taking control since June. What you are doing since the tragedy is hard to quarrel with. But leadership means you take responsibility from day 1, not explain it away. The job is to get the control you need.
Ross: it goes beyond this. Patrick and Healey took money from Big Dig contractors. (Patrick says it’s wrong – I’m not aware of any such contributions.) She wants to shut off permitting for any Big Dig contractor.
Mihos: this administration has had all reports, financial statements, etc. since July 2004. It is the state’s project. Everything has to be voted by their highway department, and paid with state funds. They could have done something in Jan 2003. Intentional indifference to blame everyone but themselves is what has caused this mess.
Wallace: heard for years about abuses at Turnpike, Massport re sick time, etc. As gov, what will you do to stop these abuses? [A softball for Patrick!]
Patrick: Just that: stop all these abuses. These benefits are out of place in a public setting. Another example of what could have and should have been done if people were paying attention.
Ross: we have moved away from collaborative leadership, have to learn how to work with local officials, legislature, workers.
Mihos: independent are poster child for everything that’s wrong with state gov’t. Back to Turnpike: this administration allowed Amorello go back for 2 weeks after he quit – gave all his patronage hacks free ride.
Healey: independent authorities are supposed to take politics out, but instead became patronage haven for legislature. [This, of course, is not really true. The judiciary is the patronage haven for the legislature. Massport and Turnpike are much more popular among the executive branch!]
Question from typical voter Jasper White: how to protect farming and fishing?
Mihos, Ross – sorry, I missed what they said.
Healey: I’ve worked hard for fishing industries, including fighting against new regulations that will ruin fishing industry. Also, don’t like Cape Wind – in the wrong place, will hurt fishermen.
Patrick: likes Jasper’s cooking. Commend LG for getting engaged in regulatory fights on fishing regulations. Also cites drug, alcohol problems among fishing industry – backs treatment on demand.
Wallace: final question? “Politics ain’t beanbag” – shouldn’t you be ready for attacks in a campaign?
Patrick: I was in DC when Congress changed to aggressive Republicans. But public is not served by hurling insults, trading soundbites. We should talk about differences in policy, and vision. But we should do it respectfully.
Ross: agree completely with Deval.
Mihos: [Wallace refers to "heads up asses" ad.] I want to give people a chance to listen to issues. Sick of Karl Rove Republican ads, refers to Swift Boaters.
Healey: the impact of 527s is bad. Asks Deval to disassociate himself from 527s. He does.
Now final statements. Ross first.
Ross objects to polling only “likely voters.” (Not sure I understand her point on that one.) Policies have to become about all the people. We have the money – we can do it.
Healey: we have heard two different visions of what MA should be like. I believe in higher standards, more charters, merit pay. Patrick opposes. We can and must lower taxes. Under Patrick, taxes would only ever go up. Believe in tougher criminal laws, Patrick is soft on crime. [This is a big mistake on her part to waste her closing on attacking Patrick.]
Mihos: I love this state. I just can’t take the way it’s being managed right now. Born in Brockton, went through public schools, built a business here. People are leaving the state in droves. Go to my website and look at Prop 1. Massachusetts is worth the fight.
Patrick: Every election is about choice. This time it’s about whether we stay on the path we’ve been on, or whether we make a change. Current path is fear, neglect. Every candidate has good ideas, but they’re going nowhere w/o leadership. I have experience as a prosecutor, led as corporate executive, nonprofits. No one else in this race has that range of experience.
And that’s it!