Mary Connaughton’s bad day

Wow.  HT to massmarrier for spotting this very revealing debate between Democrat Suzanne Bump and Republican Mary Connaughton, the major-party candidates for State Auditor.  This is an interesting race, and Sunday’s Globe poll suggests that it’s fairly close.

In this debate, though, Connaughton turns in a truly awful performance.  It starts out badly enough – she handles the first question poorly, whereas Bump handles it pretty well.  But it gets much worse: later, Connaughton gets asked several straight-answer, yes-or-no questions, and she repeatedly refuses to answer, instead regurgitating off-topic talking points.  And I do mean repeatedly – she gets asked each question directly about five times, and she just regurgitates.  It’s actually embarrassing, and it sure doesn’t make her look like the straight shooter she claims to be.  Bump, in contrast, did very well.  Watch the whole thing.  I don’t know if enough people watch NECN to make this a game-changer, but it should be.

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  1. It goes to show

    how difficult it is to run for statewide office when you've never held elected office before. Regardless of her other qualifications, Connaughton is pretty clearly an unpolished candidate, to say the least.

    That's part of the reason why I doubt she'll end up winning in November. It seems that for Republicans to win statewide office in the Commonwealth, they need to have a certain slickness about them -- Scott Brown, Mitt, etc. (whereas, no offense to my party, plenty of Democrats with the personality of a paper bag have been elected statewide).

    That's really the problem for the Republicans in the state this this year. They should have a great chance to pick up at least two statewide seats this year, but they have a couple candidates (Baker, Connaughton) who simply cannot present themselves effectively. It's the right year, but the wrong candidates.

  2. Discipline on message or obtuseness?

    Ms. Connaughton* knew here message. "I'm the only auditor. I'm non-partisan. I'll audit everything." She stuck with it even when it was irrelevant and sounded as if she were ducking questions. As someone who likes listening to conversations, this tic came across as obtuse and annoying. I wonder, though, whether it wasn't more effective. Ms. Bump's presentation, while smarter was also more diffuse and a bit harder to remember.

    • Note to Republicans: one can refer to the opposition with something other than the first name. Study the example above carefully and you can learn to do it too!
    • I don't know if she was ducking it...

      because it sounded to me like she just didn't have an answer. I suspect she regards union wages as "waste."

  3. Wow

    Ok, I get it that Mary Connaughton believes that the Auditor should be a CPA. I think Suzanne Bump demolished that argument when she said "there are 150 state auditors in government. We don't need to elect the 151st in order to get the job done." Ouch. Game over, better luck next time.

    I'm supposed to believe that a CPA running for this office hasn't made up their mind about slashing the sales tax to 3%? Come on.

    I found Suzanne Bump's focus on leadership and vision compelling, especially so since she also answered every question directly and without waffling. I thought she hit the question about her private industry experience out of the park.

    This was the first time I've heard the two candidates one-on-one, face to face.

    I'm voting for Suzanne Bump.

    • I'm voting for Suzanne Bump

      Me too.

      I found Suzanne Bump's focus on leadership and vision compelling, especially so since she also answered every question directly and without waffling. I thought she hit the question about her private industry experience out of the park.

      This was the first time I've heard the two candidates one-on-one, face to face.

      I'm voting for Suzanne Bump.

      Couldn't say it better so I didn't try. :)  

  4. David - do YOU regret supporting a vote?

    You and I both thought there should be a vote on gay marriage, as a matter of process.  The question asked five times was about the gay marriage petition - nothing to do with the duties of the office.  Mary refused to be drawn into the swamp of irrelevant social issues by Braude.

    • ??

      there were plenty of evasions before that.  Recheck the tape.  

    • PP, you apparently misremember my position.

      I strongly believed that the legislature should vote on the petition that was before it, as a matter of constitutional obligation.  And I strongly urged the legislature to vote "no" on the petition, in order to keep it off the ballot.  I don't regret any of that, not for a second.  I think I was right, and I'd take the same position again.  I sure as hell didn't sign the petition that Connaughton signed, and I sure as hell would not do so if someone started circulating a similar one.

      That clear enough for you?

    • $quot;irrelevant social issues$quot;

      Irrelevant to people who don't especially care about marriage equality, but to those of us who do it is very important. I would never vote for anyone for any office who signed a petition to ban gay marriage.

    • Irrelevant Social Issues?

      Now PP, those "social issues" won't seem so "irrelevant" when that top-down strategy of not discussing them comes back to bite the GOP in the ass (and the Dems who avoid this discussion as well)...

      And the topic of equality is relevant to voters in Massachusetts.  We need to know if Mary Connaughton will be trying to expense, on the taxpayer's dime, her dry cleaning bills for those "white hoods" she keeps in her closet.

    • You're ignoring most of the debate

      She repeatedly ignored question after question.  Maybe not every one of those questions was asked exactly five times, but most of them sure were asked more than twice.  She evaded them all, and acted as if he hadn't even asked them.  She's not a candidate, she's a talking point regurgitation robot.

      Reminds me of when Carla Howell ran for Governor in 2002.  She at least did acknowledge questions asked of her, and pretended to address them. However, her answer to each and every one of them was "eliminate the income tax".  Even when she was asked what we should do to protect wetlands.

  5. Reminds me of one of my favorite Run DMC songs:

    Mary, Mary, Why Ya Buggin'?

  6. 'This is a recording...'

    Ms. Connaughton's redundancy was indeed annoying.  The fine art of circumlocution takes time, I suppose.  Ms. Bump attempted no dodge-ball and was to the point.  While perhaps meaningless, Connaughton wore blue.  Not that she can't, but strategists are damned clever at the subliminal.

  7. Don't Buy That Mary Is An Innocent Waif

    A couple of points: Last week on NECN Mary said she opposed Question 3 (Polito, on at the same time, said she supported it)... Flip Flop is less than a week! Second, Mary ran for State Rep as a Mini-Mitt clone, and has done dozens and dozens of media appearences... Her strategy tonight was to be a 'one note' candidate, and she achieved her goal!! She just looked stupid doing it! Finally, if the media did it's homework they'd be checking to see if any other Republican had tried the tack of 'an auditor for auditor' against a Democrat... They had, TWICE, against the old State Auditor Ted Buchco... Both CPA's lost in landslides... Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it


    • Nicely said-$quot; Don't Buy That Mary Is An Innocent Waif$quot;

      Second, Mary ran for State Rep as a Mini-Mitt clone, and has done dozens and dozens of media appearences..

      Her strategy tonight was to be a 'one note' candidate, and she achieved her goal!!

      She just looked stupid doing it!

      Although I'm still giggling at the idea of "Mary the innocent waif"


  8. It was a particularly bad strategy with that interviewer

    I'm not a TV watcher, so I have no idea who that NECN guy was.  I didn't like his demeanor, tone, or pace, but it really made Mary Connaughton look terrible... he was like a yippy dog with a sore throat nipping at Connaughton's heels every time she got into her stock phrase instead of answering the question.

  9. The Globe...

    picked up on here back tracking too...

    But Connaughton sidestepped several questions, including on gay marriage and state pensions.

  10. Coming from someone who thought ....

    Connaughton was a decent candidate.  This is pretty disappointing, revealing to say the least.

  11. What a shocka

    Brookline Tom voting for the democrat? What a shocka!!!!  

  12. I will be voting for Mary Z... no surprise.

    But I think she was absolutely horrible during the debate. Beyond horrible.

    She wouldn't answer what appeared to be even the simplest questions. One debate does not turn my vote for her but if this kind of performance continues I may have to seriously reconsider.

    BTW... a week ago I was attacked here for my remarks about Mary Z keeping politicians honest about spending our money. People said I was ignorant about what the "Auditor does". Can someone please answer me as to why the Auditor gets asked about gay marriage during a debate? WTF does the Auditor have to do with gay marriage?

    • I think it's fair to say

      that the Auditor doesn't have much to do with gay marriage.  But the question is nonetheless important for (at least) two reasons.  First, I want the elected officials who claim to represent me to be on board at least with what I see as the most basic principles of how society ought to be organized, which includes non-discrimination.  If a spectacularly successful auditor with a long track record of exposing waste and fraud was nonetheless a flaming racist, I'd vote for the other candidate.  I don't want people like that in office.  (I'm not suggesting that's what Mary is - I don't think she is.  That's just by way of example to show that questions like the ones Braude asked are relevant.)

      Second, as I've said before, there's just no doubt that Auditor can be a springboard to other offices, either statewide or federal.  Lt. Gov. and Member of Congress both come quickly to mind.  So issues like gay marriage aren't precisely germane now, but they will be down the road.  I think it very unlikely that, if Connaughton wins, she won't be thinking seriously about a run for Congress in the relatively near term.

      • Claire McCaskill

        Don't forget that Claire McCaskill, before being elected a U.S. Senator from Missouri, was that state's auditor from 1999 to 2007.

      • David - do you also have to be pro-choice to be Auditor?

        • Interesting...

          Pro-choice is settled law, by and large.  Some hemming and hawing at the edges.

          Gay rights aren't.  Gay Massachusetts citizens can marry, but they don't get federal benefits, nor can they be 'out' and in the military.

    • Good for you!

      Being open to reconsidering that is.

      The Auditor can send in forensic CPA's and lawyers into any state funded program and look through their books -- and then write a report about what was found. The Auditor can't go to the Legislature :) because it is another branch of government. (Don't know about the courts, maybe somebody else does.)

      Now supposing some anti gay marriage folk suspect that 3 or 4 state agencies or state funded programs are using state funds to lobby the Legislature about pending legislation which does not directly relate to their program, an activity which in most cases a no-no.

      So the Auditor, an avowed anti gay marriage person, stops everything and sends in her crews to pour through the books and look for evidence that they spent state funds improperly.

      Talk about a chilling effect!      

      • Don't mean to imply support cover ups of improper behavior

        by state employee or contracted state workers in non profit provider agencies. As individuals it is perfectly ok for them to lobby like hell about things they care about. On their own time. I have spent many hundreds of hours teaching folks in non profits how to advocate properly. State employee get their lectures from somebody else.

        So the chilling effect is in large a force that makes folks careful.

        But a witch hunt by the Auditors office can always turn up something to embarrass advocates for a policy the Auditor is publicly against. At great expense, and the price includes not spending the Auditors limited resources on some more grievous offender.  

        • Judy - this is why the social issues questions were so inappropriate.

          An auditor shouldn't BE publicly on record regarding a social policy for exactly the reason you state, to avoid the perception of a witch hunt when doing her job.

          Above, I asked David if an auditor also ahs to be pro-choice.  With a publicly stated position on the issue in either direction, how can she audit government funding of Planned Parenthood effectively?

          Suzanne Bump was not asked about any of her stances on social issues.  Why is that - because it's assumed she has adopted the cookie-cutter progressive hive mind on all social issues, so we don't NEED to ask her?

          FULL DISCLOSURE - I have ZERO idea where Mary Z. stands on abortion, and I regard that as a good thing.  The money is what's important here.

          • Indeed

            If you want to run for auditor, don't sign petitions.  Once you do, you're on the public record, like it or not.

            • And how will THAT work in an era when oppo goes back 20-25 years thanks to the Internet?

              Don't be active in civic affairs, candidates - it could cost you votes decades in the future...

              • Them's the breaks

                You can't have it both ways.  Either you participate publicly and you're on record having done so, or you don't.  There's plenty of ways to be active in civic affairs without signing petitions which limit the rights of others.

              • Oh me oh my

                Let me see if I correctly understand your concern.

                For the the first time in human history, we have a technology that provides a genuine voice for individuals. It allows any person who cares about an issue to express that concern, in their own words, as loudly as they like. It enables every person who cares about the true history of any candidate an opportunity to learn the things that candidate has publicly written. It lets every voter discern, for themselves, the public posture of a candidate from that candidate's own words.

                It appears that, to you, the learning is "don't be active in civic affairs."

                Hmmm. That sounds to me as though you don't like your candidates any more than I do.

              • Just to pile on, PP,

                your comment is truly, truly absurd.  Of course candidates should be active in civic affairs - now more than ever.  They just shouldn't do things that they hope will never be found out.  All the internet does is make public information readily available to the public.  It's really not that complicated.

          • You still miss the point

            If one is for taking rights away from gay people, then it is pretty fair to assume they don't like them very much and may discriminate against them in the auditor's office.

            You know perfectly well that you would not be making this argument if there was any indication she did not believe in racial equality.

  13. Was Mary Z Really That Bad?...According to Red Mass Group, YES!!...

    Barbara Anderson, Queen Bee of the Right, says she stunk...

    Red Mass Group:: Rate Mary Connaughton's Performance

    Mary, you hafta answer the questions! (0.00 / 0) Since you ask: I watched the debate on NECN and was kinda horrified. What was Mary thinking? Yes, there are questions one doesn't want to answer, and candidates do want to stay focused on their talking points.  But you have to at least ACKNOWLEGE the question, then say I'd rather not get into that. You can't pretend you don't hear it. Especially when your opponent is sitting there to call attention to the problem. Not too late to learn, though, so constructive criticism may yet help her win.


    by: Barbara Anderson @ Wed Sep 29, 2010 at 08:30:30 AM CDT

    It gets worse!!

  14. On the flip side,

    I found Braude to be a great moderator for a debate. Tough, quick, to the point and actually hit up some interesting areas... all in a few minutes.  

  15. I got it!

    I was wondering all day what Mary's look reminded me of...Dark Helmet from Spaceballs.

  16. Well

    that was painful.  

  17. Now Mary Connaughton is Taking $$ From the Pro-Family Anti-Gays

    See Know Thy Neighbor with links in post to plea from Kris Mineau


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