Tuesday night’s debate featured little fresh substance from either state Representative Martin J. Walsh or Councilor John R. Connolly, both of whom offered familiar arguments. But the atmospherics of a tight contest and the vista — of the two standing feet apart, flinging accusations of campaign skullduggery — made clear the underlying tension.
The final debate featured the crispest exchanges yet, as Connolly escalated his efforts to tie Walsh to anti-Connolly mailings from labor unions, and Walsh tried to put Connolly in a box by asking whether the West Roxbury Democrat intended to air any negative ads.
“Marty and I both believe in unions. But there’s a difference here on priorities,” Connolly said, in a discussion of a Walsh proposal to restrict local governing bodies’ ability to approve or reject arbitration awards for municipal employees. Walsh, Connolly charged, championed legislation “on behalf of the unions which would hurt the city” and that $2 million had “come into his campaign” from organized labor.
“Here goes John again, exaggerating the facts. First of all, I am proud to have the support of working men and women,” the Dorchester Democrat responded, turning in his best answers of the campaign on the labor questions that have dogged him. Walsh dismissed Connolly’s $2 million figure as inaccurate — though he has benefited from roughly that amount in independent expenditures — and he argued that his Beacon Hill career has been marked by successfully brokering negotiations between policymakers and labor officials.
And he countered back at Connolly, a lawyer: “We don’t need another lawyer in City Hall right now.”
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