Democratic gubernatorial candidate Martha Coakley knocked Republican candidate Charlie Baker Monday on the issue of raising the state minimum wage, saying he “would side with big corporations and leave working families to go it alone.”
In an e-mail to supporters, Coakley, the attorney general, drew a distinction between her view — she supports increasing the minimum wage — and that of Baker.
The comments mark the first time she has directly taken on the Republican since she launched her campaign.
On Friday, Baker reportedly declined to endorse a proposal that would raise the minimum wage from $8 to $11 an hour, though it was unclear what specific proposal he was referring to.
Late last year, the state Senate passed a bill that would incrementally increase the state hourly minimum wage from $8 to $11 by the middle of 2016 and connect future hikes to inflation.
Striking a note of economic populism on a key issue for progressive activists, Coakley wrote that since the recession, many “at the top” have come out OK while many working families have fallen further behind. She said that is why the minimum wage ought to be raised.
“Unfortunately, Charlie Baker doesn’t see it that way,” she wrote. “Just this past week, he spoke to a chamber of commerce and reiterated his opposition to raising the minimum wage. He not only said he doesn’t believe we should raise the minimum wage, but that he would actually slash the minimum for some workers.
“This is the difference between how Charlie and I would govern: I would stand up for working families and listen to them, he would side with big corporations and leave working families to go it alone.”
Baker spokesman Tim Buckley slammed the e-mail.
“The attorney general’s politically motivated attack is patently false and will do little to help Massachusetts wage earners,” he said in a statement. “Charlie’s position remains clear: He is open to an increase in the minimum wage, but thinks we may be able to do better for low-income workers by exploring increases in the earned income tax credit and enacting reforms that protect workers’ hours and create new jobs.”
Buckley said he did not have a recording or a transcript of Baker’s Friday remarks on the minimum wage.
In the Republican primary, Baker, the 2010 GOP gubernatorial nominee, will face Mark R. Fisher, a political novice from Shrewsbury who aligns himself with the Tea Party.
Coakley’s opponents for the Democratic nomination are: Treasurer Steven Grossman; former Obama administration health care official Donald M. Berwick; Juliette Kayyem, a former state and federal homeland security official; and Joseph C. Avellone, an executive at a biopharmaceutical research firm.
Two independent candidates have also launched bids for governor: Evan Falchuk, an attorney and former business executive; and evangelical Christian pastor Scott Lively.
Venture capital investor Jeffrey S. McCormick, an independent, is seriously considering a run. as well.