Barry Chin/Globe Staff
Two nights after their first one-on-one televised debate in the gubernatorial race, Republican Charlie Baker and Democrat Martha Coakley clashed again Thursday in Chicopee.
The pair squared off in the studios of WWLP-22News and began on a somber note, with each candidate sending their thoughts and prayers to the family of former Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino, who announced earlier in the day that he was suspending his book tour and cancer treatments.
But the gloves soon came off in the debate.
Coakley threw the opening jab by criticizing Baker’s running mate, former state representative Karyn Polito, whom she called a Tea Party favorite.
Baker defended Polito, describing her voting record in the Legislature as a “classic Massachusetts Republican voting record,” noting her support for abortion rights and stem cell research, among other initiatives.
Coakley then shifted to Baker’s tenure as the state’s health and human services chief in the 1990s, when he moved many mental health patients out of state institutions and into community settings.
“What do you say to 700 people who lost their jobs or the thousands of people forced to wait for critical mental health care?” she asked.
Baker said a bipartisan commission backed his efforts to transition patients out of troubled state institutions, and that thousands of jobs were created in community facilities as a result, though Coakley said those facilities were under-funded.
She also criticized Baker for the pay hike he received when he led the health insurer Harvard Pilgrim in the midst of layoffs at the company and rising premiums for customers, as well as his involvement in what she said was a “pay to play” scandal between a hedge fund he worked at and the New Jersey pension system.
Baker stayed on message, maintaining that he took over Harvard Pilgrim at a dire time in the company’s history and turned it around, in part by making tough choices. He said the former top lawyer at the Federal Election Commission advised him that he committed no wrongdoing in the New Jersey case, which involved a campaign contribution.
The Republican also went on the offensive, asking Coakley if she opposed past funding cuts by Governor Deval Patrick, a Democrat, to the state’s human services budget.
He cited a $40 million cut from the state Department of Children and Families that was made at about the same time that a lawsuit was filed against the agency by a child welfare group pushing for reforms.
Other lines of attack from Baker included his suggestion that Coakley was open to raising taxes, noting her support for continuing to tie the gas tax to the rate of inflation, which he said is an automatic annual hike that lawmakers do not have to vote on.
The debate in Chicopee was held on the same day that a Globe poll showed Baker had jumped out to a commanding lead in the race, by a margin of 45 percent to 36 percent. The poll had a margin of error of 4.4 percentage points.
The independent candidates are Evan Falchuk, Scott Lively, and Jeff McCormick. Voters go the polls on Nov. 4.
After conducting fresh DNA testing and analysis, Middlesex County prosecutors announced Tuesday they have at last identified Britton’s killer.Continue reading »
During a wrenching hearing, prosecutors asked a judge to send Bradford Casler to jail for five years after the 2016 crash, which killed two customers.Continue reading »
There is no better example of the current state of the quality of life in Southie today than the fact that tearing down a school to make way for a parking lot is considered something of a victory.Continue reading »
Here’s a look at which states have been affected — including Massachusetts — and how many people have fallen ill in each one.Continue reading »
A week after seven current and former students alleged that Dartmouth College failed to protect them from a culture of sexual harassment and assault, the case has sparked grass-roots activism.Continue reading »
Seven current and former students say former professors groped students in plain sight, hosted hot-tub parties with students, openly debated who had the “hottest lab,” and sexually assaulted grad students.Continue reading »
The Middlesex District Attorney’s office will announce a major development in the murder of Jane Sanders Britton, a Harvard graduate student bludgeoned to death in 1969.Continue reading »
The number of tax filings with an adjusted gross income of more than $1 million during the 2016 tax year grew by 165 compared with 2015. That’s income that exceeds $1 million, not assets.Continue reading »
The detective came under scrutiny after a separate investigation found packages filled with large amounts of cocaine had been delivered to a tenant living inside his home.Continue reading »