Democratic gubernatorial candidates Bob Massie and Jay Gonzalez sought to set themselves apart Friday while continuing to criticize Governor Charlie Baker during a live debate a month before the Sept. 4 primary.
Massie accused his Democratic opponent of being too slow to address several issues including gender equity, climate change, and economic justice. Gonzalez responded by saying that he has been a supporter of the #MeToo movement and eliminating the sub-minimum wage for service industry workers.
“That’s not a fair characterization, Bob, to say I’ve just come to work on or care about these issues,” Gonzalez said in the debate, which was hosted by Herald Radio. “I’ve worked on or cared about them for much of my life.”
Massie also called on Gonzalez to address how large corporations play a role in the wage and wealth inequality in the state. Some large corporations, he said, “take advantage of their lobbying power to move the law in the direction that benefits them.”
“Jay, again, I just wish you would talk about this explicitly,” Massie said.
Gonzalez disagreed, pointing out that he and Massie both recently attended a rally protesting the lockout at National Grid.
“I have in fact been very critical of the utility industries in a number of instances with respect to the role they’ve played in deciding really important public policy on energy and addressing climate change in this state,” Gonzalez said.
The debate was moderated by Kevin Franck, a Democratic communications consultant.
The candidates attempted to differentiate themselves based on who had the most piercing criticism of the Republican governor. They argued that Baker hasn’t properly addressed climate change, the opioid crisis, affordable housing, public education, and transportation. They also criticized the Legislature’s recent failure to reach a deal on major legislation regarding the state’s school funding formula.
When Gonzalez said the commuter rail should be reabsorbed as a public entity, Massie said he first suggested that earlier this year. And when Massie said Baker isn’t planning for the future, Gonzalez responded, “It goes even deeper” than that.
The debate began with both candidates explaining how their different backgrounds would affect their approaches to governing.
Massie, who has never held elected office, said he is “not an establishment guy” and said he plans to surround himself with people familiar with government and those with outside perspectives. As a “bold visionary,” Massie said he would be able to use that mindset to build coalitions of experts.
“I think that I bring that movement,” Massie said. “Beacon Hill spends too much time talking to itself, not fully aware of what’s needed.”
Gonzalez, a budget chief under former governor Deval Patrick, said his experience in government would be a benefit.
“It’s not going to matter what we want to do and what our aspirations are if we don’t deliver on it,” he said.