What I Saw At Last Night's Debate

BOSTON (WBZ-AM) -- Did you catch the WBZ gubernatorial debate last night, the first encounter between Republican Gov. Charlie Baker and his Democratic challenger Jay Gonzalez?

The good news for Gonzalez is that in his first statewide television appearance before an audience mostly unfamiliar with him, he presented himself well. 

He was articulate, thoughtful, and while on the offensive against what he claimed were the multiple inadequacies of the Baker administration, didn’t come across as offensive in any way. And Gonzalez staked out clear differences with Baker – on issues like racism in the criminal justice system and repeal of parental consent laws on abortions for minors – that may help him achieve a crucial political goal: energizing the core Democratic base.

The bad news for Gonzalez is that there was good news last night for Baker in his performance.

From his friendly banter with Gonzalez as the three of us waited for the broadcast to begin to his relentlessly calm performance throughout, Baker never seemed to break a sweat. He consistently dodged specific accusations by Gonzalez that the challenger often failed to follow up on. And he easily side-stepped a line of attack that Democrats have been pursuing for two years – the effort to tie Baker to a Trump administration that is widely detested in Massachusetts.

So, who won the debate? 

Gonzalez did nothing to hurt himself and probably solidified some of the support he needs to be competitive. 

But if he did anything to seriously undermine Baker’s extraordinary popularity and turbo-charge his own candidacy, I must have missed it.

Massachusetts is lucky. 

These are two good people, bright and sincere, thinking hard about how to improve our state. They staged a civil debate, and, most importantly, obeyed their moderator. 

And if you think that’s no big deal, you ought to get a load of some of the turkeys who are running in other states.

You can listen to Keller At Large on WBZ News Radio every weekday at 7:55 a.m. Listen to his previous podcasts on iHeartRadio. 

Listen to Jon's commentary:

 

(Photo: Getty Images)

Keller @ Large

Keller @ Large

Jon Keller is a WBZ TV & Radio political analyst. Read more

title

Content Goes Here