All Five Gubernatorial Candidates Square Off
in Fiesty Debate

October 7, 2014 - (From left) Massachusetts gubernatorial candidates Charlie Baker, Martha Coakley, Evan Falchuk, Scott Lively, and Jeff McCormick pose for a photo before the gubernatorial debate at WBZ-TV in Boston . (©Jun Tsuboike/BU News Service)
(From left) Massachusetts gubernatorial candidates Charlie Baker, Martha Coakley, Evan Falchuk, Scott Lively, and Jeff McCormick pose for a photo before the gubernatorial debate at WBZ-TV in Boston . (©Jun Tsuboike/BU News Service)

By Taylor Walker
BU News Service

BOSTON- Standing just inches apart, the five candidates vying for Massachusetts’ gubernatorial seat sparred over the state’s child protective services, ballot issues, and health care Tuesday during their first televised debate in Boston.

Republican Charlie Baker described himself as a “weed whacker” would figure out what’s going on in state government and defended his management role at Harvard Pilgrim throughout the hour-long discussion.

The company’s former CEO faced heavy criticism regarding his tenure from challengers Attorney General Martha Coakley and independent candidates Evan Falchuk, Scott Lively, and Jeff McCormick. The debate, hosted by WBZ-TV, was moderated by political analyst Jon Keller.

Coakley defended her role with the Department of Children and Families (DCF) addressing a recent controversial Super Pac ad claim that she failed to protect children from abuse.

“I’m the only one on this stage who has worked with families and sat with kids at DCF,” Coakley said.  “Charlie has read the briefs, but I’ve sat with the families.”

Baker asserted his admiration of Coakley’s leadership and concern about the agency at large, but insisted that the agency needs fixing.

“The children served by DCF would have been better served if the agency was fixed,” Baker said.

Moments of agreement were not absent, especially regarding the candidates’ stance on tax increases.

Scott Lively declared that taxes will be reduced “substantially” if he were elected. Baker also stated that taxes would go down under his administration.

The candidates also traded sharp exchanges in the discussion about the state’s healthcare system. Coakley defended the Commonwealth’s waiver decisions whereas her opponents lashed the choice to stay connected to the federal system.

“I fear terribly losing control of this to some bureaucracy in Washington that’s never even been to Massachusetts,” said Baker.

Coakley firmly asserted her approval of the state’s healthcare system. “We’ve got the right plan here,” she said.

Among the ballot issues the state’s voters will decide in next month’s election is whether to repeal a casino law. Baker and Coakley both support a casino.

Gubernatorial elections will be held in 36 states this year. Follow the BU New Service’s live election coverage on November 4.

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