And it's a wrap on the first gubernatorial debate!
First off, John Keller gets an A for moderating and keeping the contestants under a modicum of control.
The debate ranged from carefully planned and delivered sound bytes to a wideranging and spirited discussion. No major mistakes were evident and all four candidates were prepared.
Deval Patrick ended up with a B plus bordering on A minus. He is an experienced debater and for the most part was in command of the facts. He was able to avoid many (but not all) of Charlie's jabs. He clearly was talking up accomplishments (as he sees it) of his administration. He was under attack from the Left courtesy of Jill Stein and constantly attempted to remain the "reasonable" one in the room. Patrick is very skilled at this and acquited himself well. He may be losing some of the more left-wing Democrats to Stein, but most will come home by November.
Charlie Baker positioned himself as the only major candidate not currently on Beacon Hill. He took heat from all the others on his tenure at Harvard-Pilgrim and rising health insurance premium costs along with his ties to the Big Dig. However, he was able to parry those for the most part and tried to keep the debate framed as a race between him and Patrick whilst trying to either ignore Cahill or tie him to the power machine of Beacon Hill. He fired numerous jabs at Patrick and showed more spirit than I had anticipated. Solid B Plus.
Tim Cahill had me thinking that he was trying to channel Ronald Reagan on fiscal policy and certainly positioned himself as Mr. Conservative. How successful he was at this remains to be seen. He was not as aggressive as Baker or Patrick and directed more of his fire at Baker as they are going after the same type of voters. Overall he may have captured some of the more disillusioned voters, but I am not sure that he catapulted himself as a truly viable candidate. The Prof gives him a gentleman's B minus (almost a C plus, but I am in a good mood) for committing no major gaffes, but it also reflects a lack of aggressiveness and the jury remains out on whether or not he really wants the job.
Jill Stein gets a well deserved A minus, not due to any ideological lean (The Prof is oh so boringly non-partisan in this blog) but due to command of issues (Green Energy being overstated a bit after an hour) and the passion of a true believer. She likely earned some points among true liberals and she forced Patrick to cover his left flank.
I will be attending next week's debate as it is open to the public. 'Tis the season...