Mass. Dem. Gov. Candidates Gonzalez, Massie Differ Little but Agree Baker ‘Has Failed’

There was very little daylight on issues between Democratic candidates for governor Jay Gonzalez and Bob Massie in their first debate. They both spent the hour-long forum aired on public radio bashing Gov. Baker—he isn’t a true leader, he’s failed on transportation, the opioid crisis and affordable housing. But the two only pointed out difference themselves at the prodding of a direct question. Both thought each was the best prepared to beat Baker.

Hear the entire debate here.

The best way to describe the two long-shots is that Massie seems better suited to leading a protest march than state government and Gonzalez seems grounded in the reality of what it takes to be governor. Massie is a thinker, an esoteric movement motivator. Gonzalez actually knows how things work—he’s grounded in reality.

Democratic gubernatorial candidates Jay Gonzalez (L) and Bob Massie.

“Look, Jay is a nice guy,” Massie told the Boston Globe after the debate. “He’s a guy who wants to continue in the Deval trend. Deval’s a good friend, and I admire what he did. But we don’t need to go 12 years backward.” Gonzalez was Deval Patrick’s budget director.

The event was held at UMass Boston and not unlike the institution, the organization and production of the event was a disaster. From the total lack of signage to direct people to ballroom where it was held, to the podiums that were nearly too tall for either candidate to see over, to the fact that the candidates couldn’t see the timer keeper because of the lights—the thing was a mess.

One particularly annoyance was that WBUR radio host Meghna Chakrabarti and Boston Globe local politics editor Shira Center insisted on addressing the two candidates “Bob” and “Jay.” (When did we start treating debates like a backyard barbeque?)

Both men were passionate, well-spoken and stuck to the rules. It’s still a heavy lift to beat the man they say is failing. the most popular governor in the country.