A much more composed and insightful Charlie Baker won the debate tonight between the four gubernatorial candidates but will it matter? The so-called "angry Charlie" didn't rear its head tonight, not even during a testy exchange with Tim Cahill over government employee pensions or when handling a question on the Big Dig from Deval Patrick. He won the debate even though at times he came across as extremely scripted, fake and lacking empathy. Yes, his wonkish side and ability to dissect state minutiae was very impressive but there was no knockout blow delivered to Cahill or Patrick. Far from it.
Cahill may have had his best debate yet as he showed real life and passion about SOMETHING for the first time this campaign. In previous debates he came across as scared and timid; this time he started slowly but finished very strong. His defense of government employee pensions probably resonated with people around the state, even those who don't work for government. Still, unionized workers won't be enough to lift Cahill over the top. He needs a major gaffe from Baker or Patrick.
It probably won't be Patrick who makes that major mistake though. Patrick was extremely cool and relaxed throughout the debate. There could have been all kinds of explosions going off around him and it probably wouldn't have bothered him. This is a very different Patrick from the one we first met four years ago. He handled every question with a smoothness and seemed genuine when he said "I see government as about helping people, not kicking them to the curb when times are tough."
Stein played a minor role in the debates as the "Beacon Hill Boys Club" received most of the attention from moderator John King. Despite her lackluster performance in this debate I think she should be included in all debates going forward. She made it on the ballot and that is no easy feat in this state.
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