Bay State Showdown: 2006

02 November 2006

Deval Patrick, Kerry Healey, Debate


Healey Finally Seen As Scoring Critical Home Run

Yes, it may very well be too late to make any difference in this race, but Kerry Healey seems to have finally gotten the upper hand against Deval Patrick in one of the debates. This is the first time that press coverage of her performance has been positive.

Yours truly remains one of the few people maintaining that Healey still has a chance at winning, even if it's a small one. But it does exist: Patrick peaked too early and much of the sentiment has really been about sticking it to Governor Romney rather than any real dislike of Healey, his Lt Governor.

As for Patrick himself, only a small percentage of voters actually seem enthusiastic about him. Far more Bay Staters are registered Unenrolled (independent) than as Democrats or Republicans and they hold the key to any late Healey comeback.

In addition, Patrick's campaign effort really did begin to assume it had won the race two or three weeks ago, which sent his effort into auto- pilot mode.

To have a shot at winning, however tiny at this point, Healey had to not only hit a home run, but convince the press of it as well. And at least from the standpoint of the Boston Herald, she's done it:

Red-hot Healey scores vs. Deval in debate...finally
By Kimberly Atkins and Dave Wedge
Thursday, November 2, 2006

Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey battled to pin down rival Deval Patrick on taxes, crime and immigration last night, demanding that he “tell the truth” as she saved her strongest debate performance for their final prime-time clash.

Throwing barbs and often ignoring the rigid rules limiting back-and-forth exchanges, Healey pointedly challenged Patrick’s criticism of her as a mere “criminologist” while touting his own prosecutorial experience.

“I’d like you to please name for us a case in which you were a criminal prosecutor in a court where you put away a criminal,” Healey demanded.

Patrick, who recently said he has never personally tried a criminal case in court, fired back: “Let me tell you what a prosecutor does.

“I’ve had to make judgments about whom to charge and with what,” Patrick, a former assistant attorney general in the Justice Department, said as Healey gave him a fixed stare from across the podium at New England Conservatory’s Jordan Hall. “Those hard cases, about what the evidence is and what is firm and fair. I had to make hard judgments about sentencing, including the death penalty, when I was with the Justice Department.”

“I will not have you trivialize the other part of the work that I have done, which is on occasion represent the unsavory defendant,” Patrick added.

But Healey - fighting against Patrick’s double-digit lead in the polls - shot back. “Deval, this isn’t about whether or not you were a prosecutor. It’s about telling the truth. That is something a governor must do.”

“A governor must be able to look the people of the commonwealth in the eye and tell the truth even when it isn’t convenient,” Healey added. “Like you were just asking me about the Big Dig. It wasn’t convenient, but I answered that question. And I will always tell the truth.”

Patrick, allowed by moderator and ABC News commentator Cokie Roberts to rebut, called Healey’s assail “extraordinary.”

“You spent all this time trying to distract us all from a record of failed leadership on the economy, on education and health care, and then you come here and talk to me and preach to me about telling the truth,” he said as Roberts cut him off.

Based on several polls that showed her up to 25 points behind Patrick, Healey was written off too early by the pundits. But with Healey finally showing the side that voters needed to see all along, she may have a shot at this yet.

With just days to go, what's critical for Healey will be the ability to pump up television ad spending to record levels.

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