Campaign Updates

ICYMI: Karyn Polito Running out the Clock on Debates

BOSTON Sunday, October 12, 2014 With each passing day, it becomes clearer Charlie Baker’s radical Republican hand-picked running mate is hoping to dodge Steve Kerrigan’s call for six debates around the state.

Today, the Sentinel & Enterprise laid bare the Baker campaign’s clear strategy of keeping Polito under wraps so she doesn’t have to answer for her record of votes opposed to equality. The Sentinel piece noted the lengths they went to schedule a debate Tuesday and Polito’s obvious attempts to thwart it – while noting that Kerrigan readily accepted.

So far, Kerrigan and Polito have one debate planned – an hour before a gubernatorial debate certain to draw more media interest. Polito instead prefers unannounced campaign stops with friendly audiences and, often, no public notice or press schedule.

“Charlie Baker’s first major decision in this race was to pick a running mate who stands against equality, against workers, against families and against progress – he and Karyn Polito have a lot to answer to and this strategy shouldn’t stand,” said Kerrigan. “Two of the last three Republican governors have left their lieutenants in charge. Her views and record ought to be front-and-center in this race.”

The Sentinel piece is copied below:

WHEN THE phone doesn't ring, you know it's the Baker-Polito campaign.

At least that's how editors at the Sentinel & Enterprise felt as they tried, and ultimately failed, to co-sponsor a lieutenant governor's debate with Fitchburg State University. The proposal for an Oct. 14 debate to be moderated by FSU President Robert Antonucci was emailed Sept. 18 to all gubernatorial campaigns.

Democrat Steve Kerrigan's campaign answered the next day that it was set to go, as did Angus Jennings of the United Independent Party. Independent Jeff McCormick's running mate, Tracy Post, had a conflict, but the McCormick campaign indicated her schedule could be adjusted if we had to go with that date. On Sept. 22, Tim Buckley of the Baker-Polito campaign responded, saying the requests for debates had to go through campaign manager Jim Conroy. So the email was sent to Conroy, who replied that the campaign would be looking at all of the debate invitations Polito had received and would be back in touch "early next week."

"Early next week" came and went. An email to Conroy sent Monday of that week, Sept. 29, went unanswered, as did a follow-up email sent Thursday, Oct. 2. Finally, Conroy emailed us the following week, on Tuesday, Oct. 7, that he would get back to us by the end of the day. He finally did, but it was to schedule a call with us -- the next afternoon. When he called Wednesday, he had good news -- Karyn Polito would debate at Fitchburg State, but not on Oct. 14 because of a conflict. Emails went back and forth to try to arrive at a date, but none could be reached.

To be fair to Polito and Conroy, there weren't many free dates to offer. But at that point, the newspaper was working in a much tighter window before election day than when its proposal was first emailed weeks earlier. One of the backup dates -- Oct. 28 -- had to be slotted for the state Senate debate at Leominster City Hall.

While it's nice that Polito was willing to make Fitchburg State the venue for one of the three debates she agreed to be in, a quicker response from the campaign could have made it happen. A cynic might suggest the Polito campaign was running down the clock to make a half dozen face-offs impossible.

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Photo Credit: 2014 Martha Coakley