Bastien Flanagan Debate in Leominster

by Datechguy | October 30th, 2014

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Bastien Flanagan Debate in Leominster

While the rest of the world was focused on game six of the world series, the national race for the sen­ate and the Char­lie Baker Martha Coak­ley debate two can­di­dates for State Sen­ate in Mass­a­chu­setts and their sup­port­ers con­verged on Leomin­ster city hall:

Both Sen­a­tor Jen Flana­gan & for­mer rep Rich Bastien’s peo­ple turned out in force for the pre-​debate stand­out while inside the final prepa­ra­tions were made.

While the debate was car­ried on Leomin­ster Pub­lic access cable it still drew a fair-​sized crowd.

Unlike the Wof­ford Tsongas debate applause was allowed after answers. That came in handy allowed me time to live tweet just about every ques­tion and response. Before I get to some of those tweets let me give you the post debate com­ments of both can­di­dates first Sen­a­tor Flanagan

Then for­mer rep Bastien

In the debate the can­di­dates agreed on more issues than you might expect. from the Kinder pipeline (both opposed although Flana­gan wants to work with fed­eral reps) the new bot­tle bill (both opposed Bastien call­ing it a tax on water Flana­gan say­ing it’s not nec­es­sary with the cur­rent recy­cling). Both sug­gested col­lege costs have to be con­trolled (Flana­gan talk­ing about con­trol­ling fees Bastien sug­gest­ing state money directed to well endowed col­leges be diverted toward state and com­mu­nity col­leges) and both against increas­ing taxes to pay for men­tal health pro­grams (Bastien not­ing his sign­ing of the no-​tax pledge Flana­gan say­ing new taxes won’t help argu­ing for reor­ga­ni­za­tion instead).

There were also pro­nounced dif­fer­ences on a new Fitch­burg Char­ter School (Bastien for Flana­gan against) On ques­tion 1 the auto­matic Gas tax, Bastien call­ing it duck­ing respon­si­bil­ity and not­ing the cost per mile of road in Mass. vs other states while Flana­gan not­ing she is con­stantly told by local cities & towns that more money is nec­es­sary for roads.

The elbows came out when Bastien hit Flana­gan on her record noth­ing she voted for the bud­get includ­ing the bot­tle bill and for Deval “Patrick­care” while com­ing out against the bal­lot ques­tion and the nurs­ing cuts but the most dra­matic exchange came after the oblig­a­tory mutual Uni­til bashing..

Bastien noted Flana­gan while hit­ting Uni­til took cam­paign dona­tions from them, Flana­gan was indigent

But Bastien coun­tered not­ing the firm that donated openly boasts on their site about influ­enc­ing leg­isla­tive and reg­u­la­tory processes. That drew an unfor­tu­nate answer from Flanagan

Tip O’Neill famously noted he didn’t look at dona­tions when he was vot­ing but while Flanagan’s defense drew strong applause from her sup­port­ers at the debate her answer in an age when national democ­rats are con­stantly talk­ing about the cor­rupt­ing influ­ence of money from cor­po­ra­tions might not play well beyond the base.

In fair­ness it’s really a catch 22 for a sit­ting com­mit­tee chair run­ning for re-​election. If your influ­ence as a finance sub com­mit­tee chair of a 30+ Bil­lion dol­lar bud­get is a sell­ing point for vot­ers of a dis­trict it’s cer­tainly going to be an even big­ger sell­ing point for firms look­ing to influ­ence how that money is spent when they decide who to give money to. It’s the clas­sic chicken & egg prob­lem and if this was a national race the video of that exchange would go viral poten­tially destroy­ing a candidate.

With a local race and an office holder who is fairly well-​known in the dis­trict with a rep­u­ta­tion as a car­ing advo­cate, par­tic­u­larly on men­tal health issues (where a lot of the debate oddly seemed to focus on) A quote like that might be twit­ter fod­der but it’s unlikely to pro­duce more than minor dam­age, even in a state as cyn­i­cal as Massachusetts.

My take? I’d give Bastien the debate on points but I don’t think Flana­gan cost her­self votes that she already had.

I think this race is going to come down on turnout if “Turn the ras­cals out” is the cry then in the year of a GOP wave Baker’s coat­tails will make the dif­fer­ence for Bastien, if how­ever the sen­ti­ment is more anti Coak­ley than anti incum­bent mood then she has a great chance of stay­ing where she is.

I’d watch this race, it might say a lot about where at least Cen­tral Mass­a­chu­setts is going.

While the rest of the world was focused on game six of the world series, the national race for the senate and the Charlie Baker Martha Coakley debate  two candidates for State Senate in Massachusetts and their supporters converged on Leominster city hall:

Both Senator Jen Flanagan & former rep  Rich Bastien’s people turned out in force for the pre-debate standout while inside the final preparations were made.

While the debate was carried on Leominster Public access cable it still drew a fair-sized crowd.

Unlike the Wofford Tsongas debate applause was allowed after answers.  That came in handy allowed me time to live tweet just about every question and response. Before I get to some of those tweets let me give you the post debate comments of both candidates first Senator Flanagan

Then former rep Bastien

In the debate the candidates agreed on more issues than you might expect.  from the Kinder pipeline (both opposed although Flanagan wants to work with federal reps)  the new  bottle bill (both opposed Bastien calling it a tax on water Flanagan saying it’s not necessary with the current recycling).  Both suggested college costs have to be controlled (Flanagan talking about controlling fees Bastien suggesting state money directed to well endowed colleges be diverted toward state and community colleges)  and both against increasing taxes to pay for mental health programs (Bastien noting his signing of the no-tax pledge Flanagan saying new taxes won’t help arguing for reorganization instead).

There were also pronounced differences on a new Fitchburg Charter School (Bastien for Flanagan against) On question 1 the automatic Gas tax, Bastien calling it ducking responsibility and noting the cost per mile of road in Mass. vs other states while Flanagan noting she is constantly told by local cities & towns that more money is necessary for roads.

The elbows came out when Bastien hit Flanagan on her record nothing she voted for the budget including the bottle bill and for Deval “Patrickcare” while coming out against the ballot question and the nursing cuts but the most dramatic exchange came after the obligatory mutual Unitil bashing..

Bastien noted Flanagan while hitting Unitil took campaign donations from them, Flanagan was indigent

But Bastien countered noting the firm that donated openly boasts on their site about influencing legislative and regulatory processes.   That drew an unfortunate answer from Flanagan

Tip O’Neill famously noted he didn’t look at donations when he was voting but while Flanagan’s defense drew strong applause from her supporters at the debate her answer in an age when national democrats are constantly talking about the corrupting influence of money from corporations might not play well beyond the base.

In fairness it’s really a catch 22 for a sitting committee chair running for re-election. If your influence as a finance sub committee chair of a 30+ Billion dollar budget is a selling point for voters of a district it’s certainly going to be an even bigger selling point for firms looking to influence how that money is spent when they decide who to give money to.  It’s the classic chicken & egg problem and if this was a national race the video of that exchange would go viral potentially destroying a candidate.

With a local race and an office holder who is fairly well-known in the district with a reputation as a caring advocate, particularly on mental health issues (where a lot of the debate oddly seemed to focus on) A quote like that might be twitter fodder but  it’s unlikely to produce more than minor damage,  even in a state as cynical as Massachusetts.

My take? I’d give Bastien the debate on points but I don’t think Flanagan cost herself votes that she already had.

I think this race is going to come down on turnout if “Turn the rascals out” is the cry then in the year of a GOP wave Baker’s coattails will make the difference for Bastien, if however the sentiment is more anti Coakley than anti incumbent mood then she has a great chance of staying where she is.

I’d watch this race, it might say a lot about where at least Central Massachusetts is going.

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