Baker, Gonzalez square off in first debate

BOSTON (WHDH) - Republican Gov. Charlie Baker and Democrat Jay Gonzalez squared off in their first debate Tuesday, tackling everything from gas explosions to the state’s transportation woes.

One of Gonzalez’s talking points was his plan to raise taxes on the wealthy to fund education and transportation.

“I’m surprised that commuters haven’t revolted to start a petition to Charlie Card to where’s Charlie Card,” Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez, the former budget chief under Gov. Deval Patrick, criticized Baker on the state of the T.

But Baker calmly pointed out he inherited the T’s problems, created a fiscal control board to fix them, and is investing in the system.

“Our plan is to spend $8 billion over the next five years on the MBTA, but we’re going to spend it on the stuff that will improve the service,” Baker said.

Gonzalez, who was down 44 points in a recent poll, also tried to tie Baker to President Trump. He criticized the governor over his endorsement of pro-Trump GOP Senate candidate Geoff Diehl.

“Gov. Baker says his loyalty is to the Republican ticket, even if it means sending someone to the Senate that would eliminate right to choose,” Gonzalez said. “I would never do that.”

But the governor pushed back on any comparisons and repeated his own bipartisan credentials.

“My views on Donald Trump are well-known. I’ve worked with others to fight back against the travel ban,” Baker said. “I’m running for governor, not Geoff Diehl.”

The governor criticized Gonzalez for cuts to education that were made while he was in office.

The two also went back and forth over climate change and the Merrimack Valley gas explosions and whether or not the state should have hired more inspectors.

“Government is there to protect us and the state agency is supposed to protect us,” Gonzalez said. “I would hire multiple times the inspectors.”

Baker responded, “DPU did 1,100 investigations. Do we need to do more on this? Yes.”

In the end, both say they believe they made their cases to voters.

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