Baker, Gonzalez to square off in first gubernatorial debate

Republican Gov. Charlie Baker is set to square off against Democrat Jay Gonzalez in their very first debate.

Analysts say it’s likely Gonzalez will come out swinging to try to make headway against a popular incumbent with high approval ratings.

“There’s a chance that Gonzalez tries to press his buttons by bringing up scandals of the police force or potentially bringing up the scandal related to his own family,” said Eitan Hersh, a Tufts University political professor.

Gonzalez once worked as secretary of administration and finance under former Gov. Deval Patrick. He says he wants to invest in education and transportation.

Gonzalez has tried to tie Gov. Baker to the Trump administration, even though the governor has said he didn’t vote for the president. Analysts say this tactic is not working.

“The governor has done a very good job removing himself from Trump and his associates,” Hersh said. “That tact, which normally would work, you would think — in many states does work — does not seem to be working in this race.”

After winning the last election by just 40,000 votes, Baker isn’t taking anything for granted. He’s using his multi-million-dollar campaign war chest to blanket the airways and the web with ads touting his bipartisan approach.

“As everyone knows, Gov. Baker is the most popular governor in America,” Hersh said. “The thing I think he could do is to portray a calm and collected demeanor.”

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