3 Democrats make the case for being Maura Healey’s No. 2
Few sparks in lieutenant governor debate
JIM BRAUDE BEGAN Tuesday evening’s GBH debate among the three Democrats running for lieutenant governor by asking a standard opening question to candidates: Why are you running for this office?
But in the case of the state’s lieutenant governor, what he really meant was, why in the world are you running for this office? It comes with no prescribed powers other than serving on and chairing the Governor’s Council and stepping into the governor’s role if the state’s top elected official leaves or is unable to serve.
A long-range hope to eventually run for governor themself may be hovering in the back of any LG candidate’s mind, but that’s not something any politic player would air. Instead, the three Democrats all made a case for what they could do as the right-hand deputy under Maura Healey, the presumptive Democratic nominee and strong favorite to capture the governor’s office.
Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll played up her 16 years leading a Gateway City and the role recent lieutenant governors have played as the administration’s key liaison to local government. State Sen. Eric Lesser of Longmeadow touted the geographic balance he brings as the only candidate from outside I-495 as well as his background in the Legislature and former stint in federal government in the Obama administration. State Rep. Tami Gouveia of Acton talked up her background as a social worker with a doctorate in public health in pointing to her interest in pushing an agenda for those on the margins. “As great as we are and as well-resourced as we are, we are still leaving too many people behind,” she said of the state.
Their shared position puts all three candidates in alignment with Healey, who shared a similar take yesterday on the Beacon Hill tax talk.
If there was anything close to a moment of tension in the very civil debate, it came when the candidates were asked what distinguishes them from their rivals.
Driscoll pointed to her years in an “executive role” as mayor. “You’ve got to solve problems for people every day when you’re mayor. It’s a little different than when you’re in the Legislature,” she said. “Believe me – no slight, important role, but very different when you have to do, not just talk about things.”
Her disavowal notwithstanding, the slight to the two lawmakers she’s competing with did not go unnoticed.
“I would challenge that premise,” said Lesser. “Because we‘ve done quite a lot that has had real impact on people’s lives on a daily basis at a massive scale, not isolated to one community or one place.”
When asked about the obscure Governor’s Council, which must ratify judicial nominations, only Driscoll claimed she could name all eight of its elected members. (Braude did not put her to the test.)Asked what former lieutenant governor was a model for how they would serve, Gouveia pointed to Evelyn Murphy, who served under Michael Dukakis, while Lesser cited Tim Murray, a former Worcester mayor who served under Deval Patrick. Driscoll piggybacked on the answers and name-checked both former LGs.
“Well, I wouldn’t go that route,” Gouveia said of the brazen power play. “As a social worker that’s not my style.”