Early in-person voting starts Saturday. You can find local hours and locations here. According to the secretary of state's office, 1.07 million voters, or 22.1 percent, have requested mail in ballots so far, and already 151,407 have been returned with votes cast.
For those who are still waiting to vote, Democrat Maura Healey and Republican Geoff Diehl squared off for the second and final debate of the gubernatorial campaign last night on WCVB Channel 5.
Two polls released this week showed Healey with imposing leads in the race, ahead by 23 points in one survey and 30 in the other. Diehl likely needed something major or something memorable last night to alter the dynamics of the race, and that arguably didn't happen.
That's not to say, however, the two candidates didn't have a lively back-and-forth over everything from energy costs and taxes to abortion rights and COVID-19 precautions.
ON ELECTION INTEGRITY: Healey wasted no time going after Diehl and his ties to former President Donald Trump. With the first question about whether the candidates would accept the results of the Nov. 8 election, both said, "Absolutely." But Healey accused Diehl of making the kinds of "dangerous" statements questioning the integrity of the 2020 election that led to the Jan. 6, 2021 riots at the Capitol.
"My opponent is an election denier. He supports election deniers out there," Healey said.
Diehl responded by saying that both he and his bank account are aware that President Joe Biden won the 2020 election, but said there's nothing wrong with questioning whether mail-in ballots in many states were handled properly.
ON COST OF LIVING/TAXES: Healey said her top focus as governor will be making Massachusetts more affordable, and that starts with "cutting taxes." Healey again said she looks forward to seeing $3 billion in rebate checks go back to taxpayers, and urged the Legislature to pass the tax reforms put forward by Gov. Charlie Baker. She also highlighted her plan to create a $600 per child tax credit for to help families with the cost of everything form groceries to daycare.
Diehl also said, "Of course, I'm going to cut taxes," though he was less specific on how. Instead, he questioned Healey's commitment by pointing to her support for Question 1, which would raise taxes on wealthy households by levying a 4 percent surtax on income over $1 million.
Later in the debate, Diehl said he doesn't "anticipate ever raising taxes" as governor, while Healey said she didn't want to "commit to particular pledges." The Democrat sounded a lot like Baker 2.0 who in his 2014 campaign would not sign a no-new-taxes pledge because he said it could handcuff him in the future should an opportunity for tax reform arise requiring some rates to be raised and others lowered.
ON ENERGY: No matter the question, Diehl returned again and again over the course of the one-hour debate to energy, and specifically Healey's effort to block the construction of two natural gas pipelines through Massachusetts. The Republican blamed Healey for what is projected to be a costly winter for homeowners, and said her support for a rapid transition away from fossil fuels would drive businesses and families out of the state.
Diehl said he supports renewables, but does not believe in setting an "arbitrary" deadline to make the full switch to clean energy sources.
Healey said her actions actually saved ratepayers money by preventing the oil companies from charging customers for the construction of the pipelines, and called on the Legislature to use some of the state's surplus to provide home heating relief to residents while she works with the Congressional delegation to secure federal aid.
"The idea that I created the high cost of energy, there's a war on in Russia and Ukraine. That's not Massachusetts's fault," Healey quipped.
ON ABORTION: While Diehl wanted voters to believe Healey, as attorney general, is responsible for the high cost of oil and gas this winter, he also contended that as governor he would have no power to influence access to abortion.
Diehl supported the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, but said as governor he would protect a woman's right to choose because the Legislature had spoken on the issue and with Democratic supermajorities on Beacon Hill the state laws on this matter are unlikely to change.
"There's no way I'm changing that law," Diehl said.
"I just don't believe that," Healey shot back, crediting Baker once again for acting quickly after the Dobbs decision to protect access in Massachusetts through executive order, and later by signing a new law.
Healey said the next governor will have a lot of influence in the abortion space with respect to things like MassHealth coverage and how state agencies support health care providers.
"It's just not the case that it doesn't matter who the governor is," Healey said.
READ MORE COVERAGE OF THE DEBATE:
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