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Massachusetts voters will soon elect new governor, while current Gov. Charlie Baker focuses on work

A sign directs people to the polls.
Tony Webster
creative commons// flickr.com/photos/diversey
A sign directs people to the polls.

In a couple of days Massachusetts will have a new governor, but outgoing Gov. Charlie Baker has no interest in talking about his legacy just yet.

A long campaign season is just about to conclude. The polls show Democrat Maura Healey with a very comfortable lead over Republican Geoff Diehl. Reporter Matt Murphy of the State House News Service says there is always a chance for surprises Tuesday night when the votes are tallied, and there is a potential for some Republican down ballot upsets.

Matt Murphy, State House News Service: One thing I think candidates like Maura Healey are always concerned about is that when you've run for this long as the prohibitive favorite, polls have been showing you up by not just double digits, but 20 plus points over your challengers, there's the risk there that voters could become complacent thinking that this is in the bag, that this is not much of a contest. And then turnout really matters. If Democrats decide to stay home, if unenrolled voters show up and start to vote for Geoff Diehl, the Republican ticket, this could get closer than some of the polls have suggested, but it would take a major swing, I think, to alter what we've seen in this race, especially in the statewide campaigns.

Now, further down the ballot, there's certainly potential there. I mean, there are some close legislative seats in the Metro West area. I think you're looking at a contest between incumbent Sen. Becca Rausch, a Democrat, against Rep. Sean Dooley. That could be very close, one where a Republican has traditionally had success, a district that has been represented by Republicans. And Dooley could certainly score an upset there. And there are examples of this, I think, around the state in some of the legislative contests and potentially in some of the District Attorney and Sheriff's races.

Carrie Healy, NEPM: During an interview last week, Republican Gov. Charlie Baker dodged spelling out what he believes his biggest health care accomplishment has been while he's been in office. Why wouldn't the governor, who worked in the health insurance industry, who led the state during a pandemic, deflect that question in that way?

Yeah, it does seem like a sort of lay up for him. I mean, there are things that he can point to for sure, but this is sort of in keeping with the governor's mantra since he announced that he would not be seeking a third term. And he's wanted to be that guy who has put his head down, is going to, I think in his words, "run through the tape." He wants to keep working.

Now, with the economic development bill and the closeout budget for the state on his desk, that is one of the last major pieces of legislation that I think we're going to see him have his fingerprints on. There could be a few more things in the closing days of the legislative session, in informal sessions that crop up, but his time is running out. There are probably more things he wants to do, and he wants to keep focusing on the work for as long as he can. And there's certainly time, I think, come December, as we get closer to the holidays, you'll start to see him and the administration start to reflect a bit more on what the past eight years have brought in — what he has accomplished.

That nearly $4 billion economic development bill was passed by state lawmakers last week.  A couple of things that are not in that; the previously planned $500 million, one-time tax rebate to help people with inflation. There was another $500 million in permanent tax breaks for renters, seniors and others, also left out. Could the dropping of those tax breaks impact any lawmaker's reelection campaigns?

Yes, certainly, especially in the close races for incumbents who had been campaigning. I mean, these were popular items that passed the Legislature, both the House and the Senate, with overwhelming votes back in the summer, before the state learned that they would be sending back by law $3 billion in refunds to taxpayers across economic brackets. Now, perhaps no surprise that the $500 million in rebates for middle income taxpayers were dropped, given the $3 billion already going back. But some of these longer term permanent tax reforms were popular and many candidates were campaigning on them and the need to get them done, including Maura Healey at the top of the ticket, saying this will be her top priority when she gets — if she gets — into office to return to this issue. You know, will it swing any race? I guess that remains to be seen, but it certainly could be on the minds of voters who have yet to cast their ballots and are waiting until tomorrow.

Has there been any word on that being supported or not supported from Geoff Diehl?

Geoff Diehl, obviously (is) also big on tax cuts. He's been less specificthan Maura Healey, who's explicitly said she supports the package that Gov. Baker put forward and the one that the legislature passed. Geoff Diehl says he supports tax cuts and reducing state spending in general. And I think you would see him support a number of these tax cuts as well.

Carrie Healy hosts the local broadcast of "Morning Edition" at NEPM. She also hosts the station’s weekly government and politics segment “Beacon Hill In 5” for broadcast radio and podcast syndication.

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