Oct 13, 2022 - Politics

Affordability, abortion, social issues divide candidates for governor

Photo illustration of Maura Healey tinted blue and Geoff Diehl tinted red separated by a white halftone divider.

Photo illustration: Axios Visuals. Photos: David L. Ryan and Craig F. Walker/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Both candidates for governor of Massachusetts have made economic issues and affordability the cornerstones of their campaigns. But at last night’s debate, cultural issues were persistent reminders that this election is set against the backdrop of national politics.

Catch up fast: Much of the debate between Attorney General Maura Healey (D) and former state Rep. Geoff Diehl (R) centered on the cost of living, with an emphasis on home heating costs.

  • Diehl said Healey's dedication to rapidly adopting green energy will only drive up costs for consumers.
  • He pointed to his own successful campaign in 2012 to repeal a gas tax increase.
  • Healey said her office has stood up to utility companies, saving state ratepayers billions.

The intrigue: Early on, Healey declared that "abortion is on the ballot in this race," and later labeled Diehl's stance on the issue as "extreme, dangerous," and him as "unqualified to serve."

  • Diehl said he “appreciated” the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade because it makes abortion a state issue. He said as governor, he'd work within the confines of the state’s Roe Act, which expanded protections to abortion access, but he opposes provisions that limit parental notification and care for the child after a failed procedure.
  • Diehl compared the phrase "my body, my choice" in support of abortion rights to the "civil right" of people to refuse medical vaccines, which he supports.

On education, Healey said she'd make sure schools are fully funded according to the state formula, and that they provide more educational and mental health services.

  • Diehl said parents are upset about lessons on implicit racial bias that introduce students to ideas like white privilege.
  • "Parents are angry about it and they're leaving our state schools," Diehl said, adding that he would support alternatives to public schools and more parental control over curricula.

Housing affordability, another pocketbook issue, was also at the center of the debate.

  • Diehl said the state has an opportunity to lower housing costs by promoting rail lines to the South Coast and western Massachusetts and embracing remote work.
  • Healey pointed to her housing plan, which includes separating housing and economic development into two Cabinet positions.

When asked about transportation, Diehl said he would work with MBTA employees, not consultants or foreign manufacturers, to fix the T.

  • Healey would replace the MBTA executive team and increase the agency's workforce.

On the opioid epidemic, Diehl said he would promote recovery programs outside of major cities and find ways to make suburban communities more invested in fighting addiction.

  • Healey said she'd push for more long-term housing for those in recovery and improve law enforcement's ability to crack down on drug trafficking.

Between the lines: Healey's repeated vow to cut taxes as governor may have been a bit of surprise coming from a Democrat, but if she ends up signing a tax relief bill still being worked on by Democratic leaders on Beacon Hill, she'd do just that next year.

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