As Bob Keough (late of MassINC and currently of the Massachusetts Energy and Environmental Affairs office) happily remarked afterward, (paraphrase here) who woulda thunk that the first gubernatorial debate would be about Cape Wind?
But it was.
And it was pretty good – an engaging, substantive hour of good green talk. In general, the debate mirrored the gubernatorial race itself: 3 on 1.
Gov. Deval Patrick is all for putting the wind turbine farm in Nantucket Sound, while his opponents – Republican Charlie Baker, Independent Tim Cahill, and Green-Rainbow Jill Stein – are all against it for a variety of reasons.
Those differences were hashed out in detail during the debate. Among the highlights:
The Numbers Racket
The candidates spun a head-spinning array of figures throughout the hour, from electricity rates to Cape Wind building costs to Massachusetts taxpayer subsidies to green-energy employment projections.
During the lightning round, the candidates were asked to catalogue the cars they own.
Winner (technically – or technologically): Jill Stein, who drives a Prius hybrid.
Winner (real world division): Charlie Baker, who owns a ’66 Mustang.
Stein went after Patrick three times for taking campaign contributions from Cape Wind-associated businesses and state utilities, creating a pay-for-play climate on Beacon Hill. In her third foray, Stein asked the governor if he was willing to return the special-interest money and restore trust in state government.
Apparently three times was the harm, because Patrick finally defended his honor, asserting that he took no Cape Wind money while “deciding my position” on the project, and insisting that he has always pursued the best interests of Massachusetts in spite of the contributions.
Winner: Probably Stein, but it doesn’t really matter.
Patrick: This project is good from an environmental/energy/economical/symbolic point of view.
Cahill: Government shouldn’t be picking winners and losers in the private sector.
Baker: First, do no harm financially
Stein: The move to renewable energy is the task of our generation.
Winner: All four. And anyone who sees the debate.
(The hardworking staff assumes MassINC will eventually post the video on its website.)
UPDATE: And they did.