In the first of three gubernatorial debates, the pressure was on Democratic challenger Jay Gonzalez, who was down more than 40 points in the latest poll behind incumbent Charlie Baker.
Highlighting Baker’s party affiliation was clearly a priority of Gonzalez. Within minutes, he mentioned Baker’s support of Republican Geoff Diehl, a former State campaign chairman for President Donald Trump, who is challenging Senator Elizabeth Warren. Gonzalez also highlighted Baker’s self-proclaimed loyalty to the Republican ticket.
"My views on Donald Trump are quite well known. I didn’t vote for him," Baker shot back.
Gonzalez also attacked Baker on his management of the state’s public transit system, saying Baker wasn’t doing enough or spending enough.
"We spent $1.9 billion over the past three years on what I call the current operation of the T," Baker refuted.
Gonzalez followed with a line he seemed waiting to use, "I'm surprised that commuters haven't revolted and started a petition to change the name of these Tee passes from Charlie card to 'Where’s Charlie Card?'"
Gonzalez frequently reiterated that he would be the bold, progressive leader to Baker's status quo.
"I'm running for Governor to fight for all the little guys there, all the workers," the Democratic challenger said.
But Baker had his come back at the ready.
"When he had his tiller on the state budget, he cut the Department of Children and Families," Baker said. "Now that’s about as little guy as you can get."
In the end, both felt they got the job done.
"I enjoyed it," Baker said as he expressed how he thought the debate was fun.
Gonzalez boasted how confident he felt about the exchange.
"I feel great about tonight," he said.
But for Gonzalez, the significant shift in the race did not happen. The two face off in their second debate on October 17.