Massachusetts is unusually lucky to have two extremely competent and qualified women running for State Auditor.
The race is very close. Suzanne Bump has been maintaining a slight lead in the polls. In a recent Suffolk University/7News Poll, Suzanne Bump led Mary Connaughton 29 to 27%. A Globe poll two weeks later has Bump leading Connaughton 33 to 29%. With 5 weeks left before the election, 40% of voters have still not made up their minds.
It is likely many voters will go into the voting booth not knowing either of these candidates well. To some extent their fortunes ride on the fate of the Governor’s race. What will make the difference is how well both of them get their message out, and manage to convert voters who would otherwise vote on party lines, into informed voters who would vote specifically for them.
Jim Braude’s Debate Video
Braude has done an excellent job again in his interview. He posed many tough and interesting questions.
Both candidates did an excellent job of telling voters about themselves, and why they are a good choice for Auditor. For all the questions specifically related to the Auditors job and priorities both of them did a great job.
When Braude got off Auditor’s topics, and on to other issues, it seems Connaughton would not give simple answers to his questions, answering always with what essentially sounded like her standard campaign speech. Bump was somewhat more open with voters.
It sounds like Connaughton may have been given some dodgy political advice – when pressed on non-campaign issues, steer it right back to the main campaign points no matter how forced it sounds. I can understand why Connaughton would do that. The auditor’s job is a non-policy making role where competence, independence and professionalism should be the main qualifications.
But she could answer it a little bit better. Why not say something more straightforward like:
“As a voter I have opinions on every issue. Voters may not agree with me on everything. But the auditors office doesn’t make policy on that issue. I’d like to focus on what I can do as state Auditor – which is to root out fraud, waste and corruption. I’m committed to making sure that state agencies implement public policy faithfully and efficiently.”
It sounds less evasive.
The Question of Qualifications
Mary Connaughton has been making an issue of qualifications. She contends that Massachusetts would be better served by by an auditor who is a CPA and has worked as a professional auditor in the private sector. She is right, that she brings to the job a kind of experience that Suzanne Bump doesn’t have.
Bump counters that her work as a legislator brings experience that Connaughton doesn’t have – working with state agencies and helping to set policy.
Both kinds of experience is valuable to the job of Auditor. It will be up to the voters to decide which one is more important.