Coakley’s Latest Gaffe Joins Massachusetts Political History
Wednesday, May 21, 2014
Coakley’s recent gaffe on WCVB’s “On the Record” has earned the Massachusetts gubernatorial candidate much criticism since going on the show on Sunday the 18th. Although Coakley has since admitted that her comment was a mistake, experts now wonder if this gaffe will have an impact on her campaign.
"Very few people get 100 percent of the pop quiz questions on OTR correct and Martha made a mistake,” said Bonnie McGilpin, a spokesperson for Martha Coakley. “Martha knows that the gas tax is a critical funding source to make the transportation infrastructure investments that are necessary to move Massachusetts forward."
When asked in a pop quiz about the current gas tax in the Commonwealth, Coakley replied that the tax per gallon of gas was 10-cents which is less than half what the current tax is right now at 24-cents. That tax price is expected to rise next year because the tax figure is tied to inflation.
Political gaffes have often led to destroyed campaigns, something that many politicians – including Martha Coakley – have seen in the past.
While running for senator against Scott Brown in 2010, Coakley made comments about Fenway Park and Brown’s efforts to greet potential voters outside the historic ballpark saying, “As opposed to standing outside Fenway Park? In the cold? Shaking hands?”
The comments were heavily scrutinized saying that Coakley was far too passive in her campaigning; something that many say led to her losing the Senate race.
Associate Professor of Political Science at UMass Boston Erin O’Brien feels that although the gaffe has the potential to be damaging when put with other evidence, the gaffe itself is not something that could threaten Coakley’s campaign.
“As a political scientist, this gaffe isn’t surprising to me at all,” said O’Brien. “Things like this happen a lot; a factual error isn’t a huge deal. I think that people will continue to make a big deal or this and if paired with other facts, this could become problematic.”
Through all of the negative criticism, Coakley’s competency has remained relatively unscathed, with O’Brien pointing out that the majority of people in Massachusetts feel as though she is doing a great job as the current Attorney General.
While not condemning Coakley’s campaign, O’Brien says that Charlie Baker’s campaign is smart to continue to try to get this latest gaffe out to the public in any way possible. Coakley may be the current favorite to with the gubernatorial election, but if Baker plays his cards right, he could rocket past her to become the next Massachusetts governor.
“When this mistake happened, many people smelt blood in the water,” said O’Brien. “It is very smart politics; I wouldn’t say that it is fair politics however. For anyone who is advising Baker, it makes perfect and logical sense to latch onto something like this and continue to work with it.”
Backlash from Republicans
“If you want to be Governor, and you support an automatic increase in the gas tax, you should know what the current tax rate is,” said Baker. “That the Attorney General, who had to certify a ballot question on this topic, would think the state gas tax is 10 cents is a little scary.”
One of the largest concerns with Coakley as a governor is that through her campaigning which at times has been lackluster, she has seems to distance herself from the working class. According to Bill McCarthy, a member of the Massachusetts Republican Party State Committee, this is something that raises a major red flag.
“Hearing Coakley’s comments lead me to believe that she is out of touch with the working class,” said McCarthy. “I don’t think she knows the plight of the average person in this state. As things begin to stack up, I think we will see more and more that she doesn’t know how to work in or for the real world.”
McCarthy says that part of this disconnect could be that Coakley’s position as the Attorney General doesn’t allow her as many dealings with the working class as other political jobs. McCarthy is concerned that the transition is a hard one to make; having to switch gears and work with and for the working class is a difficult task.
Gas tax rates being tied to inflation is a huge deal, according to McCarthy, and is something that can have huge implications on the future. That is ultimately the concern when he thinks of Coakley and her recent gaffe; how are people to take her seriously if she can’t even stay current on important and current issues.
“I am concerned because you have someone that isn’t up to date on important economic issues, especially one that is as important as this,” said McCarthy. “Coming up with inflation relies on a lot of experts and economists looking at data and then juggling numbers. But these numbers don’t always offer a full picture. And now we have a law that will add this equation into gas. If I had to give Coakley a grade for this whole thing, I would say that get gets an F.”
Related Slideshow: Prominent Political Gaffes In Massachusetts’ History
Tim Murray Car Crash Controversy
Tim Murray, who was Lt. Governor of Massachusetts at the time, crashed a government vehicle on a stretch of I-190. Although originally saying that he simple lost control of the vehicle, it was later revealed that he was both speeding and not wearing a seatbelt.
Willie Horton Ad Destroys Dukakis Campaign
Michael Dukakis lost a double digit lead in the presidential election to George H. W. Bush when an ad depicting Willie Horton was released. The ad highlighted Dukakis' policy of criminal furloughs for some criminals when he was the governor of Massachusetts.
- NEW: Martha Coakley to Run for Governor of Massachusetts
- Who Would You Vote for Governor: Baker or Coakley
- NEW: EMILY’s List Endorses Martha Coakley in MA Governor’s Race
- NEW: Coakley to Run for Governor
- Charlie Baker Visits Central Mass. Business Expo
- NEW: Democrats Hit Charlie Baker on the Eve of His Announcement
- Mathew Helman: Charlie Baker Hopes You Have A Short Memory
- Don Roach: Can Charlie Baker Appeal to the Masses?
- Paul Giorgio: What’s Going on with Charlie Baker and the Mass GOP?
- Charlie Baker Accepts Republican Party Nomination for Governor
- Paul Giorgio: Charlie Baker’s Tea Party Problem: Mark Fisher
- Coakley Leads National Push for New Leadership at Fannie and Freddie
- NEW: Coakley Hits National Grid with Record $16 Million in Fines
- NEW: Coakley Appoints Gaming Enforcement Division Chief
- Coakley Joins National Fight Against Gay Marriage Ban
- AG Coakley Calls on Legislature to Raise MA Minimum Wage
- NEW: Coakley Calls for New DCF Division for Child Abuse + Neglect
- Kayyem Blasts Coakley for Opposing Federal Health Exchange Option
- NEW: Coakley Calls for Increased SuperPac Transparency in MA Campaigns
- Berwick Responds to MassEquality’s Decision to Endorse Coakley
- Planned Parenthood Endorses Martha Coakley for Governor
- Baker Urges Patrick, Coakley to Prevent Fed. Healthcare Takeover
- NEW: Poll Shows 10-Point Lead for Coakley Over Baker in Gov. Race
- Biggest MA Political Comebacks: Baker, Coakley, Fresolo?
- Coakley Disavows SuperPAC Ads
- New: Baker Blasts Coakley on Gas Tax Gaffe