Gov. candidates spar at forum

The Democratic candidates for governor gathered at a Jamaica Plain forum for the first time following the state party convention June 14. Although the group was smaller, there were plenty of fireworks, as state Treasurer Steve Grossman and state Attorney General Martha Coakley sparred over campaign finances.

About 60 people were at the Curley K-8 School for the forum, which was co-sponsored by the Massachusetts Latino Caucus, the Ward 19 Democratic Committee and the Ward 11 Democratic Committee.

Coakley, Grossman and Don Berwick were the candidates who attended the forum, as Joe Avellone and Juliette Kayyem have since exited the race after failing to garner enough votes at the convention for the primary ballot. Grossman won the convention, while Coakley and Berwick finished second and third, respectively.

Coakley had sent out a press release prior to the forum asking for the candidates to sign the “People’s Pledge,” which seeks to curb spending by third parties.

Grossman called the press release “laughable.” He noted that he had offered a “People’s Pledge” in September and that Coakley did not sign it. Grossman said now that she had failed to win the convention, she was switching her stance. He also pointed to the fact that Coakley had been found to have violated campaign finance laws and had to return $24,000 in contributions.

Coakley responded that the pledge is about having transparency, and noted that although Grossman had been for the pledge, he now has a Super PAC, or political action committee, campaigning for him. She admitted that she had violated campaign finance laws, but said once she had been made aware of it, she had fixed the problems.

Berwick said he would sign the pledge.

Besides that debate, the candidates responded to most questions with common themes from the campaign. Berwick frequently touched on social inequality, while Grossman focused on job creation. Coakley promoted her record as attorney general, saying she sued a Dorchester bar because it refused to admit minorities and won a $100,00 settlement.

Local City Councilor Matt O’Malley made an appearance at the forum. So did Suffolk County Sheriff candidate Doug Bennett and three candidates for clerk of Suffolk County Probate Court: Felix D. Arroyo, David Keenan and Martin Keough.

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