Joanne Rathe/Bill Greene/Globe Staff
Locked in a close race with polls opening in less than 24 hours, Democratic Governor Deval Patrick and Republican challenger Charles Baker made a number of campaign appearances today, hopscotching around central and eastern Massachusetts in a quest for the votes that will give them the winner's edge.
Baker greeted commuters in Beverly and South Station this morning and plans to make phone calls to voters this afternoon from three different campaign offices before a homecoming rally in Swampscott. Patrick continued a state bus tour in New Bedford, Marlborough, Worcester, and Lowell. He plans rallies in Roslindale and Roxbury before a homecoming event in Milton tonight.
Standing on a milk crate outside a Marlborough restaurant where he planned to eat lunch with Vicki Kennedy, widow of the late US Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Patrick bellowed to dozens of supporters, "As my beloved Ted Kennedy would say, Victory is in the air! … I need you to come out tomorrow and bring this home."
Four years ago, on the eve of being elected to his first term, Patrick had come to the same restaurant, Kennedy's (no relation to the legendary political clan), to have lunch with the late senator.
As a scrum of reporters jostled for position today, Vicki Kennedy said, "I'm looking forward to a great victory tomorrow. … Right now, Governor Patrick has done everything he can do and now it's up to the voters to do everything they can do."
In Milton this morning, Baker rolled out his latest attack on the governor, highlighting a $4.5 million horse bridge that he called an example of wasteful spending. “It’s just one more example of the misplaced priorities of the Patrick administration,” he said.
But the repair of the historic bridge was actually supported and planned by three previous Republican administrations. Baker tried to argue it was ultimately Patrick’s responsibility because he was in office when money for the project was spent.
Patrick responded that the bridge carried public safety vehicles and was threatening to cave in on drivers on Route 24.
"It's a perfect example of Charlie Baker's Big Dig management because it, like hundreds of roads and bridges across the Commonwealth was neglected because of the choices he made to kick the can down the road," Patrick said.
Baker has spent more than a week using props and stunts to mock Patrick. Sunday, it was supporters dressed as M&M’s to decry Patrick’s attempt to repeal the tax exemption on soda and candy. Friday, he printed welfare cards with Patrick’s name on them to highlight the ability of cash assistance recipients to use their cards for alcohol and cigarettes. He has also held press events in front of Fenway Park and the Boston Harbor to make other points about job losses and a plan to buy a barge that was never pursued.
Patrick has dismissed the attacks as 11th-hour gimmicks. Today he sought to turn Baker's closing barrrage of attacks back on the Republican candidate, accusing Baker of taking a negative tone and "talking down" the Commonwealth instead of "lifting us up."
“I don’t think those are gimmicks,” Baker said. “I think they’re our way of making clear to voters that they have a clear choice in this election between higher taxes and more spending and less focus on jobs and job creation, and our approach, which is to reform state government, reduce taxes, clean up our regulatory mess, focus on getting people back to work.”
Treasurer Timothy Cahill, the independent candidate, who is running a distant third, scheduled a full day of Boston-area appearances. Green-Rainbow Party candidate Jill Stein is also in the race.
Martin Finucane of the Globe staff contributed to this report.
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