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The Governor’s race

Candidates try to scare up votes

They trade sour words before giving out Halloween sweets

By Andrea Estes and Michael Levenson
Globe Staff / November 1, 2010

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Fred and Ben Simpson will not vote tomorrow, but when they showed up at Governor Deval Patrick’s house last night dressed as Harry Potter and a robot, they still got the full charm treatment: a handshake, a smile, and most importantly, a handful of Skittles, Snickers, and Twix.

“Good luck on Tuesday,’’ 8-year-old Ben Simpson told the governor, after a little prompting from his mother.

“Thank you,’’ Patrick said. “All the best. Happy Halloween.’’

It was the Halloween edition of the governor’s race yesterday as both front-runners trotted out the inevitable holiday-related themes in the waning hours of a long and grueling campaign.

Patrick’s Republican challenger, Charles D. Baker, toured the North Shore with supporters in orange-and-black T-shirts and dispatched volunteers dressed as M&M’s, who crashed Patrick’s campaign stops and mocked the governor’s unsuccessful push to remove the sales-tax exemption on candy and soda.

Baker repeatedly cited Halloween to attack the proposal as he visited Chelmsford, Haverhill, and Beverly with former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling.

“Who is going to tell our kids they have to pay $50 million in additional taxes to support his overspending on Beacon Hill?’’ Baker said to roars from supporters in Beverly.

Baker’s M&M’s held signs at Patrick’s events that read “Boooo taxes’’ and “Don’t tax me!’’

Patrick, dismissing Baker’s candy-tax attack as “another gimmick masquerading as a serious point,’’ slammed his GOP opponent for focusing so much on the negative he is “scaring people.’’

“This from a guy who brought us two of the worst fiscal disasters in the Commonwealth’s history: the Big Dig finance plan, and then what he did to escalate the cost of health insurance,’’ Patrick told reporters in Everett. “I’m just not interested in being lectured to by someone with that record.’’

Schilling rallied Baker’s supporters by telling them to send the same message tomorrow that they sent in January’s US Senate election, when they carried Scott Brown to an upset victory.

“We’re not happy, and we shouldn’t be,’’ Schilling told a crowd on Chelmsford Common. “Tuesday you’ll have a chance to be heard again.’’

Baker repeatedly sidestepped questions about Schilling, who earlier this year moved his video-game company from Massachusetts to Rhode Island after that state offered him $75 million in loan guarantees.

Schilling said the Patrick administration never contacted him about the relocation of his company, a charge Patrick disputed.

“We talked to Curt Schilling, and his price was too rich for Massachusetts,’’ Patrick told reporters. “Ask Charlie the question if he’d be willing to spend $75 million. Ask him if that’s a good way to spend taxpayer money.’’

State Treasurer Timothy P. Cahill, an independent candidate who is lagging in third place, campaigned in East Boston yesterday and joined supporters who held signs on Route 1 in Foxborough before the Patriots game. Like his competitors, Cahill invited reporters to watch him hand out candy at his home in Quincy last night.

“The theme for the final weekend is, as always, jobs, jobs, jobs,’’ said Cahill’s spokesman, David Kibbe.

Jill Stein, the Green-Rainbow candidate, greeted voters at the Boston Vegetarian Food Festival in Roxbury, her campaign said.

On the third day of Patrick’s bus tour yesterday, he spoke at churches in Boston and Randolph, shook hands with brunch patrons at a Medford restaurant, delivered a speech while standing on a chair in an Everett bar, and fired up supporters at a campaign office in Burlington before ending the day back at his home. At every stop, he urged his backers to mobilize for Election Day, telling them “it’s never been clearer what the choice is in this election.’’

“It’s about whether we’re going to fight for the American dream,’’ he said in Burlington. At his stop in Everett, he added: “As someone who’s lived the American dream myself, let me tell you: It’s worth fighting for.’’

Baker and his running mate, Senate minority leader Richard R. Tisei, rallied his supporters by charging that Patrick will raise taxes if he is reelected tomorrow.

“You can choose four more years of higher taxes. What do you think of that?’’ Baker shouted to about 250 supporters in a Beverly park.

“No,’’ shouted the crowd, many of whom hoisted red and white signs that read “Had enough? Vote Baker-Tisei.’’

Baker ended the day by handing out Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Kit Kats, and Hershey bars to trick-or-treaters at his Swampscott house. “I personally like these,’’ he said pointing to a Quaker Oats bar.

Patrick toured the state with Denise Anderson, a 43-year-old Mansfield resident whose son, Army Specialist Corey Shea, 21, was killed in Iraq on Nov. 12, 2008.

“He called me and supported me through all of that,’’ said Anderson, who was wearing her son’s dog tags around her neck. “A person as caring as that needs to be in office.’’

Today, the candidates will hit the trail for one final time before the polls open. Patrick will make eight stops, including one with Vicki Kennedy in Marlborough and one with Mayor Thomas M. Menino in Roslindale, before holding a nighttime Homecoming Rally at the Milton Hoosic Club.

Baker will greet voters at a Beverly train station, visit his regional campaign offices, and hold his own hometown rally at Swampscott High School.

Travis Andersen of the Globe Staff contributed to this report. Andrea Estes can be reached at estes@globe.com.; Michael Levenson at mlevenson@globe.com.

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