Democratic gubernatorial candidate Martha Coakley knocked Republican candidate Charlie Baker today on the issue of raising the state minimum wage, saying he “would side with big corporations and leave working families to go [at] it alone.”
In an email to supporters, Coakley, the Attorney General, drew a distinction between her view — she supports increasing the minimum wage — and Baker’s. The comments mark the first time she has directly taken the Republican on since she launched her campaign for the Democratic nomination for governor.
On Friday, Baker reportedly declined to endorse a proposal that would raise the minimum wage from $8 to $11 an hour, though it was unclear what specific proposal that was.
Late last year, the state Senate passed a bill that would incrementally increase the state hourly minimum wage from $8 to $11 by the middle of 2016 and connect future hikes to inflation.
Striking a note of economic populism on a key issue for progressive activists, Coakley wrote that since the recession, many “at the top” have come out okay while many working families have fallen further behind. She said that is why the minimum wage ought to be raised.
“Unfortunately, Charlie Baker doesn’t see it that way. Just this past week, he spoke to a Chamber of Commerce and reiterated his opposition to raising the minimum wage. He not only said he doesn’t believe we should raise the minimum wage, but that he would actually slash the minimum for some workers,” she wrote.
“This is the difference between how Charlie and I would govern — I would stand up for working families and listen to them, he would side with big corporations and leave working families to go it alone.”
Baker spokesman Tim Buckley slammed the email.
“The Attorney General’s politically motivated attack is patently false and will do little to help Massachusetts wage earners,” he said in a statement. “Charlie’s position remains clear: he is open to an increase in the minimum wage, but thinks we may be able to do better for low-income workers by exploring increases in the earned income tax credit and enacting reforms that protect workers’ hours and create new jobs.”
Buckley said he did not have a recording or a transcript of Baker’s Friday remarks on the minimum wage.
Baker, the 2010 GOP gubernatorial nominee, faces Mark R. Fisher, a political novice from Shrewsbury who aligns himself with the Tea Party, in the Republican primary.
Coakley’s opponents for the Democratic nomination are: Treasurer Steven Grossman; former Obama administration health care official Donald M. Berwick; Juliette Kayyem, a former state and federal homeland security official; and Joseph C. Avellone, an executive at a bio-pharmaceutical research firm.
Two independent candidates have also launched bids for governor: Evan Falchuk, an attorney and former business executive; and evangelical christian pastor Scott Lively.
Venture capital investor Jeffrey S. McCormick, an independent, is seriously considering a run as well.