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Candidates running for governor face off in first live debate

The five Democratic gubernatorial hopefuls came together in the Globe Lab Wednesday for the first of many debates leading up to the election this November.

Mass. Attorney Gen. Martha Coakley, Mass. Treasurer Steven Grossman, biotech executive Joseph Avellone, former Boston Globe columnist and federal homeland security official Juliette Kayyem and former Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Donald Berwick spoke about transportation, education and job creation in the Commonwealth.

Travis Shofner, spokesman for the Massachusetts Democratic Party, said he is very excited about the pool of candidates his party has cultivated in this race and he is looking forward to continuing the discussion on who has the best ideas to lead in Massachusetts.

“Once again, the Democratic candidates for Governor shared their ideas and values with the voters of Massachusetts,” he said in a Wednesday statement. “Discussing transportation, education, creating jobs and moving the economy forward, health care coverage for all, and making Massachusetts an even better place to live and work are key to our values and that is why voters continue to elect Democrat leaders statewide and to the legislature.”

Although the candidates tried to distinguish themselves from one another in this first debate, they agreed on most topics presented by the moderator, including education and transportation.

In light of the United States prosecutors announcing on Jan. 30 that they would seek the death penalty against Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the candidates all said they oppose the decision and are strongly against the death penalty, no matter the circumstance.

“The death penalty has no place in our jurisprudence,” Berwick said.

A few in the race were missing from the debate, including Charles Baker, the only Republican candidate, and businessman Jeffrey McCormick, an independent who launched his campaign on Tuesday.

“GOP candidate Republican Charlie Baker doesn’t want the public to hear his ideas so he won’t let media cover events, and he’s making back room deals to limit the Republican field of candidates,” Shofner said.

The Baker campaign could not be reached on Wednesday.

In the most recent gubernatorial poll, conducted by Suffolk University and the Boston Herald on Tuesday, Coakley led with 44 percent with Baker following with 31 percent.

“The survey shows that Martha Coakley is the frontrunner in the Democratic pack, and she leads Charlie Baker by double-digits,” said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center in Boston in a Tuesdayrelease. “However, Baker shows considerable strength when matched up against the other potential Democratic nominees.”

In the Democratic pool, Coakley is the strongest candidate followed by Grossman, Kayyem, Avellone and then Berwick, with 27 percent of voters undecided, according to the poll.

The gubernatorial election is set to take place on Nov. 4.

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