BOSTON (CBS) – Sorry to break it to you if you’re one who believes all politicians are the same and it doesn’t matter who’s elected, but it really does matter who gets elected governor of Massachusetts a week from next Tuesday.

The governor wields great power, over spending, taxes, schools, and everything in between. Even a Republican governor dealing with an overwhelmingly Democratic legislature can have tremendous impact, just by using their bully pulpit.

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So Tuesday night’s debate between front runners Charlie Baker and Martha Coakley mattered, as all the televised debates do. You should try to watch it online if you missed it, but I watched every minute of it closely, and here’s what I saw:

• Both Coakley and Baker appear totally qualified to be governor. Both were calm and in control of their material under the pressure of live TV, and as they have each acknowledged, both have the necessary character to handle the job well, campaign mudslinging notwithstanding.

• Both candidates are essentially technocrats, absorbed in questions of process and well-versed in the technical language of policy and management. Either one will be a change from Gov. Patrick, who preferred to think big and leave the details to others, sometimes with unfortunate results.

• In their battle for the compassion high ground, both Coakley and Baker have issues. Coakley’s compassion for folks apparently ends at their tax bill, while Baker plays pretend when he claims social services won’t suffer from a no-new-revenue policy.
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But whatever their differences, and with all due respect to the three independents, one of these two will be wielding great power over your life come next January.

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Let’s all hope they use it wisely.

Listen to Jon’s commentary:

You can listen to Keller At Large on WBZ News Radio every weekday at 7:55 a.m. You can also watch Jon on WBZ-TV News.

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Jon Keller