Jeff Bailey, the Attleboro Republican attempting to unseat Democratic state Sen. James Timilty, recently attacked the incumbent's treatment of small businesses.
Timilty responded that his record is good and business groups agree.
Following last week's announcement from the Massachusetts Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development that statewide unemployment had climbed from 6.1 percent in July to 6.3 percent in August, Bailey issued a statement that Timilty didn't understand "how vital small businesses are to our state." He said his evidence was the senator voting in favor of a bill recently signed by Gov. Deval Patrick into law that Bailey described as "forc[ing] home daycare centers to join state employee unions."
Bailey wrote, "That's about as anti-small business as you can get. Our families deserve a senator who is focused on job creation not fighting for the Boston labor unions."
When asked about this statement, Timilty said what was actually approved did not affect private business. He noted the only people eligible to unionize under the measure are independent childcare providers who work out of a home and receive compensation through state vouchers.
"It makes certain that those who are taking care of our children in a state-supported setting are reimbursed at a livable wage since they are doing the most important job, which is taking care of our kids, while individuals are away at work," Timilty said.
The senator also took exception to Bailey's characterization of him as not being a supporter of small businesses. He said he speaks to business leaders regularly, especially at ribbon-cutting events hosted by the United Regional Chamber of Commerce, to find out what their needs are. Timilty also noted that he received an 80 percent rating in the National Federation of Independent Business' 2011-12 Legislator Report Card and was named one of the "Great 8" legislators for 2011-12 by the state's Restaurant and Business Alliance.
This has been a mostly quiet campaign for the seat of the Bristol and Norfolk District, which includes Foxborough, Mansfield, Norton, Rehoboth, Seekonk, portions of Attleboro (Wards 4, 5, 6 and Precinct B of Ward 3), Medfield, Walpole and portions of Sharon (Precincts 1, 4 and 5).
Bailey has been the senior pastor at Grace Baptist Church in Attleboro for 23 years and founded the church's K-12 school. This is his first political run. Timilty, a resident of Walpole from a family with an extensive history in Massachusetts politics, was first elected as senator in 2004.
During the summer, Bailey had challenged Timilty to nine debates. The senator reiterated this week a statement he made during the summer, that he would debate Bailey as long as the host were "an organic, non-partisan entity." The two are yet to meet in a debate, but they will both appear at an event next month in Norwood hosted by local League of Women Voters groups. One of the organizers stressed the event, which will feature contestants in other political races, is a forum and not a debate.
The forum, hosted by the League of Women Voters of Norwood and the League of Women Voters of Walpole/Westwood, will take place at Norwood Town Hall on Oct. 18 at 7 p.m. An organizer said the portion involving Bailey and Timilty is expected to take place after 8 p.m.
August unemployment was 4.9 percent in Foxborough, down from 5.3 percent in July.