The X factor

By DAVID S. BERNSTEIN  |  November 24, 2009

Last chance
Punches may also be thrown in two televised debates that will kick off the last week of campaigning.

These back-to-back debates, taking place immediately after the holiday weekend, could be crucial. On Tuesday, WCVB will host a one-hour debate, while a consortium including NECN and WGBH will host one the following evening.

If Coakley's lead is solid, those debates should be largely irrelevant — as long as she doesn't screw up. But if there is an opening for a challenger to emerge and make this a competitive two-person battle, it will likely happen those two nights.

That could be the point when voters — who have seen plenty of Capuano and Pagliuca ads — first take notice of Khazei, who was deemed by many analysts to have performed well in the one previous televised debate.

Even so, Khazei could be hard-pressed to take advantage: he had only $500,000 cash on hand as of November 18. Capuano had $1.1 million, and Coakley had $1.9 million — while Pagliuca, with a personal fortune, presumably has as much as he wants at his disposal.

That means voters should be seeing plenty of the candidates' final pitches in the week after Thanksgiving — if they're not already distracted by their Christmas planning.

To read the "Talking Politics" blog, go to David S. Bernstein can be reached at

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