Markey, Gomez face off in Senate debate

U.S. Senate candidates Gabriel Gomez and Edward Markey shook hands before their debate on Wednesday, June 5, 2013. Credit: Getty Images
U.S. Senate candidates Gabriel Gomez and Edward Markey shook hands before their debate on Wednesday, June 5, 2013. Credit: Getty Images

With less than three weeks until election day, Democratic congressman Ed Markey and Republican rival Gabriel Gomez held their first debate Wednesday in the race for Massachusetts’ open seat in the U.S. Senate.

Markey rebuffed a volley of criticism from former Navy SEAL Gomez who sought to paint the veteran lawmaker as out of touch with voters while tapping into public frustration with a federal government bogged down by controversies.

“You are basically Washington, D.C.,” Gomez told Markey, who has spent 37 years in Congress. “I’m sorry sir, but you are.”

Issues dogging the administration of Democratic President Barack Obama include reports that the Internal Revenue Service targeted conservative groups for extra scrutiny, the seizure of reporters’ records by the Department of Justice, and the deadly attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, last year.

Markey accused Gomez of politicizing the Benghazi attack – in which militants killed U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens – as part of a broader Republican effort to hurt former Secretary of State Hilary Clinton’s chances for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016.

Obama and Clinton were criticized for failing to ensure the security of diplomatic staff overseas and for delays in the subsequent investigation.

The Senate seat became available when President Obama named then-Senator John Kerry as Clinton’s replacement as secretary of state.

Markey was seen as having the most to lose in the debate, the first of three ahead of a June 25 special election. A New England College poll on Wednesday showed 52 percent of registered voters backing Markey, compared with 40 percent for Gomez.

The split largely reflected the state’s overwhelmingly Democratic electorate, said Ben Tafoya, who ran the poll.

“The clock is running out for Gomez, but it’s not inconceivable that something could happen in the debates to change things,” Tafoya said.

Jeffrey Berry, a professor of American politics at Tufts University, said he believed Markey may have come out of the debate stronger than when he went in.

“Markey’s strategy was to reinforce his appeal to liberal democrats because he believes they are the most likely to come out on election day, which is a sound strategy,” he said.

“For Gomez, this was a lost opportunity,” adding he did not seize on the Republican’s perceived advantage on the issue of the flagging U.S. economy.

Democrat William “Mo” Cowan is serving as interim senator until the Massachusetts special election.

Markey and Gomez have made the national Republican Party an issue in the Massachusetts race, with Markey’s campaign trying to tie Gomez to a party that tacks more conservative than many Massachusetts voters, while Gomez has stressed his independence.

In the New England College poll, roughly three-quarters of registered voters in each party backed their party’s candidate, with Gomez enjoying a slight lead among independents. The poll surveyed 734 voters on June 1 and 2.

The Massachusetts seat is one of two at play in the U.S. Senate, where Democrats now have a majority of 54 seats, including two independents who caucus with the Democrats. Republicans hold 45 seats.

Follow Metro Boston on Twitter: @MetroBos



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Federal mediator joins Met Opera labor talks as…

Unions representing the orchestra and chorus of the Met Opera agreed to have a federal mediator join labor talks on Thursday as a threatened lockout loomed.

Local

Winning $7 million New York lottery ticket sold…

The only $7 million winning New York Lottery ticket for Monday's Cash4Life drawing was sold at a Queens 7-Eleven, officials said on Tuesday.

Local

Brooklyn man charged in roommate's stabbing death

A Brooklyn man accused of violently stabbing his roommate to death on Monday is in police custody and faces murder charges.

International

Dinosaurs could have survived asteroid strike

It turns out there is a good and a bad time for the planet to be hit by a meteor, and dinosaurs were just unlucky.…

Movies

Review: 'Guardians of the Galaxy' is a refreshingly…

Marvel is sitting so high on a cash mountain that it's now thrown $170 million at the relatively obscure and very silly title "Guardians of the Galaxy."

Movies

Review: 'Get on Up' is a war between…

James Brown finally gets his own boring biopic with "Get on Up," but the Godfather of Soul puts up a good fight against the usual cliches.

Movies

Review: 'Child of God' finds director James Franco…

James Franco's 11th directed feature is a noble but sloppy adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's "Child of God," about a feral mountain man (Scott Haze).

Movies

Review: Alex Gibney's Fela Kuti doc 'Finding Fela'…

Prolific documentarian Alex Gibney takes on Afrobeat god Fela Kuti in "Finding Fela," but fails to capture his unique essence.

MLB

Yankees land Stephen Drew, Martin Prado at trade…

Yankees land Stephen Drew, Martin Prado at trade deadline

College

Playing the Field: Valentine's Day coupling edition

  It’s Valentine’s Day, a day created by Hallmark to make couples spend loads and loads of money on candy, flowers and gourmet dinners. Or…

MLB

Angelo Cataldi: Ryan Howard deserves better from Phillies

Just last week, Ryan Howard endured the embarrassment of a benching that was inevitable, and yet still shocking.

NFL

Larry Donnell has inside track in Giants tight…

Little-known Larry Donnell of Grambling State currently has the inside track, as the second-year player has received the bulk of the first-team reps.

Career

What do you wear to a career fair?…

Getting that gig starts with presenting the most polished and memorable version of yourself, so refer to our expert fashion advice.

Style

Editors pick: Margiela's finger armor ring

These cool rings from Maison Martin Margiela are designed to overlap over the finger, covering each joint like armor.

Style

Givenchy champions diversity

Riccardo Tisci's uses a variety of ethnically diverse ladies for his spring campaign including Erykah Badu.

Wellbeing

Don't settle for the hotel fitness center with…

Travelers who want to skip the hotel fitness center in favor of local gyms that may offer better equipment, classes and amenities can turn to…