I watched this evening’s Massachusetts Senate debate between Democrat Congressman Ed Markey and Republican Gabriel Gomez. The debate aired on WBZ-TV, the CBS affiliate here in Boston.
The Gomez-Markey debate was reminsicent of the debates last fall between Scott Brown and Elizabeth Warren. Brown stressed bipartisanship while Warren wore her liberalism on her sleeve. Well, we know how stressing bipartisanship turned out for Brown.
Tonight, Markey made every effort to link Gomez to the NRA and the Tea Party while warning his vote in the Senate could lead to Roe v. Wade being overturned. It would only be a slight exaggeration to make the observation that Gomez uttered the word “bipartisan” a hundred times.
While Markey came off as self-assured, Gomez’s delivery was stiff and at times lacked conviction. When Markey was speaking, Gomez was fidgety and seemed distracted. When debating the merits of American involvement in Syria, Gomez actually said that we needed “to align ourselves with the right terrorist group.” Of course, he meant rebel group. But he didn’t help himself in that exchange.
Don’t get me wrong. Gomez had some bright spots. His best moments came when he focused on Markey’s near four decade tenure in Washington. But Markey gave Gomez some openings that he did not use to his advantage. For instance, Keller asked the candidates if they thought Attorney Eric Holder should resign. While Gomez said yes, Markey managed to avoid the question altogether by turning his attention to Benghazi characterizing it as a Republican attack on Hillary Clinton. Gomez took Markey’s bait and focused on Hillary rather than pressing him to tell the audience whether he thinks Holder should resign. At one point, Markey accused Gomez of politicizing Benghazi and then seconds later blasted House Republicans for budget cuts to embassies and consulates. Gomez did not call him on that rhetorical sleight of hand.
This race has been considered a toss up but I think Markey’s people will be quite happy tonight. On the other hand, I supect most Bay State residents enjoyed an early evening outdoors before tuning into Game 3 of the NHL Eastern Conference Final between the Bruins and Penguins.
The special election will be held on June 25th.