Gabriel Gomez and Edward Markey spent their final debate before next week’s U.S. Senate special election clashing over their records and who has the better vision for both their commonwealth and their country.
The debate, taped in Boston, broadcast on several local networks and moderated by veteran city newsman and Boston University professor R.D. Sahl, was the last of three contests before voters head to the polls to fill U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s former seat.
No matter the issue, be it taxes, gun control, abortion, national security and their own personal and professional histories, the two men found disagreements at every turn.
Each candidate could agree on one thing: they believe the other candidate’s ideas are “old and stale.”
Markey, a Democratic congressman from Malden since 1976, went after Gomez, a former U.S. Navy SEAL and businessman from Cohasset, about not disclosing his clients from his time working at private equity firm Advent International.
“We don’t know who he worked for,” Markey said. “We have to know who’s side he’s going to be on.”
Gomez corrected Markey, saying his firm didn’t have clients but actually had investors. Among his investors: President Barack Obama, among many other public sector employees.
“President Obama would not be an investor if we weren’t $17 trillion in debt,” said Gomez, who mentioned several times that the nation debt has swelled from $670 billion to $17 trillion since Markey took office.
Gomez has been a champion of term limits for members of Congress, but was challenged by Markey, who asserted that Gomez surely didn’t tell Arizona Sen. John McCain he shouldn’t run for his seat again when the former presidential candidate came to campaign for him recently.
Gomez said he had, in fact, told McCain that he should be term-limited. Markey simply could not believe that was true.
“Are you calling him a liar?” Sahl asked.
“I’m saying that did not happen,” Markey said.
Within that exchange, Gomez listed a number of areas where he believes his party is wrong right now, including immigration, gay marriage, expanded background checks for firearms sales, the environment and global warming.
“Nothing’s going to change if Mr. Markey wins this election,” Gomez said. “We’re going to have the same D.C. down there and we’re going to have the same dysfunction.”
On gun control, Markey asked Gomez why he opposed a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines and where a civilian would “need a weapon where they could shoot a gun with 100 bullets in under 2 minutes.”
Gomez said Markey was “completely misrepresenting my position” on gun control and claimed to be the only one of the two candidates to be able to work across the aisle to get an expanded background checks bill passed.
Markey posed the question again, saying Massachusetts citizens are “not the laggards, we’re the leaders on assault weapons bans and we want one for the whole country.”
“I want to ban all weapons from the wrong people,” Gomez said.
In their closing statements, Gomez said he hoped the people of Massachusetts would give him 17 months to prove himself in office as a Senator. Markey said he wanted to join the Senate to “ensure the 21st century is more educated, more healthy, more prosperous and more fair than the 20th century was.”
The election is next Tuesday, June 25.