Race to replace John Kerry: Who's real champion of the 'little guy'?
In the first televised debate between the Massachusetts Democrats seeking to replace John Kerry in the Senate, Stephen Lynch accused front-runner Ed Markey of 'siding with the big guys.'
In their first televised debate before a special US Senate election, Rep. Stephen Lynch sought to make up some ground against front-runner Rep. Ed Markey, framing the race as a debate over which of them really stands up for ordinary citizens.
The two Democrats, in their bids for the seat recently vacated by John Kerry (D), sparred over issues ranging from health care and abortion to the economic plight of Bay State fishermen.
Representative Lynch challenged his rival to explain a vote to bail out the banking industry in 2008, and his ties to big telecommunications firms.
‚ÄúThere seems to be a pattern,‚ÄĚ Lynch said in the Wednesday match-up. ‚ÄúYou‚Äôre siding with the big guys against the little guys‚Ä¶. What‚Äôs up with that?‚ÄĚ
Representative Markey, the longest-serving member of the state‚Äôs congressional delegation, parried the attacks by saying he has used his career in the House to break up telecom monopolies, and that the banking bailout was needed to rescue the whole economy from the risk of a severe depression.
‚ÄúWe could not allow the banking system to collapse onto the hopes and dreams of every family in America,‚ÄĚ Markey said.
Lynch is pitching himself as the centrist in the race, at a time when Congress needs to break a pattern of partisan gridlock. Contrasting himself with both the ‚Äúhard left‚ÄĚ and ‚Äúhard right,‚ÄĚ he said ‚ÄúI don't work for Nancy Pelosi,‚ÄĚ and¬† that if elected to the Senate he won‚Äôt work for majority leader Harry Reid.
In a state with a strongly Democratic electorate, Markey‚Äôs stronger liberal credentials may be one reason he‚Äôs been polling ahead of Lynch. He said the vote for Obamacare, the Affordable Care Act, was the ‚Äúthe proudest vote of my career,‚ÄĚ and that he‚Äôs supported abortion rights for three decades.
Lynch identifies himself as pro-life, while also saying he‚Äôs against overturning the Supreme Court‚Äôs Roe vs. Wade decision. He praised the group Planned Parenthood (which has endorsed Markey) because reducing unwanted pregnancies is ‚Äúthe real goal‚ÄĚ in the quest to bring down abortion rates.
Lynch was one of the rare House Democrats who voted against the Affordable Care Act. He explained his vote by saying the measure raised taxes for businesses and lacked a ‚Äúpublic option‚ÄĚ health plan to spur competition in the insurance industry.
On the Republican side, a handful of less-known Massachusetts politicians are competing for the nomination: former US attorney Michael Sullivan, state Rep. Daniel Winslow, and Gabriel Gomez, a private equity investor and former Navy SEAL.