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Massachusetts Senate race Debate 2: Gomez plays the 'independent' card (+video)

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Indeed, Gomez’s message was easy to identify Tuesday night. He spoke several times of placing “people above party and politics” and putting fresh legs on the field in Washington D.C. He needled Markey repeatedly for his 37 years in Congress, noting that when the congressman was first elected in 1976, Gerald Ford was president and Gomez himself was an 11-year-old playing Little League.

“I’m sorry, sir,” he said, repeating a favorite line, “but you are Washington, D.C.”

As the debate skimmed across gun control, taxes, national security, and equal pay, Gomez frequently refused to tie himself to a specific promise or position, instead arguing that he would consider each issue as it came before him – regardless of the GOP line.

When asked if he would consider ending the mortgage deduction received by homeowners as part of a tax code reform, Gomez said he didn’t think so, but he wasn’t sure. Were he to serve in the Senate, “I’m for putting everything on the table and discussing it,” he said.

Markey, on the other hand, continued his analytical assault on Gomez’s arguments and had a firm line on nearly every subject presented. He opposes the Keystone XL pipeline, supports an assault weapons ban, and believes that election spending by corporations and unions should be capped.

In the past, Mr. Kimball notes, Markey has been accused of coming up strong on facts but being weak on style. While Gomez frequently emphasizes his ethnic background ­– his parents are Colombian immigrants – and says he’s “lived the American dream,” Markey has mostly hewed close to political issues in his stump speeches and press conferences.

Tuesday night, however, he made rare mention of his own history. Talking about his support for closing the gender gap in pay, he discussed how his mother was prevented from going to college by his grandmother’s death, which forced her to stay home to help raise her younger sisters. 

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