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    Campaign Notebook

    Mass. Senate candidates debate Wednesday

    Candidates for the state’s special Senate election are scheduled to meet Wednesday for the first televised debates of the campaign, back-to-back, half-hour sessions, between the ­Republicans and then the ­Democrats.

    The debates, hosted by the Boston Media Consortium and set to be aired on WCVB-TV (Channel 5) from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m., will offer most voters their first chance to watch the contenders to fill the seat left open when John F. Kerry resigned to become secretary of state.

    Former New England Cable News anchor R.D. Sahl will moderate both match-ups.

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    On Thursday, the three GOP candidates are slated to meet in Springfield for a 7 p.m. debate.

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    Voters in both parties will pick nominees in the April 30 primaries. The general election will be held June 25.

    JIM O’SULLIVAN

    Markey maintaining his lead over Lynch in new WBUR poll

    US Representative Edward J. Markey is leading the race for the Democratic Senate nomination while former US attorney Michael J. Sullivan is ahead in the battle for the GOP nomination, according to a new WBUR poll released Tuesday.

    But many respondents said they are undecided or have never heard of the candidates, indicating that the race remains ­fluid a little more than a month before the April 30 primaries.

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    Markey, a Malden Democrat heavily backed by the national Democratic establishment, leads his rival, US Representative Stephen F. Lynch of South Boston, by 11 percentage points among likely Democratic voters, 35 percent to 24 percent, according to the poll.

    But about 30 percent of those surveyed said they have never heard of or are undecided about both candidates.

    Respondents said they had a more favorable view of Lynch than Markey. Either one would hold a lead of at least 17 percentage points over any of the GOP candidates in a hypothetical general-election match-up.

    On the Republican side, ­Sullivan leads with support from 28 percent of respondents who are likely voters, compared to 10 percent for state Representative Daniel B. Winslow, and 8 percent for Gabriel E. Gomez, a private equity investor and onetime Navy SEAL.

    Even more respondents — between 30 and 36 percent, depend­ing on the candidate — said they had never heard of or were undecided about the GOP candidates.

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    The live telephone survey of 610 likely voters was conducted between March 19 and 21 by the MassINC Polling Group and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.1 percentage points.

    MICHAEL LEVENSON