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Markey, Lynch tangle in first televised debate

Stephen Lynch, left, and Edward Markey appeared in a televised debate that also featured the three GOP hopefuls earlier. The event was moderated by R.D. Sahl, right.

Steven Senne/Associated Press

Stephen Lynch, left, and Edward Markey appeared in a televised debate that also featured the three GOP hopefuls earlier. The event was moderated by R.D. Sahl, right.

US Representatives Edward J. Markey and Stephen F. Lynch tangled over Lynch’s vote against President Obama’s health care law in a televised debate tonight between the two contenders for the Democratic nomination in the special election race for US Senate.

Lynch said he didn’t vote for the bill because “it was a very flawed bill and we missed a real opportunity to create real health care reform.”

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Markey described his own vote for the Affordable Health Care Act as “the proudest vote of my career” and said, “Steve, when that vote came up, you were wrong.”

Lynch responded, “What we did there was wrong,” describing several flaws in the law and calling it a giveaway to health insurance companies.

Steven Senne/AP

Daniel Winslow, Michael Sullivan, and Gabriel Gomez are GOP candidates.

The half-hour debate between Markey and Lynch followed another half-hour debate that featured the Republican candidates, State Representative Daniel Winslow, former US attorney Michael J. Sullivan, and Gabriel Gomez, a private equity investor and former Navy SEAL.

Few sparks flew in the GOP debate. Gomez at one point, given a chance to direct a question at Winslow, used it instead to ask rhetorically whether Markey and Lynch would have voted for a budget recently passed by the Senate that sought to raise nearly $1 trillion in new tax revenue over the next 10 years.

“Do Congressman Markey and Congressman Lynch actually favor the budget that just came out of the Democratic Senate?” Gomez said.

Given his chance to speak, Winslow said, “Gabriel, I guarantee you that Steve Lynch and Ed Markey would have voted yes for a trillion-dollar tax increase. ... Any one of us is better than either one of them.”

The US Senate seat opened up because of John Kerry’s departure to be secretary of state. The primaries for each party are on April 30. The general election is slated for June 25.

The debate offered most voters their first chance to get a look at the contenders in action.

A WBUR-FM poll conducted last week found that Markey was leading Lynch in the race for the Democratic nod, while Sullivan led his two opponents in the Republican race. In the traditionally blue Bay State, both Markey and Lynch were seen as likely to beat any of the Republicans. Offering some hope to those behind, a large number of those polled said they were undecided or had never heard of the candidates.

Hosted by the Boston Media Consortium, it was broadcast and livestreamed on WCVB-TV.

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