Senate hopeful Edward J. Markey, who has faced scrutiny for his light schedule of public campaign appearances, has not cast a vote in Congress since May 9, missing the last 40 votes before the chamber, according to records from the Clerk of the House.
This week, Markey missed voting on 23 matters, including legislation to approve the construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, a project he has said he strongly opposes.
Markey also did not vote at all last week, when he had few public campaign events from Tuesday through Friday, the days the House voted. Despite being in Washington for two events on Wednesday of last week, he missed all 17 votes before the chamber that week.
Markey has called his vote in favor of President Obama’s health care legislation “the proudest vote of my career.” But among the votes he missed last week were ones relating to GOP legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
Sitting members of Congress often miss votes in the weeks before an election. What’s less typical is taking time away from Washington, but not packing a schedule with public campaign events back home.
Markey spokesman Mark Horan defended the congressman in a statement, saying he is campaigning hard, just not always in the public eye.
“With one month left before the Senate election, Ed Markey is vigorously working to get across his message of getting assault weapons off our streets, protecting Social Security, and creating a fairer tax system,” Horan said.
While Markey held a number of public campaign appearances throughout recent weekends, his weekday public campaign appearances have been more sparse. He did not hold any public weekday campaign events from last Monday through last Friday.
On Monday and Tuesday of this week, he held a public event each day, but the campaign did not publicize any appearances on Wednesday or Thursday.
Responding to questions about Markey’s limited public appearances, Horan sent a schedule of Markey’s behind-the-scenes campaigning over the last two weeks. The list included meetings with the firefighters union and police officers, along with several fund-raisers.
“Over the past week and a half, Ed Markey has held roughly 30 campaign or official events and meetings such as meeting with mayors from across the state, hearing from ministers in Dorchester, and campaigning with Massachusetts workers in the AFL-CIO,” Horan added.
But the campaign declined to release a complete list of those 30 events.
Among the votes Markey missed this week was one on the Stolen Valor Act, which amends the punishments for people who fraudulently claim to be the recipient of certain military awards and medals for their benefit.
That afternoon, Markey attended a public meet and greet with construction workers in Boston. Horan said that he also attended two events with local police officers.
On Tuesday, when the House unanimously passed the Improving Job Opportunities for Veterans Act, Markey attended a campaign event at the Roche Bros. grocery store in West Roxbury.
But a day later, when he missed a vote on the construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada, his campaign would only say that he was at a breakfast meeting with business leaders in Boston.
On Thursday, the House voted on issues related to federal student loans.
Horan said Markey was at an AFL-CIO event on Cape Cod and attended fund-raisers in the evening.
Gabriel E. Gomez, Markey’s Republican opponent, has criticized Markey for not being on the campaign trail more, accusing the congressman of “hiding.” Gomez, for his part, has made at least one public appearance each day since May 10, the day after Markey last voted.
Among his critics, Markey has been compared to state Attorney General Martha Coakley, who was criticized for resting on the laurels of her front-runner status and not working hard for the open Senate seat she lost to Republican Scott Brown in 2010.
Markey aides, however, insist Markey is working far more vigorously than Coakley, both in public and in private. They say he is piecing together critical ingredients for victory, including a strong statewide grass-roots field organization, a robust fund-raising operation and diverse groups of supporters who are expected to vote in the special election
Markey’s missed votes are unusual in the scope of his more than 36-year congressional tenure. His voting participation was at least 96 percent from 2001 through 2012, according to Congressional Quarterly. His campaign said he had a 96 percent lifetime voting record.
On Sunday, in a short interview with the Globe after he marched in a parade in Boston, Markey said he had been on the trail every day, with the exception of some time in Washington, D.C.
“I’ve been on the trail the whole way. I haven’t taken off a day since Dec. 27,” he said, pledging to campaign through the June 25 election.
“I’m going the whole 180 days out on the trail,” Markey said. “Haven’t stopped yet.”
Indeed, Thursday evening, Markey staff members announced what may be the campaign’s biggest event yet — and a reminder of the benefits Markey reaps as a Democrat in a blue state.
Markey will appear at a “major campaign announcement” featuring Mayor Thomas M. Menino of Boston.