Gabriel E. Gomez sought to distance himself from the national Republican Party, using Tuesday’s second US Senate debate to embrace some key Democratic initiatives, but rival Edward J. Markey countered that, on too many issues, Gomez lines up with conservatives.
Gomez, as in the first debate, was the more aggressive of the two, turning nearly every question into an attack on Representative Markey and his nearly four decades in Washington. Markey, who is leading in the polls two weeks before the election, chose not to respond directly to most barbs, instead proclaiming his own Democratic bona fides.
The topics covered during the hourlong debate in Springfield focused on a range of serious policy questions, and there were few openly combative exchanges. The matchup did, however, illuminate several stark policy differences on issues including taxes, the environment, and restrictions on political spending.
Perhaps the most surprising moments came when Gomez unexpectedly announced his support for two Democratic bills, one that would raise the federal minimum wage to $10 an hour and another that would ensure pay equity for women in the workplace. He embraced the bills as he scrambled to push back against Markey’s attempts to paint him as too far to the right for Massachusetts.
“I think we should increase it to 10 dollars, but I think the problem is that you think that is what is going to satisfy people, and the reality is that people don’t want to just earn 10 dollars per hour,” Gomez said. “They want to have a chance at an American dream.”
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