The two US Senate candidates, Democrat Edward J. Markey and Republican Gabriel Gomez, have so far agreed to only one debate — a June 5 showdown sponsored by WBZ-TV and The Boston Globe. Given the fast-approaching election day, June 25, more encounters are needed, and both sides need to work harder to make them happen.
Whether from voter fatigue or boredom with the choices, the public has barely tuned into this special election campaign. But the stakes are high, and the candidates have yet to engage each other on the major issues. Playing to various constituencies (as Markey has sought to do) and projecting a youthful, turn-the-page image (as Gomez has sought to do) are electoral strategies, not platforms.
After his primary victory, Gomez challenged Markey to three debates. Since then, each campaign has accused its rival of debate-dodging.
“We are committed to doing three debates,” said Andrew Zucker, a spokesman for Markey. The Markey camp contends its rival has been difficult to pin down on “how and when and where.” On Wednesday, Gomez spokesman Will Ritter said the Republican candidate has gone directly to sponsors and confirmed his willingness to participate in three more debates: a June 11 event organized by a Western Massachusetts media consortium; a June 18 contest organized by a Boston media consortium; and a June 19 appearance sponsored by the South Coast Alliance. According to Ritter, Gomez is willing to show up for those debates whether or not Markey agrees to participate.
Maybe one is holding out, and the other is bluffing. But the games should end, and Markey and Gomez should just get the debate issue resolved.