The Haitian music was loud and the bass was heavy on Blue Hill Avenue in Mattapan when US Senate hopeful Edward J. Markey began to dance. Smiling broadly next to state Representative Linda Dorcena Forry, he began with a slight shuffle and then moved his whole body to the beat.
Hours before Markey marched in the 13th annual Haitian-American Unity Parade early Sunday afternoon, Gabriel E. Gomez, the Republican nominee for US Senate, walked along the water at a regatta on Lake Quinsigamond in Worcester. A former Navy SEAL, Gomez amiably chatted up members of the rowing team from the US Naval Academy.
The two candidates hit the campaign trail Sunday, a little more than a month before the June 25 special election.
Both said Sunday they would participate in a WBZ/Boston Globe debate on June 5, as each campaign lobbed accusations of debate-ducking at the other.
The Markey campaign sent out a press release Saturday saying the Democratic congressman had agreed to the June 5 forum after Gomez’s campaign had refused to sit down to negotiate a debate schedule.
Gomez, in Worcester, said he had agreed to the WBZ/Boston Globe debate and would “absolutely” be there. “It’s about time [Markey] accepted the Boston Globe debate,” he said.
He added that he hoped to have “at least two more” debates, “the minimum the people of Massachusetts deserve.”
Markey, in a short interview along the parade route, confirmed he would participate in the June 5 debate, but would not say definitively if he would agree to two more. “We’re trying to negotiate with [Gomez]. He has not called us back in two weeks,” Markey said.
Later, the parade underway, Dorcena Forry was greeted enthusiastically on block after block. A Haitian-American who recently won the Democratic nomination for the First Suffolk state Senate seat and the heavy favorite in a May 28 special election, she was clearly the star attraction. Cries of “Linda!” greeted her all along Blue Hill Avenue.
As she worked the crowd along the side of the road, Dorcena Forry encouraged each person to vote for Markey in June. Both shook hands and posed for photos with supporters so often, they repeatedly fell behind their group of sign-wielding supporters.
Markey, wearing a blue suit, white shirt, and no tie, appeared comfortable as he walked, shaking hands and waving. He was relaxed enough that he twice began dancing to Haitian music along the route. But in remarks at the beginning and end of the parade, the longtime congressman appeared a bit stiffer.
In interviews, a half-dozen parade watchers said they would support both Dorcena Forry and Markey.
Hours earlier and about 40 miles west, Gomez made his pitch at a different venue.
After finishing a 5-kilometer run Sunday morning, Gomez arrived at the Eastern Sprints, a collegiate regatta in Worcester with teams from universities up and down the Eastern Seaboard participating.
Among the few Massachusetts voters Gomez chatted with over the hour he spent at the event was Gregg Stone of Newton. Stone said he was an independent who had voted for Barack Obama in 2008 and was voting for Gomez in June.
“We definitely need fresh ideas down there,” he said.
Soon after, Gomez headed for the Wellesley Veterans’ Parade.