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Democratic Primary Race Heats Up In Hunt For Vacant Senate Seat

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WBZ-TV's Bree Sison Bree Sison
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BOSTON (CBS) – Congressman Ed Markey has a long way to go in his hunt to fill John Kerry’s vacant Senate seat, but the Democratic hopeful is feeling confident after receiving the support of some key education groups.

“I’m really confident that Democrats are going to win this seat, and that I’m going to be the next Senator,” Markey told WBZ at a campaign stop in Lynn.

Markey and his challenger in the Democratic Primary, Congressman Stephen Lynch, spent the weekend building grassroots support.

Both candidates attended small gatherings across the state, trying to get their message out to voters.

“The enemy is time,” Lynch said in Attleboro.  “I only have 74 days before the primary so I’ve really got to get around to every town I can.”

Lynch seemed to recognize the uphill climb ahead of him.

Markey picked up a key endorsement this week from the Massachusetts Teachers Association and already has more money in his campaign coffers.

Markey also holds a narrow lead in a survey from MassInc and WBUR.  The poll – out this week – shows the nine-term congressman from Malden is beating Lynch by seven points among likely voters.

Much of Markey’s strength is within the Democratic party.  He holds a 17 point lead over Lynch among registered Democrats, an advantage that independents could overtake in the April 30th primary.

“My candidacy is to give the people of Massachusetts a choice.  A different choice,” Lynch told the Attleboro Democratic Caucus, drawing a contrast between his blue-collar roots and Markey’s lengthy career in the US House of Representatives by calling his opponent the establishment pick.

“The Democratic establishment in Washington tried to clear the field.  They did not want to have a Democratic primary,” said Lynch.  “If we let the folks in Washington pick our senators than they will do it every time.”

Markey touted his transportation accomplishments in Congress, taking credit for a new MBTA stop in Revere and saying he wants the Blue Line to come to Lynn.

In stump speeches, he emphasizes his positions on key Democratic issues like support for Medicare, the environment and public education.

Both Democrats have signed a pledge to limit outside spending in the campaign, saying special interest dollars have no place in the Bay State senate race.

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