BOSTON (CBS) – Tonight at 7, it’s debate time on WBZ-TV, WBZ NewsRadio 1030 and CBS, as the three Republicans running for U.S. Senate meet with less than three weeks to go until the primary.

And if you tune in, I’m pretty sure you’ll find it worth your time.

For starters, this race is a microcosm of an ongoing battle for the soul – or at least, control – of the local Republican Party.

Listen to Jon’s commentary:

During the 16-year run of GOP governors here from 1990 to 2006, we saw the dominance of the socially-liberal, fiscally-conservative Republican: Bill Weld, Paul Cellucci and Jane Swift were all pro-choice and pro-gay rights even as they fought for conservative economic principles such as lower taxes and freer markets.

Even Mitt Romney was relatively moderate on social issues when he ran in 2002.

Senate candidate Dan Winslow is in this mold. But he has had his hands full matching the grassroots energy of Michael Sullivan’s supporters, who tend to be anti-abortion and opposed to gay marriage, like their candidate. Gabriel Gomez seems to want to be the Scott Brown of the race, running as an independent on term limits and outsider antipathy towards big government.

Before The Debate: We Want Your Questions

A Sullivan win on April 30th would reflect the growing clout of the local party’s conservative wing.

A Winslow victory would restore some of the fading influence of Weldism.

And a Gomez upset would be quite an anti-establishment message from the GOP faithful.

But don’t take my word for any of this. Check them out yourselves tonight at 7.

And even if you’re sure you’re voting for the Democrat in June, no one can accuse you of not doing your due diligence.

You can listen to Keller At Large on WBZ News Radio every weekday at 7:55 a.m. You can also watch Jon on WBZ-TV News.


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