BOSTON (AP) — Republican Gabriel Gomez and Democrat Edward Markey clashed on everything from Markey’s record in Congress to the private sector and term limits in the final and often testy debate of Massachusetts’ special U.S. Senate election.
Pressed to offer more information about clients he worked for at the private equity firm Advent International, Gomez pointed to President Barack Obama, saying Obama’s pension fund from his years as an Illinois lawmaker is invested in part with the company.
“You should ask President Obama if he is happy … with what we have done at Advent International,” Gomez said.
The White House did not immediately have a comment.
Markey said Gomez should release even more information about companies he worked with during his tenure at the firm.
“My vote record is completely transparent,” Markey said. “But with Mr. Gomez, we still don’t know who his clients are, who he worked for.”
Markey also defended his role in obtaining millions in tax dollars for a planned transformation of a polluted industrial site along the Malden River into a telecommunications center, with the promise of thousands of new jobs.
The hoped-for jobs never materialized, but Markey said the project was still a benefit to neighboring communities because it helped clean up a blighted area.
During a pointed exchange over term limits, Gomez said he told veteran Republican Sen. John McCain, who campaigned for Gomez in Boston last month, that he should leave the Senate at the end of his term.
“Mr. Gomez did not tell John McCain that this is his last term,” said Markey. “That did not happen.”
“It absolutely did happen,” said Gomez, who has proposed a two-term limit for members of the Senate and has pledged not to serve more than two full terms in Washington. He later told reporters that McCain had agreed with his call for term limits.
Markey after the debate said he was not accusing Gomez of lying about the exchange with McCain, but that he still had trouble believing that it had happened as Gomez explained.
During a segment of the debate in which the candidates were allowed to question each other, Gomez, who said Markey voted to raise taxes 300 times, asked Markey if he had ever opposed a tax supported by his party. Markey responded that he had voted to reduce taxes to middle class citizens by $1 trillion and opposed tax breaks for big business.
Gomez pointed to Markey’s past support for a tax on medical device companies that was included in Obama’s 2010 federal health care law.
Markey again brought up Gomez’s opposition to a federal ban on assault weapons and high-clip magazines, asking the Republican why an ordinary citizen would need to buy a gun that could shoot 100 rounds in two minutes.
Gomez did not respond directly to the question but pointed to his support for a bill that would broaden background checks, accusing Markey of misrepresenting his position and using the Newtown, Conn., school massacre for political gain.
“You will do anything and say anything to get elected,” Gomez said. “You’ve been doing that for 37 years.
Markey headed into the final stretch of the special election with more than a two-to-one fundraising advantage over Gomez.
Markey’s latest campaign finance report shows as of June 5 he had nearly $2.3 million to spend compared to just under $1 million for Gomez.
The special election to fill the Senate seat left vacant by the resignation of John Kerry to become secretary of state is June 25.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.