BOSTON (CBS) – As I was saying, there’s nothing as informative in a political campaign as a lively debate, and last night’s showdown between Senate candidates Gabriel Gomez and Ed Markey certainly fit the bill.
Let’s start with the good news for both men. They came in with clear game plans, positive talking points about themselves and attack points on their opponent, and they delivered them, early and often.

I think I have this straight – Gabriel Gomez is a straight-shooting, bi-partisan, independent moderate who understands business (his version) and/or a duplicitous, uncaring tool of backward right-wingers (Markey’s version.) Markey is equally complex, a combination of statesmanlike defender of the people (in his telling) and ancient hack (Gomez’s version).

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The candidates did a good enough job of selling these messages to think they’ll stick with the partisans in the audience.

But what about the independents who, if they get motivated to show up on June 25th in numbers, could decide the election?

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Maybe some of them who value what government spending means to our economy saw the Markey experience that Gomez derides as a plus. And maybe some of those same voters so skeptical of excessive government control choked on Markey’s reflexive defense of Obamacare.

Maybe some independents share Gomez’s contempt for DC gridlock, but shrink at his willingness to get us more involved in Syria.

This won’t be an easy call for non-partisans in the center.

All the more reason to watch the next two debates, too.

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Jon Keller