BOSTON — Democratic U.S. Senate hopefuls Edward Markey and Stephen Lynch clashed last night in their first debate since the Boston Marathon attacks.
Lynch began the debate by faulting Markey with not doing enough on security issues, including not voting for the Joint Terrorism Task Force, which combines the resources of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.
Markey responded by pointing to several measures he supported or authored that he said enhanced security, including the screening of air cargo for bombs and the screening of tankers coming into U.S. ports for nuclear materials.
Markey said he pushed for those measures over the objections of Republicans.
Asked whether the surviving suspect in the marathon bombings should be labeled an enemy combatant, Markey and Lynch both said they agreed with the decision of the Obama administration to try 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in federal court instead.
The candidates were also asked about the installation of more security cameras in urban areas and the possible effect that would have on privacy.
Markey said it was time to consider installing more security cameras, like the ones that helped the FBI in the investigation of the marathon bombing, in major urban areas like Boston.
“I do believe it is now time for us to consider more surveillance cameras. We see how helpful those surveillance cameras are,” Markey said.
But Lynch urged caution, saying cameras should only be used “in places where people would not otherwise expect a high level of privacy.”
While both candidates said they supported President Barack Obama’s gun control policies, Lynch said his own personal background could help persuade other U.S. senators to come around.
“I know what it’s like to have a family member killed by guns,” Lynch said, noting that his cousin was killed by gun violence.
Both candidates also lamented the U.S. Senate’s recent vote to reject gun control measures and said they’d push for tougher measures if the bill reaches the House.
The two also ramped up their rhetorical jabs during the debate, which came just eight days before the April 30 primary.
At one point Lynch accused Markey of not doing enough to help local fishermen, saying “I’m with the fishermen, you’re with the fish.”
Another time, Markey responded to a flurry of criticisms from Lynch by saying “Steve is putting so many red herrings out here we’re going to have to put out an aquarium.”
The debate came as a poll of 480 likely voters found that both Markey and Lynch hold double-digit leads over each of the three Republican candidates — former U.S. Attorney Michael Sullivan, Norfolk state Rep. Daniel Winslow and Cohasset businessman Gabriel Gomez.
Markey leads Gomez by 15 points, Sullivan by 18 points, and Winslow by 19 points while Lynch leads Gomez by 32 points, Sullivan by 32 points, and Winslow by 36 points according to the poll.
The debate took place at WBZ-TV.