Terrorism Talk Has Livened Up the Massachusetts Senate Race

The Democrats fought over national security in a debate.


People seemed excited to see that Monday’s Democratic Senate primary debate got a little lively when discussion turned to national security, but not so excited to think it might actually change the outcome of next week’s primary.

While both Republican and Democratic candidates for Senate said they’d cool it with the political infighting in the wake of last Monday’s bombing, Rep. Stephen Lynch took the opportunity to bring up a few of Markey’s national security votes. Lynch hit Markey for a vote opposing the formation of the joint homeland security task force, which responded to Monday’s attacks. Markey defended that vote, saying he didn’t want to involve the military in domestic law enforcement, and said that he made other “no” votes because the bills in question didn’t go far enough. The Globe has a good writeup of the back and forth, and Blue Mass Group adds a little background on the votes in question.

Political watchers seem to agree that this is a welcome bit of drama in an otherwise dull race, but no one seems to think it’s coming in time to change the outcome significantly. Blue Mass Group notes that Markey has led Lynch by double digits in every poll run since the start of the race, and adds that Markey has way more cash on hand. Markey may have appeared “insufficiently prepared” to defend himself, but that doesn’t mean Lynch landed a punch that’s going to atrract the kind of attention that would reverse those polls or fundraising advantages.

But it does foreshadow a point of difference that might come up in the general election. If the polls are to be trusted, Markey will face former U.S. Attorney Michael Sullivan in the general election*. Sullivan made his name as a prosecutor in the era following the September 11 attacks so he has his own record on anti-terrorism efforts to dissect, defend, and possibly use to, like Lynch, paint Markey as “soft on terrorism.” The Boston Marathon bombings have brought national security to a race where it’d previously been a non-issue. Expect to hear more about it as the race goes on, both because the candidates will bring it up and because it might actually catch your attention.

WBZ has uploaded video of the debate, in case you missed it.

* We should have noted that while Sullivan led the first several polls in the race, Gabriel Gomez is leading in the most recent one from Western New England.