As we continue to roll through the age of a political stranglehold fueled by the most polarized congress since the late 1800s, UMass Lowell will take center stage in the next chapter of congressional election.
On Monday night, the campus will play host to its second senatorial debate in the last year when Congressmen Ed Markey (7th district) and Stephen Lynch (8th district) pitch head-to-head for the Democratic nomination.
Republican hopefuls Gabriel Gomez, Michael Sullivan and Daniel Winslow have yet to respond to their invite. Should they accept, the trio of right-wingers would hold their own debate before the Democratic showdown.
The special election comes following the appointment of incumbent Senator John Kerry to Secretary of State. Kerry received the nomination from President Obama on December 21 and was confirmed on January 24, following his resignation from his senate seat.
Primaries for the two major parties will be held at the end of the month. A final vote on June 25 will send the state’s next senator down to Capitol Hill.
Coming in ahead in most polls is elder State Representative Ed Markey, the longest tenured congressman from the Bay State.
Markey is the classic blue-blooded old dog Massachusetts liberal. His outspoken support of party policy as well as aggressive opposition to their rivals has already cemented the Malden native as a leader within the Democratic Party.
Representing Markey’s inner-party opposition is the more moderately natured Stephen Lynch.
While adamant and firm in his uncompromising support of mainstream Liberal economic policies, Lynch has the reputation of being one of the most socially conservative Democrats on Capitol Hill.
Viewed by some to be a Massachusetts moderate in the same mold as recently uprooted Senator Scott Brown, Lynch actually falls opposite of Brown on the political spectrum. Brown often found himself on the fence or the left on social issues, while still holding to his conservative economic standards.
Lynch, on the other hand, has split from his party on several key social issues, including outspokenly pro-life. He was also strong supporter of military intervention in the Middle East during the Bush administration. However, despite having a history of opposition to gay rights early in his political career, Lynch has since worked with his party in their support, and voted down the Federal Marriage Amendment in 2006.
It will be an uphill battle for the South Boston native to convince Massachusetts Democrats, the most liberal of liberals, to give a socially conservative candidate the nod for the Democratic nomination.
And that’s where UMass Lowell comes in.
Markey’s the Democratic golden boy, already receiving key, high up endorsements from the party’s elite. He’s everything they want to stabilize the pure blue MA senatorial representation after the nearly four hectic years following the death of Ted Kennedy. He’ll look to snuff out his opponent’s chances quickly and convincingly to put some wind at the campaign’s back, heading down the straightaway with a furlong lead over the Republican challenger.
For Lynch, it’s a chance to go hard after Markey; not simply to convince, but to attack. He’ll need to be aggressive, and, more importantly, he’ll need to make a splash.
Polls indicate that the lack of general attention and knowledge about the special election could play a major role in the results. Having a spotlight on Monday night, no matter how minute it is, gives a politician like Lynch, who already sports a strong underbelly of working class voters, the chance to heighten his popularity and reputation in the quick surge before decision time.
Never mind the eventual sparring match between the Republicans and Democrats, even picking the kind of Democrat to join the Senate could create ripples in the decisions of social and economic policy.
Should Markey claim the seat, Obama and the Democrats have a key chip, a reliable proven force loyal to the Left.
With Lynch, it is the Republicans that could receive a favor, picking up a legitimately socially conservative Democrat who has never been afraid to split from his party – from a state that they can never expect to have in their pocket.
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