Democratic U.S. Senate candidates face off in Western MA debate - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Democratic U.S. Senate candidates face off in Western MA debate

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The two Democratic U.S. Senate candidates, Reps. Ed Markey and Stephen Lynch, faced off in Springfield Tuesday night exactly one week from the primary election.

There were tense moments as Lynch and Markey butted heads several times, disagreeing over issues like foreign policy and the bail out of banks and the auto industry.

"I don't want to call you a liar, but you are," Lynch said at one point.

"You might want to create your own facts here, but you can't create your own truth," Markey fired back moments later.

Political reporter for Masslive and The Republican Rob Rizzuto says that tensions could still be high between the candidates from a heated debate Monday night.

"They came right out of the gate in fierce mode, and that could have been residual from last night," Rizzuto said.

The two mostly agreed on issues like national security and steps the federal government is taking against threats from North Korea.

But the top concern among Western Mass voters according to a Western New England University poll is unemployment.

Lynch blames much of that on the North American Free Trade Agreement that was passed in 1994 and made it cheaper for companies to move industry to foreign countries.

He says he wants NAFTA repealed to bring industry back to Western Mass.

"We've basically eroded the manufacturing base in Central and Western Mass, and a lot of those jobs have gone to Mexico and to foreign countries," Lynch said after the debate.

Markey says completing a high-speed rail between Springfield and Boston will be a job creator as well as investing in broadband infrastructure.

"We just have to have a broad-based strategy to insure that we are investing in the future of Western Massachusetts," Markey said after the debate.

Western New England University's poll showed Markey holding a 10-point lead above Lynch, but Rizzuto says it could still be a toss-up.

"Anything can happen on primary day next Tuesday, that's for sure," he said.

There are also three Republican candidates running. The primary will be on April 30 with the special election on June 25.

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