BOSTON — Is serving three decades in Congress a sign of positive experience, or is it too long?
Will a military and business background translate well to public service in a U.S. Senate seat, or will a political newcomer on Capitol Hill face too much of a learning curve?
Those are just a few of the questions voters around Cape Ann and across Massachusetts will have to weigh Tuesday when they go to the polls to choose a new U.S. senator in the state’s second special Senate election in a little over three years.
Waiting for their answers will be 36-year Democratic Congressman Ed Markey of Malden, and Republican Garbiel Gomez, a Cohasset businessman and former Navy SEAL who is battling Markey for the seat held by John Kerry before he took on the job of serving as Secretary of State.
On the campaign trail, Markey has tried to take Gomez’s chief criticism of him — that he’s an entrenched Washington insider — and turn it on its head.
Markey has argued that, while he may not be the freshest face in Massachusetts politics, he’s served long enough in the U.S. House to know the ins and outs of Washington and can use that to the state’s advantage.
When Gomez tried to portray Markey’s tenure in the House as ineffective during their first debate, he charged that Markey hadn’t authored any laws in the past two decades. Markey, 66, quickly ticked off bills he’d worked on that were signed into law, including legislation to help those with diseases such as Parkinson’s stay at home and another designed to find a path for a cure for Alzheimer’s disease.
“That’s now the law. That’s my bill,” Markey said, adding that he also “passed a bill that created an on-ramp to the wireless world for the deaf and the blind in our country. And why did I do that? I did it because of the Perkins School for the Blind.”