Steve Lynch, Ed Markey duel in Senate debate at UMass-Lowell
8:19 p.m. -- In closing remarks, both Steve Lynch and Ed Markey go heavily autobiographical. Markey calls for a safer and cleaner 21st century. Lynch cites his upbringing in public housing, gets off a memorable line: “I’m not saying that every US senator should have worked for a living.”
8:14 p.m. -- A student question about drones prompts Steve Lynch to give a less-than-full-throated backing of the Obama administration’s use of drones. “What we’ve done here is, by incautious use of drones, we’ve really hurt ourselves, hurt our standing in many ways,” Lynch says, pointing to his combat-theater trips. But, he says, the US sometimes faces “limited choices.” Ed Markey says he was “glad” that Sen. Rand Paul filibustered over drones. “It’s a good way to use the filibuster in the Senate,” Markey says.
8:10 p.m. -- Steve Lynch acknowledges he struggled with his student loans, says he’s worked to help make college payments easier. Ed Markey sides with Lynch on lower interest rates, and says he likes the idea of linking stabilized tuition with how much federal assistance schools receive.
8:08 p.m. -- Two areas of potential cooperation with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell? Ed Markey names broadband access and veterans’ issues. Steve Lynch cites his work on the Veterans Affairs Committee, then suggest perhaps transportation issues, but admits not being sure what McConnell has planned. “I went through my checklist and there’s not a lot there that I agree with him on,” Lynch said.
8:05 p.m. -- After a slightly wandering answer to a question about sequestration, Ed Markey gets heat from moderator Jaclyn Cashman, and calls for “dramatically increasing” funding for the National Institutes of Health, which he has labeled the National Institutes of “Hope.” Steve Lynch tries to position himself with President Obama on sequestration, pointing out that the massive budget cuts were intended to act as a leverage point toward a grand bargain-style agreement on long-term deficit reduction. Asked if he regretted his vote, Lynch says the other option would have been defaulting on over $16 trillion in debt.
8:00 p.m. -- Neither Ed Markey nor Steve Lynch appears thoroughly briefed for a seemingly tangential question about a Twitter account that shows pictures of inebriated college students. Let’s move on.
7:58 p.m. -- Is Ed Markey insulted about being tabbed for the time he spends in Chevy Chase, Maryland? Markey ducks a little, but says he knows that his constituents know he is “one of them” and says he lives in Malden. Steve Lynch declines to pile on.
7:56 p.m. -- Moderator Jaclyn Cashman challenges Steve Lynch on his state legislature votes on gay rights. Lynch stammers a bit before pointing to his work on behalf of gay couples while serving on a House committee on federal employees.
7:54 p.m. -- Third student question asks hypothetical about support for a constitutional amendment declaring same-sex marriage legal. Third one in a row that puts to Lynch a question about a policy stance he’s struggled with in the past. Ed Markey says he would prefer the Supreme Court to rule on same-sex marriage, but that he would vote for the amendment. Steve Lynch says he is “basically in agreement with that” and calls himself “a supporter of equal marriage.”
7:50 p.m. -- Ed Markey says “there was no single moment” when he switched from pro-life to pro-choice. Steve Lynch says a woman on a military base should leave the base and return home, “not being ruled over by a male superior officer that may have other interests as well.”
7:48 p.m. -- Second student question goes to Steve Lynch over his abortion position. Two debates in a row, Lynch gets back-to-back questions on health care and abortion. Lynch returns to his well-trod defense that he took the floor to defend Planned Parenthood funding. Ed Markey hits familiar ground, too, knocking Lynch’s vote for the “Stupak amendment,” which would have blocked federal funds for abortion.
7:44 p.m. -- First student question is on elements of the Affordable Care Act with which to quibble. Ed Markey, going first, says the medical device tax “could be looked at.” Lynch, noting that he’s trailing Markey in speaking time, then holds aloft two health care bills, one he voted for and one he opposed. The one he opposed, he said, allows insurance companies to keep anti-trust exemptions. The other, which he backed, stripped those away, Lynch said. The point: a complicated set of votes needs a visual prop. Lynch pushes for equal time after moderator Jaclyn Cashman tries to get in. Appears determined to have his full say about a controversial vote. Markey then looks to argue over who’s had more time.
7:40 p.m. -- Asked how he squares having a big backer, Boston public affairs specialist Larry Rasky, working in favor of the pipeline, Ed Markey reiterates his opposition to the Keystone pipeline, and says it’s OK if his supporters differ with him.
7:37 p.m. -- Steve Lynch criticizes federal vetting of the Keystone project, asking for an up-down verdict. Ed Markey says he disavowed outside spending hitting Lynch for the latter’s support for the project, then pivots back to zinging Republicans.
7:35 p.m. -- In response to a question about whether outside groups have rendered irrelevant a pledge both candidates took to frustrate outside spending, Steve Lynch says a firefighters union is “trying to portray a positive reflection of my candidacy,” and says the pledge has fared well. Ed Markey joins Lynch in a shout-out to the UMass-Lowell River Hawks, headed to the Frozen Four. Markey then whacks Republican candidates for allowing “undisclosed, unlimited amounts of money.” In the follow-up, Lynch likens a California billionaire hitting him over support for a Keystone pipeline to the type of outside Republican spending that generally riles the left. “Just because he has a billion dollars doesn’t mean he gets to push people around.” says Lynch.
7:31 p.m. -- Each candidate has one minute to respond to each question, with one-minute closing statements. A student panel has devised questions ahead of time, says moderator Jaclyn Cashman.
7:27 p.m. -- With Steve Lynch and Ed Markey seated, their old delegation-mate, UMass-Lowell chancellor Marty Meehan calls the debate a way to engage the student body. “There have been a lot of them lately,” Meehan says of elections.
7:25 p.m. -- Moderator Jaclyn Cashman has taken the stage and prepped the crowd, at UMass-Lowell, with Steve Lynch and Ed Markey due onstage shortly.
Steve Lynch and Ed Markey, the two House Democrats jockeying for the US Senate nomination, are slated to square off tonight in Lowell for their second televised debate.
Lynch and Markey last tangled onstage at a March 27 debate that touched on free trade, health care, abortion, and the Wall Street bailout. The debate saw Lynch pressed on topics where he has been hit from the left, but also allowed the South Boston congressman to flesh out a populist line of attack against Markey.
Lynch has come under fire from a California billionaire over his backing of the controversial Keystone pipeline project. Markey has faced questions over whether he violated ethics rules in the production of campaign ads.
The UMass-Lowell/Boston Herald debate is set to start at 7:30 p.m.Jim O’Sullivan can be reached at James.OSullivan@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JOSreports.