Ed Markey, Gabriel Gomez to meet tonight in Springfield debate

It’s the Struggle of Springfield, the War for the West, the Battle in the Birthplace of Basketball.

When Republican Gabriel E. Gomez and Democrat Edward J. Markey face off tonight in the second debate of their US Senate campaign, much of the focus—both discussion topics and audience demographics—will lie in the western part of the state.

The further west you go on the Massachusetts Turnpike, the more the state’s Boston-centric political structure’s attention tends to dissipate.

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But tonight, exactly two weeks before voters choose a successor to John F. Kerry, Gomez and Markey will have to compete for those votes. Expect questions, and answers, on broadband access, economic development, unemployment in Holyoke and Springfield.

The debate will be broadcast from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. on WGBY-TV, CBS 3 Springfield, ABC-40/FOX-6 and NBC-22, and air on New England Public Radio, 88.5 FM. MassLive.com will livestream the debate.

With 14 days until the June 25 special election, polls show that Gomez has ground to make up on Markey, but that the veteran congressman has been unable to close the door on the political neophyte.

Two polls released on Tuesday showed Markey with a seven-point lead over Gomez, a constriction of his lead from earlier public polls. Gomez has hammered Markey for his 37-year tenure in Congress, while Markey has worked to link Gomez to national Republicans.

On Wednesday, President Obama is scheduled to campaign for Markey in Boston.