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Campaign round-up: Markey vs. Gomez

Endorsements, tax returns, fundraisers and name-calling -- this week has no doubt been active in the Ed Markey (D) vs. Gabriel Gomez (R) special election to fill Secretary of State John Kerry’s Senate seat in Massachusetts, which takes place on June 25. 

Before Michelle Obama’s fundraiser on Wednesday for Markey, plus Markey’s suggestion he could have given more to charity over the years, here’s what you may have missed this past week in the race.

Attack mode
Where to begin? Tuesday, May 28: Gomez’s campaign issues a press release charging that Markey has voted for higher taxes almost 300 times. The campaign cites the Democrat’s votes to increase the federal gas tax in 1993 and to keep the popular child tax credit from doubling in 2001 and keep it temporary in 2004 (among others).

The latest line of argument comes as Gomez seeks to push the narrative of his private-sector record.

“Ed Markey is doing things the old way, trying to run the economy from the top-down in Washington because he’s never had a real job in the real world,” Gomez said in the release. “We need a fresh, new approach. It’s time to grow the economy from the bottom-up.”

Wednesday, May 29: Markey responds with his own tax policy TV ad. “Gomez thinks the rich already pay enough,” a narrator says in the ad. “He refuses to ask millionaires – like himself – to pay their fair share.”

Last Tuesday, the Gomez campaign continued a similar push with its own TV ad aimed to cast Markey as spoiled by Washington, a dirty politician.

Enter “pond scum.”

The spot starts out challenging the Markey campaign for its recent pieces that split-screen Gomez and Osama bin Laden and that argue that Gomez is against banning the weapons and high-capacity magazines used in Newtown. (The bin Laden image was in reference to Gomez’s involvement with a conservative Super PAC that criticized the way Obama handled information about bin Laden’s death.)

“Thirty-seven years in Congress, dirty Ed Markey,” a narrator said in the Gomez ad.

Gomez himself followed up, telling a reporter, “For him [Markey] to be as dirty and low, pond scum, to put me up there next to bin Laden, he’s just got to be called what he is.”

Just as in the tax debate, the Republican candidate focused on his outside-the-Beltway background -- including his Navy career and time at Advent International -- as a resume point for the job of “cleaning up Washington.”

Heavyweight Dems endorse
Tuesday, May 28: Markey picks up the endorsement of President Barack Obama. The support is no big surprise in deep-blue Massachusetts – and it may not matter. Obama also endorsed Martha Coakley in the 2010 special election, which the attorney general ultimately lost to Scott Brown.

Friday, May 24: Boston Mayor Tom Menino endorsed Markey as well, according to a press release.

Addressing women
Thursday, May 23: Markey’s Senate campaign, in a new Web video, makes good on its early promise to go after opponent Gomez on women’s issues, hitting him on contraception. The spot focuses on Gomez’s comment to the Boston Globe and, a week later, the New England Cable News, that he does not know the details of the failed Blunt Amendment, so, in turn, does not want to take a position.

The amendment, if passed, would have allowed any employer -- religiously affiliated or not -- to opt out of the federal health-care law’s requirement to pay for employees’ birth control because of moral reasons. Scott Brown voted for Blunt before losing re-election to Elizabeth Warren -- hence, the measure’s continued play post-mortem.

When asked whether he would have cast the same way to expand the conscience exemption, last week, Gomez said, “Contraception, you should take the politics out of it. That’s the problem that all of this should be taken out of it. Contraception should be available over the counter.”

On abortion, Gomez makes clear on his campaign website that he is “pro-life,” but he adds that Roe v. Wade is “settled.”

“Gabriel Gomez is a pro-life Republican who can’t be trusted to protect a woman’s right to choose, and his weeks-long refusal to even learn about the eight-page Blunt Amendment that would restrict women’s access to contraception should give women across the Commonwealth great concern,” said Markey campaign spokesman Andrew Zucker.

Tax time
Friday, May 24: Per an analysis by the Boston Globe, Markey released tax returns for the past eight years showing that he paid a rate of less than 20 percent due to large deductions, including those for his mortgage and travel expenses.

According to the federal and state returns, the congressman earned an annual paycheck ranging from $140,000 to just more than $160,000 since 2005. His itemized deductions fell between $38,000 and $50,000 per year and, according to the campaign, were calculated using the alternative minimum tax provision.

The Gomez campaign had been calling on Markey to release his returns for more than a week. Upon releasing his, the Republican came under attack for an obscure $280,000 break he took for promising not to make changes to the façade of his historic home, changes already prevented by local bylaws.

Wednesday, May 29: Markey tells the Associated Press that he “probably could have done better” with charitable donations, after the returns show an average of about $2,300 per year.