BOSTON — Republican U.S. Sen. Scott Brown and his Democratic challenger, Elizabeth Warren, are set to square off for their third debate in the Massachusetts U.S. Senate race.
The debate is scheduled for Wednesday night at Springfield Symphony Hall. It’s the only debate in the western part of the state. The debate will also air live on 90.9 WBUR-FM, beginning at 7 p.m.
The face-off comes a day after Brown received the endorsement of Republican former New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman and Warren met with construction workers at a Boston work site.
The debate follows recent polls that have shown a tight race, including a WBUR poll that shows Brown leading Warren, 47 to 43 percent.
Tufts University political science professor Jeff Berry described the race in an interview Wednesday on WBUR’s Morning Edition as “dead even.”
“What we’re down to is a race that’s gonna be about turnout,” Berry said. “Both Brown and Warren tonight are gonna want to motivate their voters.”
To draw support, Berry thinks Brown will avoid the issue of Warren’s Native American heritage — according to Berry, pushing the issue makes Brown “look like a bully” — though that doesn’t mean he’ll back off her past entirely.
“[Brown] scored points on [Warren’s] work for insurance companies, making her look like just another lawyer or politician who’s willing to work for either side, whoever’s willing to pay her,” Berry said.
Berry believes Warren will counter by bringing the Senate election to a level of national importance, noting that this seat may decide which party controls the Senate. As a result, Berry predicts Warren will attack Brown’s claims of bipartisanship.
“She has to keep hammering home on that and try to poke a hole in his argument that he’s bipartisan,” Berry said. “And that helps by saying ‘Look, he votes occasionally with the Democrats, but really, overall, he votes for the Republicans and that leads to gridlock.’ ”
Jobs will likely be a big ticket item at the debate, and Berry believes Warren will stick to supporting small business whereas Brown will oppose the Obama administration’s tax increases.
According to Berry, Warren’s small business position is in need of some specifics to keep her platform from looking like “something of a platitude.”
Brown and Warren are not the only candidates debating Wednesday. In Duxbury, 9th Congressional District Democratic Rep. William Keating will debate two challengers: Republican Christopher Sheldon and independent Daniel Botelho.
In the 3rd district, Democratic Rep. Niki Tsongas faces off against Republican Jon Golnik. There are also debates Wednesday in the 4th district between Democrat Joseph Kennedy III and Republican Sean Bielat and in the 6th district between Rep. John Tierney, Republican Richard Tisei and Libertarian Dan Fishman.
With reporting by the Associated Press and the WBUR Newsroom