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Republican Gabriel Gomez, left, and Democrat U.S. Rep. Ed Markey, candidates for U.S. Senate in the June 24, 2013 special election, being held to fill the seat vacated when John Kerry was appointed as secretary of state. (AP)
Republican Gabriel Gomez, left, and Democrat U.S. Rep. Ed Markey, candidates for U.S. Senate in the June 24, 2013 special election, being held to fill the seat vacated when John Kerry was appointed as secretary of state. (AP)

Three weeks from today, we will finally know who will fill John Kerry's vacated Massachusetts seat in the U.S. Senate. The candidates face-off in their first debate tonight, and the sparks are expected to fly on everything from gun control to the federal deficit.

Guests

Susan Tracy, former Democratic State Representative and current president of The Strategy Group.

Rob Gray, founder and president of Gray Media.

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WBUR, "The New England College poll suggests Gomez’s latest push — on deficit spending and tax cuts — could get some traction.The survey asked voters to name their most important issue from a list of seven. Some 23 percent chose the federal deficit — ranking second on the list — and 17 percent picked holding down taxes — ranking third. And voters who chose those issues overwhelmingly favored Gomez. But the top-ranked concern was 'lowering unemployment,' picked by 25 percent of respondents. And those voters backed Markey by a 72-12 margin."

WBUR, "In a way, this U.S. Senate race is replaying some of the themes of the last one. Elizabeth Warren won in part because she successfully undercut Scott Brown’s appeal as an independent Republican. She did it by tying him to Mitch McConnell. Markey is reviving the strategy in the hope that it will appeal to Massachusetts voters once again."

New England College, "According to the NEC poll, Ed Markey has 75% support from fellow democrats; Gabriel Gomez currently holds 76% of GOP voter support.  Gomez slightly leads Markey among independent voters, 47%-44%."

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