Republican Senate candidate Kevin O'Connor, describing himself as the "common sense candidate," challenged U.S. Sen. Edward Markey on Monday to debate him seven times between now and the Nov. 3 election, and said he'd even agree to make one of those debates a full-hour focused on Markey's signature issue -- climate change.

O'Connor made his pitch outside the Malden Public Library where Markey held a victory party the night of his primary victory over Congressman Joseph Kennedy III. The Republican attributed Markey's primary win, in part, to the senator's ability to talk to voters over the course of seven Democratic primary debates, and said he deserves the same opportunity.

"Senator Markey and I, as everyone knows, have substantive disagreements and we live at a time of crisis. We deserve from our leaders, at a minimum, transparency and responsible dialogue. Senator Markey has that opportunity in this election and he has that obligation to the people of Massachusetts and the taxpayers of Massachusetts," O'Connor said. "Is he afraid of me. Why is he avoiding debates?" O'Connor asked.

Markey's campaign could not immediately be reached for comment, but the public radio and television station GBH last Friday announced that it would be hosting an hour-long general election debate on Oct. 5, moderated by Jim Braude and Margery Eagan.

Markey's campaign manager John Walsh issued a statement after GBH announce its debate, calling it the "final" debate of the election, and stating that Markey "always debates his opponents."

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"The GBH debate — to be simulcast on PBS and NPR outlets across the state — will highlight the stark differences between Senator Markey and Republican Kevin O'Connor, who strongly supports Donald Trump and also denies the urgent need for a Green New Deal to save our planet," Walsh said. "After participating in seven high-profile debates during which he discussed his record of leading and delivering for the people of Massachusetts, Senator Markey looks forward to this final debate of the race with his Republican opponent."

Seven debates between now and Nov. 3 would mean putting Markey and O'Connor on stage together at least once a week beginning this week. O'Connor said he would be happy to make one of the seven debates exclusively about the Green New Deal, a Congressional resolution sponsored by Ocasio-Cortez and Markey laying out a sweeping approach to fighting climate change.

"I agree that our environment and a safe climate is absolutely critical and I will give him free media on his biggest issue and will demonstrate to the people of Massachusetts that that plan is not a plan. It's a terrible idea that would involve massive tax increases," O'Connor said.

- Matt Murphy/SHNS


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