With next week’s primary election looming, Massachusetts politicians vying to fill the state’s open U.S. Senate seat found themselves grappling with an uncomfortable question this week: how soon is too soon to get back on the campaign trail after a devastating tragedy?
“It’s a very awkward feeling,” U.S. Rep. Stephen F. Lynch of South Boston told reporters after a debate Monday night, referring to his decision to resume his senatorial campaign just days after the Boston Marathon bombings. “But we’ve got an election in seven days so we’ve got no choice.”
Lynch and his competitors all immediately suspended their campaigns out of respect for the victims of the April 15 bombings. With little time left to sell their message to voters, they are now returning their full energies to their campaigns after staying off the trail for much of last week.
State Rep. Daniel B. Winslow, a Repubican from Norfolk who is running against two other Republicans in the GOP primary, told The Crimson that he chose to resume his campaign “out of respect for the democratic process and to say that we wouldn’t let the attackers undermine that process.”
But with the deadly attacks and their aftermath still on voters’ minds, candidates must walk a fine line in the final few days before the primary to avoid alienating voters.
U.S. Rep. Edward J. Markey of Malden, the frontrunner who is facing off against Lynch for the Democratic nod, said that going forward, the candidates will hold their tongues in order to uphold the close-knit feeling in the Boston community.
“We’re going to be as respectful as we possibly can in order to ensure that nothing that we do jars with the civility that people are going to expect over the next week in this campaign,” he said during the Monday debate.
But despite this promise, Markey and Lynch attacked each other’s voting records on homeland security issues during both Monday and Tuesday’s debates.
Lynch and Markey agreed, however, that strict national security policies are necessary to prevent such an event from occurring again.
Lynch said that after a traumatic incident, Bostonians look to the government for “that basic level of protection.”
Candidates vying to replace longtime Boston mayor Thomas M. Menino also suspended their political activities in the aftermath of the bombings. They too have since resumed their campaigns.
Though that election is not until November, the mayoral race had been heating up in the weeks leading up to the attacks. A handful of politicians had formally announced their candidacies in the weeks prior to the bombings, with several more said to be considering a run.
Community organizer Bill Walczak, another mayoral candidate, wrote in an email to The Crimson that he would refrain from prescribing policy in the wake of the tragedy.
“I will leave security proposals to the security experts,” Walczak said. “We need to trust those who do this for a living, especially as the investigation is ongoing.”
—Matthew Q. Clarida contributed to the reporting of this story.
—Staff writer Julia K. Dean can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @juliakdean.
—Staff writer Laura K. Reston can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @laurareston.
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
CORRECTION: April 26, 2013
An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated the context in which U.S. Rep. Stephen F. Lynch talked about his decision to resume his senatorial campaign just days after the Boston Marathon bombings. In fact, he made his remarks while speaking with reporters after a debate on Monday, not during the debate.
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