After an often listless warm-up, the main event in the race for John Kerry’s old Senate seat is finally underway. Earlier today, newly minted nominees Gabriel Gomez and Ed Markey traded sharp jabs – and made it clear that in this election, mutual respect will be in short supply.

Gabriel Gomez started his day at the Broadaway T stop in South Boston, greeting commuters whose responses ranged from apathy to delight.

"My name’s Gabriel," he said. "How you guys doin’?"

After wooing voters, the new Republican senate nominee worked the media – and took some shots at his opponent, Democrat Ed Markey. His central message? Markey is a dinosaur.

"You’ve got somebody here, who, literally, in 1976, was playing Little League baseball when Congressman Markey was first elected," Gomez said. "There can’t be a better poster boy for term limits than Congressman Markey."

And even though he called himself a “conservative Republican,” Gomez said that if he wins, he’d be able to work with Senate Democrats on a bevy of issues.

Gay marriage: "I don’t believe in any kind of discrimination," Gomez said. "I believe that if two people are in love, they should be able to get married.

On gun control: "I would have supported Sen. Toomey from Pennsylvania and Sen. Manchin from West Virginia. I think we need to close the gun-show loophole."

A few hours later, Ed Markey took the stage at a “unity breakfast” downtown. Flanked by his primary opponent, Steve Lynch, Markey stressed that their sometimes tense contest is over.

"This country would be far better off if there were many more Steven Lynches," Markey said to applause.

Then Markey turned to Gomez – saying he’s in lockstep with the national GOP.

"On Social Security and Medicare, Gabriel Gomez and the Republican Party, they’re willing to put it on the operating table, to cut it and cut it severely," Markey said.

That approach helped the Democrats oust Scott Brown last year. Whether it’ll be equally effective against Gomez remains to be seen.