With just a month and a half left until the general election, Republican Senate candidate Kevin O'Connor is calling for seven debates with Democratic incumbent Ed Markey — one more than Markey had with Joe Kennedy III during their hard-fought Democratic primary fight.
"Senator Markey and I, as everyone knows, have substantive disagreements, and we live at a time of crisis," O'Connor said. "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.”
At present, just one debate — hosted by GBH news on October 5 at 7 p.m. — is scheduled in the race.
During the Democratic primary contest, Markey debated Kennedy six times and conducted another debate with Shannon Liss-Riordan, who later dropped out of the race.
Speaking at the public library in Markey's hometown of Malden, where the senator and his supporters celebrated on primary night, O'Connor claimed Markey is "afraid to engage with me."
"I'm the common-sense candidate," O'Connor said. "I'm a father of four boys, I’m a dad, I'm a lawyer, I'm a business owner. And I'm fighting for the best interest of the people of Massachusetts — safe streets, good jobs, a free and strong America."
Markey's unwillingness to debate those topics on multiple occasions, O'Connor added, is "unworthy of his position and unworthy of the people of Massachusetts."
Asked about O'Connor's call for seven debates, Markey spokeswoman Liz Vlock responded: "Senator Ed Markey is looking forward to having a substantive debate with Kevin O'Connor on October 5."
In Malden, O’Connor said he’ll be casting a vote for President Donald Trump in November. He also acknowledged that he hasn’t always been a Republican, but added that his embrace of the party preceded his current run.
"The Democratic Party has gone from the party of JFK to the party of AOC," he said, referring to New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. "And I completely, fundamentally, to my core, disagree with the current mindset of the Democratic Party.”
Ocasio-Cortez wrote the so-called Green New Deal with Markey, and her support during the contest with Kennedy was widely seen a boost to Markey’s campaign.
The town clerk in Dover, where O'Connor lives, said he switched his party affiliation from unenrolled to Republican in July 2017, and switched from Democrat to unenrolled in April 2010.