Jeff Semon and Frank Addivinola both want to oust Rep. Ed Markey from his 5th Congressional District seat in Congress, which represents Melrose.
"He's been in office since the year I was born," said Semon, a Lexington resident, during a June 18 debate at the Trackside Grill in Ashland. The event was sponsored by the Ashland Republican Town Committee.
The winner of the Sept. 6 Republican primary will face Markey in November.
During the debate, the two Republicans took jabs at each other.
Semon questioned how Addivinola thinks he can win when he lost a state senate race in 2010. Addivinola questioned how long Semon has lived in Massachusetts and his business background. Semon also questioned whether Addivinola even lives in the 5th Congressional District.
While they disagreed on some issues, they were in agreement that the district needs a new voice - and a Republican voice. Markey, his policies and his lack of visibility in the district were discussed often.
Asked if Markey was in the room what would they ask him, the Republicans answered:
Addivinola: "Why don't you come to the district and spend time with the voters?"
Semon: "Are the people in your district better off than they were 36 years ago?"
Markey, who has been in office since 1976, has not really had a serious Republican challenger. One of his closest races was his recent 2010 race against Republican challenger Gerry Dembrowski. Markey won with 66 percent of the vote. Markey has been re-elected 16 times, and never with less than 60 percent of the district's votes.
That point was not lost on one of the panelists - talk show host Michael Graham of radio station WTKK, who asked both candidates how they think they could win as Republicans and how they plan to get their message across to voters, who have elected Markey year after year after year.
Watch the candidates' unedited responses in the videos attached to this report. (Also: the candidates' closing statements.)
“With the victory of Scott Brown in 2010, it’s clear that Republicans can and should win," said Semon
“It’s not easy to unseat an incumbent in Massachusetts but I’m prepared for the long fight," said Addivinola.
During most of the debate the two candidates agreed on issues:
Semon: "Need to re-evaluate our complete foreign policy from top to bottom ... we can't be the world's policeman."
Addivinola: "We need to re-evaluate ... we can't be the police for the world."
Taxes & Spending:
Semon: "Have to cut spending, period."
Addivinola: "We need to cut spending."
Semon: "We need serious tax reform ... the Democrats' view of tax reform is how much are we going to raise taxes."
Addivinola: Said the impact for businesses and taxpayers has to be predictable.
Asked if they consider themselves a Lincoln or a Jefferson Republican, both candidates aligned themselves with Thomas Jefferson.
Both candidates also stated they would only serve a total of eight years, if elected.
Both also said they would vote to rescind 'ObamaCare,' if elected.