US Senate candidate Markey tours New Bedford, fields complaints for not visiting more often

NEW BEDFORD—Democratic US Senate candidate Edward J. Markey greeted voters in New Bedford Thursday, shaking hands with patrons in downtown restaurants with Mayor Jon Mitchell, but fielding some criticism for not having visited more often.

“He hasn’t campaigned on the whole South Coast,” Jo-Ann Ferreira complained. Ferreira is a Democrat who is supporting Markey nonetheless. Having heard that Markey was coming on Thursday, she came to City Hall to ask him questions but she couldn’t stay; he was running too late.

“I think he thinks it’s a given that people will vote for him. He’s not generating enough confidence in the people of the South Coast area,” said Ferreira. “We need to hear him speaking to us. We need to hear it from him.”

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Markey has been criticized for not making many campaign stops along the trail elsewhere, as well. The Globe reported on Wednesday that he had no scheduled public appearances that day, only six days before the hotly contested Senate election. Later in the day, his campaign announced he would shake hands with commuters at a T stop.

He had already fielded criticism in New Bedford; the mayor endorsed Markey on Sunday at a campaign event that Markey didn’t attend.

And on Wednesday, Markey did not accept an invitation from the South Coast Alliance the debate at UMass Dartmouth and let Republican Gabriel E. Gomez have the conversation to himself.

But Markey and his allies said Thursday that he has been to New Bedford several times, including three stops during the primary campaign and a tour of a city wind turbine production facility on Cinco de Mayo, when he came to the community festival.

“I’ve been here over and over again, campaigning in New Bedford,” Markey said.

Inside the No Problemo Taqueria, diner Jeanie Catz reached out to the Congressman, telling him how excited she was to see him there. “Facebook is my friend,” she told Markey, pledging to get her friends out to vote for him on Tuesday.

Inside Freestone’s City Bar and Grille, Markey found Deborah and Peter Bradley, supporters from Springfield who were visiting New Bedford to see the Whaling Museum. “We’ll be at the polls on June the 25th,” Peter Bradley pledged.

Earlier in the day, Markey held a press conference in a newly opened Canton campaign office, where he announced he has been endorsed by the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.

In a statement, Brady campaign president Dan Gross called Markey, “a champion in the fight to prevent gun violence.”

Markey called his support for an assault weapons ban a “huge dividing line” between him and Gomez, who opposes it.

“There is no place where a civilian needs a weapon that can shoot 100 bullets in under two minutes,” Markey said. “Massachusetts needs a senator who is going to go down to fight for Massachusetts citizens to fight as a leaders on gun control.”

He said he would propose legislation to ban future sales of assault weapons, rather than outlawing existing weapons.

In Canton, Markey was joined by Norfolk County Sheriff Michael G. Bellotti and Sue Leahy, a former first-grade teacher in Billerica and union leader who teared up when she spoke of the shootings in an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut.