BOSTON (MyFoxBoston.com/AP) — Democratic U.S. Rep. Edward Markey won both the endorsement and the considerable political clout of Boston Mayor Thomas Menino during a no holds barred day on the campaign trail.
Menino, also a Democrat, made the endorsement official during a campaign event at a Boston union hall Friday.
Among other things, the mayor credited Markey for being out front on gun control and for securing federal funding for medical research institutions, a key part of the city's economy.
"What he does for his constituents is so, so important," Menino said. "He's there for us all the time."
Markey said he was honored by the endorsement.
The Democrat, who was first elected to the House in 1976, has been criticized by Gomez, a political newcomer, for being in office too long. But Menino, the city's longest-serving mayor now in his 20th year in office, joked that longevity should be considered a good thing.
Menino wields a potent political organization in Boston that could help Markey's get-out-the-vote effort in the June 25 election for the seat formerly held by John Kerry. The mayor's endorsement of Democrat Elizabeth Warren in last year's Senate contest was seen as critical to her victory over then-incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. Scott Brown.
Markey attempted to defend himself Friday when asked about a Boston Globe story that said he has missed 40 recent votes in the U.S. House and hasn't cast a vote since May 9. Those missed votes included one on the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline, which would run from western Canada to Texas. Markey opposes the project.
He said he has been busy campaigning.
"I have been across the state for 150 days into cities and towns talking to voters, talking about the big issues that affect our state, affect our country," he said.
FOX 25's Sharman Sacchetti checked the days his staff e-mailed reporters about his public campaign events and found that he hasn't cast a vote since May 9. Last week, he missed votes on student loans and the Keystone pipeline, yet held no events through Friday.
"In the private sector, if you don't do your job, you don't get paid, and I also would say in the private sector if you don't do your job, you don't deserve a promotion," says his Republican opponent, Gabriel Gomez.
FOX 25 asked Mayor Menino to weigh in on the controversy.
"Missing votes, I can't explain that," says the mayor. "I can explain that every time the City of Boston needed him to stand up for the city, he stood up for us. I mean I can't explain why he missed votes."
Markey also told reporters he would not resort to name calling after Gomez, a businessman and former Navy Seal, used the term "pond scum" while lashing out at Markey over an online ad in which Markey faulted Gomez for speaking on behalf of a group that criticized President Barack Obama for taking too much credit for the raid that killed Osama bin Laden.
The ad briefly shows an image of Gomez alongside an image of bin Laden that was taken from a 22-minute video produced by the group that Gomez represented. The Gomez campaign responded with an ad calling Markey "dirty."
"For him to be as dirty and low pond scum to ... put me up next to bin Laden, you've just got to be called what he is," Gomez told a reporter in the clip, which was posted Thursday on YouTube.
"I think a lot of this is an attempt to distract from the big issues," Markey said Friday. "He clearly doesn't want to talk about his support for the NRA's position on assault weapons."
Gomez spent Friday campaigning in Bedford, Marlborough, Westborough, Milford, Hopedale, and Mendon.