Republican U.S. Senate hopefuls debate at CityStage - CBS 3 Springfield - WSHM

Republican U.S. Senate hopefuls debate at CityStage

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SPRINGFIELD, MA (WSHM) -

Political newcomer Gabriel Gomez, former U.S. Attorney Michael Sullivan and state Rep. Daniel Winslow faced off at CityStage Thursday night in their first primary debate in Western Mass.

The three candidates agreed on national issues like gun control - each of them saying that ownership should be tied to mental health.

"I think the state and federal governments must work a lot closer together to make sure adjudicated mentally ill are not getting access to firearms," Sullivan said.

Another national debate that is receiving attention here in Massachusetts is the Defense of Marriage Act.

All three candidates said they would repeal the act that defines marriage as between a man and a woman.

"I oppose any kind of discrimination. I think if two people are in love they should be able to get married," Gomez said.

When asked about abortion, only Winslow said he was pro-choice.

"My view is that the decision whether or not to have an abortion is a question for a woman's conscience, her faith and her family," he said.

The local economy was also addressed, as each candidate cited the western half of the state's high unemployment numbers.

"We need to make sure we can get more business-friendly policies so that companies that are out here in Western Massachusetts start hiring again so they can get rid of the uncertainty," Gomez said.

"Sadly, in Western Massachusetts, the unemployment rate is much higher than the statewide average, much higher than the national average," Sullivan said.

"I've been specific, I've put detailed proposals on the agenda that say how we're going to grow jobs," Winslow said.

Dozens packed CityStage to hear the debate and had mixed reviews.

"I thought it was a good debate, I thought they covered all the issues in a comprehensive way," said Brian Acker.

"I'm really looking for someone who's going to stand up and tell the truth rather than party lines," said Mike Mannix.

The Democratic candidates will debate in Springfield on April 18.

The primary election is April 30 with the special election on June 25.

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