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Democrats line up behind Ed Markey for Mass. Senate race

Billionaire Tom Steyer is pumping hundreds of thousands of dollars into the Massachusetts Senate Democratic primary coming up next week in efforts to

Billionaire Tom Steyer is pumping hundreds of thousands of dollars into the Massachusetts Senate Democratic primary coming up next week in efforts to oppose Rep. Stephen Lynch, a moderate Democrat, over his environmental record, Steyer told The Daily Rundown's Chuck Todd on Tuesday.

A former hedge fund executive, Steyer has been involved in California politics for years, but saw an opportunity to wade into the Massachusetts race over Lynch's support for the Keystone XL, hoping to boost frontrunner Rep. Ed Markey.

Lynch and Markey have both decried the involvement from Steyer—who has already spent more than $400,000 in online advertising and voter targeting—saying they want outside groups to stay out of the race as part their People's Pledge, an agreement like the one between Republican Scott Brown and Democrat Elizabeth Warren in last year's Senate race to curb the influence of outside spending.

Steyer avoided TV and radio ads to honor the pledge, but didn't give up his efforts to attack Lynch, though Steyer's actions did also pause in the wake of Boston. And now, a poll conducted for Steyer’s political organization earlier this month shows his involvement to boost Markey is working.

In polling numbers provided exclusively to The Daily Rundown, a survey from Democratic firm Benenson Strategy Group (who polled for President Obama's re-election campaign) conducted for Steyer’s NextGen super PAC just before last week’s tragic Boston bombings showed Markey had opened up a more than two-to-one lead over Lynch, 53% to 24%.

The Benenson poll was conducted April 8 through 10, delayed for release after the race paused on all accounts following last Monday’s tragic Boston Marathon bombings.

However, one poll partially conducted during the aftermath of the bombing showed a closer race between the two Democrats. A Western New England University Polling Institute survey unveiled this weekend showed Markey with just a 10-point lead, 44% to 34%. That poll was conducted April 11 through 18.

National Democrats still believe Markey is the frontrunner in the race, with virtually all the Democratic establishment lining up behind him. The winner will face the winner of the GOP nomination on June 25—either former Navy SEAL Gabriel Gomez, former U.S. attorney Michael Sullivan or state Rep. Daniel Winslow. Polling has shown Gomez taking a narrow lead over Sullivan.

The marquee showdown between the two Democrats has one week to go, with voters heading to the polls next Tuesday for the chance to succeed now Secretary of State John Kerry in what’s expected to be a low-turnout April 30 contest.

After both men suspended their campaigns in the wake of the Boston tragedy, stopping campaigning and taking down their television ads, their increasingly bitter fight was back on last night in the first debate since the attack.

According to the Boston Globe, the tense debate turned on national security, with Lynch attacking Markey for opposing a port security bill and creation of a joint terrorism task force.