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Markey touts telecom work in first general election ad

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In the ad, Markey is credited with helping to boost innovation in the industry with his work on the Telecommunications Act of 1996.

"It's hard to believe, but 20 years ago, almost no one had broadband. Smartphones hadn't been invented yet. Facebook, Skype, Google — the stuff of science fiction," Markey says in the ad.

The ad features Diane Hessan, CEO of a Boston-based communications firm, vouching for Markey's efforts.

"Then Ed Markey fought to break up monopolies and transform the telecom industry, unleashing competition and private sector investment and creating good jobs," she says.

The ad will run on broadcast and cable TV in the Boston market for an unspecified amount of time. Markey's Republican opponent, Gabriel Gomez, has not yet gone on air for the general election.

But Markey's first ad is an early effort to shut down some of Gomez's more strident critiques at this point in the campaign.

Republicans have accused Markey of failing to address jobs and the economy in his campaign, as Markey has spent the first week of the general hammering Gomez for refusing to sign a pledge to keep outside money out of the race.

They're also seeking to make Markey's age and long tenure in Congress an issue, believing it will contrast unfavorably with Gomez's youth and business background. Markey's assertion that he's in part responsible for the development of innovative technologies used by young people, including Facebook and smartphones, could counter the perception that he's out of touch.

Markey's work on telecom policy came up during the Democratic primary debates; opponent Rep. Stephen Lynch accused him of overstating his accomplishments and noted that much of Massachusetts still lacks broadband access.

National Republicans also knocked Markey for taking "outlandish credit," a charge National Republican Senatorial Committee Communications Director Brad Dayspring repeated in a tweet on Wednesday.

Dayspring accused Markey of trying to take credit for the work of entrepreneurs and small business owners, while hurting businesses by supporting Democratic policies.

"The fact is that over his four decades in Washington, Ed Markey has consistently hurt businesses and workers by pushing for higher taxes and unnecessary regulations resulting in more and more red tape and fewer jobs. Trying to take credit for the innovation, investment, and jobs created by these businesses reveal just how out-of-touch — if not desperate — Ed Markey is," he said in a statement.

"Gabriel Gomez is a different kind of candidate, one who understands that opportunity and hard work creates success in Massachusetts, not Washington politicians," Dayspring added.

A focus on his telecommunications work could also fuel burgeoning charges of hypocrisy on the outside-money pledge from Republicans.

Markey received nearly $950,000 in contributions from PACs affiliated with the telecom industry since 2004, more than a third of the donations he's received from PACs overall.

And the Massachusetts Republican Party has already begun its offense on the pledge, delivering oversized checks to Markey at a Monday event that represented what a party spokesman said was special interest and PAC money the lawmaker has received during his career.