Longtime Rep, Republican newcomer win nominations in Massachusetts special election

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May 1, 2013


By Jennifer Springer

Boston, Massachusetts: Longtime Rep. Ed Markey won the Democratic nomination in the special Massachusetts primary to fill the U.S. Senate seat yesterday.[1]

He will face Republican nominee Gabriel Gomez in the June 25 special election.[1][2][3] The victor will fill the seat vacated by John Kerry earlier this year when he was confirmed as U.S. Secretary of State.[1]

In the meantime, Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick has appointed William "Mo" Cowan to serve as interim senator.[1]

Markey, who has served in the U.S. House since 1976 and is the dean of the state's congressional delegation, was the first candidate to announce his intention to run for U.S. Senate, and immediately gained the backing of powerful the Democratic establishment, including Kerry and Victoria Kennedy, the wife of the late Sen. Edward Kennedy. Democrats tried to clear the field and avoid a divisive primary but pressure from Democrats in the state, however, did not dissuade 8th District Representative Stephen Lynch from joining the race.[4]

For most of the race, the campaigns focused on domestic issues – abortion, health care, gun control, and environmental and economic issues. Progressive groups, pro-choice groups, environmentalists and Democratic politicians formed the base of Markey’s support while Lynch relied heavily on organized labor.[4]

Heated battles have long marked Massachusetts Senate races, but this time around the special election primary, overshadowed by the recent Boston Marathon bombing, was unusually quiet.[5] Officials expected and saw low turnout overall.[5]

Markey raised three times more money than Lynch, having raised $4.8 million through the end of the last reporting period, compared with $1.5 million for Lynch, which allowed him to advertise more heavily.[4]. He also had a strong ground game, and employed some of the same people who helped Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren win her 2012 race.

Consistently, polling throughout the race showed Markey with a strong lead over Lynch.[4]

Despite candidates signing a “people’s pledge” barring outside groups from advertising in the race, Markey benefited from an influx of outside spending, much of it from environmental and abortion rights groups.[4] Of the more than $2.2 million spent by outside groups, nearly 84 percent went to Markey, according to Federal Election Commission (FEC) reports.[6]

Republican nominee Gabriel Gomez is a newcomer to politics.[7] The son of Colombian immigrants, Gomez became a Navy pilot and SEAL, earned an MBA at Harvard and launched a private equity career.[7] He was virtually unknown in Massachusetts politics before announcing his plan to run for Kerry's seat earlier this year.[8][8] He beat out former U.S. attorney Michael Sullivan and state Rep. Daniel Winslow for the nomination.[7]

Gomez "cast himself as the new face of the Republican Party," which has struggled to reach out to minority populations following the defeat last year of Republican presidential candidate and former Gov. Mitt Romney.[8] He has introduced himself in Spanish in campaign ads and in campaign stops across the state, where Hispanic voters are a small but growing slice of the population.[8]

Democrats say they will not take the race for granted, having learned from the 2010 special election in which Republican U.S. Sen. Scott Brown shocked the many by defeating Democrat Martha Coakley. Former Gov. Michael Dukakis (D) commented on the Democratic party's chances in the race, saying “It’s going to be tough, it’s got to be taken seriously."[4]

U.S. Senate, Massachusetts Special Democratic Primary, 2013
Candidate Vote % Votes
Green check mark transparent.pngEd Markey 57.5% 311,219
Stephen Lynch 42.5% 230,335
Total Votes 541,554
Source: Election Results from Massachusetts Elections Division

U.S. Senate, Massachusetts Special Republican Primary, 2013
Candidate Vote % Votes
Green check mark transparent.pngGabriel Gomez 50.9% 96,057
Mike Sullivan 36% 67,946
Daniel Winslow 13.1% 24,662
Total Votes 188,665
Source: Election Results from Massachusetts Elections Division

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