With days to go before Massachusetts voters fill the seat left open by former senator and now Secretary of State John Kerry, more political observers feel that Rep. Ed Markey will keep the seat in Democratic hands.
But, there is still quite a bit of uncertainty about the outcome, just as there was before the victory of Republican Scott Brown for the Senate seat long held by Edward Kennedy in the Bay State's January 2010 special election.
A just-completed Boston Globe poll shows that among likely voters on June 25, Markey leads centrist Republican Gabriel Gomez by a margin of 54 percent to 41 percent statewide.
Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet, chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, said as much at a recent press breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor.
"I feel very confident we'll hold [the Massachusetts seat]. But based on recent history, we're not going to take any chances," Bennet said in an obvious reference to the Brown upset in 2010 over state Attorney General Martha Coakley.
In recent weeks, 65-year-old Markey has been blessed with campaign appearances from President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, former President Bill Clinton, Vice President Joe Biden, and 2000 Democratic presidential nominee Al Gore. In addition, the state’s Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who unseated Brown last fall, has signed fundraising letters on Markey’s behalf.
Scoffing at most poll figures, Massachusetts Republican National Committeeman Ron Kaufman took heart in the last Suffolk University Poll showing Markey with a lead of only 48 percent to 41 percent over Gomez among likely voters.
"And one week before that, Suffolk — the poll with the best track record of all here — showed Markey leading by 14 percentage points," Kaufman told Newsmax. "Something is happening here. Voters are getting to know Gabe and they like who he's not — namely, a lifelong career politician who lives in Maryland [like Markey]."
As Gomez did in winning the three-candidate Republican primary over two more conservative opponents, the first-time office seeker is primarily running a "resume" campaign. He emphasizes his personal saga as the son of Colombian immigrants who went on to graduate from the U.S. Navy Academy, serve as a Navy SEAL, and then go on to make a fortune as a venture capitalist.
The Republican nominee has been critical of fellow party members who dispute climate-change science and describes himself as pro-life but unwilling to change present laws permitting abortion.
When Kerry resigned from the Senate to become secretary of state, Gomez wrote Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick seeking appointment to the Seat as a Republican. He actually contributed $1,000 to Barack Obama in 2008, although the insists that he ended up voting for John McCain, who has campaigned in Boston for his fellow Navy man.
"And that’s the big reason Gomez has not been able to generate enthusiasm among the grass-roots Republicans," one longtime GOP activist told Newsmax. "Seeking appointment from Patrick and then saying he agreed with Obama on issues such as gun control really upset a lot of folks. Sure, Gomez won the primary because he spent a lot of his own money and he was the only one of the Republicans who had never held office. But that's as far as he'll go."
Could a sense of public outrage over Obama administration scandals involving the Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Justice generate enough voter outrage to elect Gomez, just as voter anger over Obamacare helped fueled Brown's win in 2010?
"Unequivocally, yes," Kaufman told Newsmax, adding that "there is an overall climate of disappointment with both the president and Congress, and here in Massachusetts, every member of Congress is a Democrat."
He added that Markey is being perceived as a "charter member of the 'What's Wrong in Washington Club.'"
Should Gabriel Gomez win on Tuesday, the news will be nothing short of a political tsunami. Prognosticators will talk of a ripple effect for the 2014 mid-term elections, much as Scott Brown’s win was interpreted as the first shot fired in what became a Republican banner year in 2010.
But should Ed Markey triumph, the short-hand interpretation, considering the state's reputation as a bastion of liberalism, will most likely be: "Well, that's Massachusetts."
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