The relatively easy win of Democratic Rep. Ed Markey in Tuesday's special Senate election in Massachusetts was really no surprise. In rolling up a margin of 55 percent to 45 percent over liberal Republican Gabriel Gomez, Markey had everything going for him.
Still well-aware of the embarrassing win by Republican Scott Brown in the nationally watched special election for Edward Kennedy's seat in 2010, Democrats never took it for granted that Markey would hold the former Senate seat of Secretary of State John Kerry.
"I feel very confident we'll hold [the seat] but based on recent history, we're not going to take any chances," Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Michael Bennet of Colorado said recently.
Accordingly, Markey was blessed with campaign appearances from the best-known Democratic "visiting firemen" Barack and Michelle Obama, Bill Clinton, Joe Biden, and Al Gore.
Arizona Sen. John McCain and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani were the only prominent Republicans to come to the Bay State to stump for Gomez — hardly a match for two presidents, two vice presidents, and a first lady.
Markey, 65, also had a major spending advantage coming into the race with a $3 million kitty left over from his House campaign and raising another $7.6 million for the special election. In contrast, first-time candidate Gomez raised $2.3 million.
Spending by outside groups also worked to the advantage of Markey. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, outside groups spent $4.6 million on his behalf, while such groups spent only $1.6 million to support Gomez.
On paper, Gomez appeared a perfect candidate for 2013. The son of Colombian immigrants, he graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy, served as a Navy SEAL, and then became a successful private equity executive.
Campaigning in his Navy jacket and wearing a Boston Bruins tie, Gomez was a hit with many audiences. At a time when Republicans are growing increasingly conservative nationwide, the Massachusetts Senate hopeful sounded more like past liberal GOP leaders from his state such as Sen. Henry Cabot Lodge or Gov. William Weld.
"I'm a green Republican," Gomez told Business Week. "I believe in climate change, and I believe that humans have had something to do with climate change."
The Republican hopeful also supported gay marriage and agreed with Obama on a "path to citizenship" for illegal immigrants and background checks for gun-owners. While he considers himself "pro-life," Gomez promised not to seek any changes in existing abortion law.
The lone area on which Gomez took sharp issue with Obama and Markey was on Obamacare, the repeal of which he promised to support.
Gomez, who defeated two more conservative opponents to win the Republican nomination, clearly had some problems with some of his party's more conservative grass-roots activists.
As one longtime party activist who requested anonymity told Newsmax before the voting, "Here is a Republican nominee who actually wrote to the Democratic governor seeking appointment to the Senate after Kerry resigned and saying how he contributed $1,000 to Obama in '08. That's unforgivable to many of us."
Markey will have to run for a full term next year. At this point, the guessing is that Gomez will not seek a rematch and instead enter a race he has a better chance of winning.
There is considerable speculation Gomez will be the lieutenant governor running-mate of Charles Baker, the Republican gubernatorial nominee in 2010 who is likely to make another race next year.
For their part, Republican leaders will point to the election, cite the Democratic advantages in the Bay State, and probably shrug in unison: "It wasn't in the cards."
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.
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