Despite the state's Democratic leanings, the outcome of Massachusetts' U.S. Senate special election was not a foregone conclusion. It's easy to forget, but shortly after the primaries, Public Policy Polling found this was a four-point contest.
But Republicans' pick-up opportunities faded as their candidate struggled to find his footing, and in the end, the race wasn't close.
Veteran Democratic US Representative Edward J. Markey beat back a challenge from Republican businessman Gabriel E. Gomez today in a special election for US Senate in Massachusetts that was marked by its brevity and by low voter turnout.Markey garnered 55 percent of the votes, compared with 45 percent for Gomez, with 99 percent of precincts reporting late this evening. Markey, 66, and Gomez, 47, were vying to fill the seat that Democrat John F. Kerry left vacant when President Obama picked him to be US secretary of state in December.
As was the case in 2012, the polling in this race was quite accurate, and all the media hype about "the next Scott Brown" proved to be misguided.
It's unclear exactly when Markey will be sworn in, but his victory will not change the balance in the Senate -- he will succeed Democratic Sen. Mo Cowan, who was appointed in late January to temporarily fill Kerry's vacancy. Pending the special election in New Jersey in October, the Democratic Senate majority will remain at 54 seats.
That said, Markey's entrance guarantees another unapologetic progressive voice in the upper chamber. With a series of important legislative fights on the way, the senator-elect vowed in his victory speech to fight for measures to reduce gun violence, protect reproductive rights, and invest in infrastructure.
And in case there were any doubts, if Markey takes the oath before the looming immigration vote in the Senate, he will support comprehensive immigration reform.
For his part, Gomez has suggested he might try again, and may have another opportunity fairly soon -- Markey's victory only allows him to serve the rest of Kerry's term, and he will have to run again next year for a full term of his own.