Low turnout didn’t produce any surprises in the Bay State, with Democrat Ed Markey and Republican Gabriel Gomez racking up expected wins in Tuesday’s Senate special election primary.
After trouncing their competition, the two men will now face off on June 25 for the right to succeed former Secretary of State John Kerry in the Senate. Markey, a 36-year congressional veteran, enters the two-month stretch as the favorite in the Democratic state, but Republicans like their chances with the newcomer Gomez, a former Navy SEAL.
The AP called the race for both around 9 p.m. ET--just an hour after polls closed. In the Democratic primary, Markey was leading Rep. Stephen Lynch 58% to 42%. On the GOP side, Gomez won the three-way race with 51%, besting former U.S. Attorney Michael Sullivan (36 percent) and state Rep. Daniel Winslow (13 percent).
The primary races in the Bay State had never gained much political steam--even being overshadowed by a sudden and more intriguing open Boston mayor’s office--but the Boston Marathon bombings pushed the race off the front pages and out of the public's thoughts. Candidates on both sides took down their ads, and campaigning paused for nearly a week until the massive manhunt concluded.
On the Democratic side, Lynch tried to make up ground, coming out aggressively in last week’s final debates and hitting Markey over national security votes. But the lead Markey had amassed, with the help of the backing from nearly all of the state and national party establishment, never evaporated.
On the GOP side, Gomez had the cash edge and took advantage of a fluid race, but also worked to portray himself as the face of a changing GOP. A super PAC from former Mitt Romney top aide Eric Fehrnstrom also ran ads on his behalf, and in the race’s closing days, it became obvious Gomez was the one to beat.
Related: GOP establishment has eye on Mass. Senate primary
National Republicans were not-so-secretly rooting for Gomez, and while they know it’s an uphill slog and Markey will need significant stumbles if they are to even come close to replicating Republican Scott Brown’s 2010 upset win over Democrat Martha Coakley, this is a race the Senate GOP is watching closely. And it's one that Democrats don’t want to cede with unforced errors again. Still, it’s only because the moderate, Hispanic, young Gomez emerged that this is even a race. This is still Massachusetts so the Democrat is likely to win--but it's still a race that's worth watching