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Longtime Democratic Congressman Ed Markey wins Tuesday's Massachusetts Senate election

Updated 11:02 p.m. ET

Updated 11:02 p.m. ET

Massachusetts voters have elected longtime Congressman Ed Markey as their new senator to fill the seat left vacant by Secretary of State John Kerry. With almost all the votes counted, Congressman Ed Markey of Malden has won 55% of the vote. His opponent, Republican Gabriel Gomez of Cohasset, has 45% of the vote.

The Democratic candidate was expected to win Tuesday's Senate special election as he has consistently been up in the polls in the traditionally Democratic-leaning state, leading political newcomer Gabriel Gomez.

"Thanks to the opportunities this country gave me, this son of a milkman is going to serve the state of Massachusetts in the United States Senate," Markey said in Tuesday night's victory speech. "They told me of their frustrations with gridlock, that they wanted to make real progress creating an economy that worked for everyone, that we put real gun safety measures on the books, that we protect a women's right to choose!"

But the 47-year-old Republican businessman and former Navy SEAL was no match for Markey, a 37-year veteran of the House of Representatives, in a state where President Obama won by a margin of 23 points over former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.

The most recent poll conducted by Suffolk University put Markey 10 points ahead of Gomez--52 to 42%--among likely voters. With both campaigns fighting to increase turnout on Tuesday, TK visited the polls to cast their ballots. A Western new England University poll found less voter interest in special elections, with only 42% of registered voters interested in the Massachusetts special Senate race compared to 82% of registered voters who had "a lot" of interest in the 2012 presidential election.

With 15,000 active volunteers campaigning for Markey and 16,000 completed shifts knocking on doors to get out the vote, the Markey campaign was able to spread a Democratic platform that resonated with voters in a highly blue state.

Markey also outraised and outspent Gomez by a wide margin.

High-profile Democrats, including Secretary John Kerry and President Obama, rallied early on for Markey. The Democratic Congressman said at a campaign stop in Lawrence, Mass. that Kerry had already chosen him as his successor at the onset of the race. "He encouraged me to run for his seat," Markey said. "And it would be a great honor for me to serve with John Kerry and Ted Kennedy who served our state so long and so well."

Earlier this month, President Obama praised Markey's experience during a campaign appearance in Roxbury Crossing, Mass. "I've got to have folks with me" who stand up for "working people," the president said. "I need Ed Markey in the United States Senate."

This year's special election is a far cry from the upset in the 2010 Massachusetts Senate election when Scott Brown unexpectedly closed the gap in the last few days of the campaign, beating Democratic candidate Martha Coakley.

Markey will succeed William "Mo" Cowan who was appointed as interim senator by Gov. Deval Patrick after President Obama appointed Kerry as Secretary of State. Democrats will continue to hold 54 seats in the Senate with a potential Democratic gain in October's special election in New Jersey.

On Dec. 28 when Ed Markey became the first person to officially announce his run for Kerry's Senate seat, msnbc's Lawrence O'Donnell predicted the Democratic candidate would win the special election, even with Scott Brown as a contender.

"I am hereby declaring Ed Markey, the winner to be in the Senate race," O'Donnell said on his program that evening. Watch his discussion with msnbc's Ari Melber and The Washington Post's Jonathan Capehart.