UPDATE 9:20 p.m. – The Associated Press has reported Democratic Rep. Ed Markey has won the Democratic Senate primary and will face Republican Senate candidate Gabriel Gomez, a businessman and former Navy SEAL in June's special election for John Kerry's former Senate seat.
Heated battles have long marked Massachusetts Senate races, but Tuesday's special election primary for Secretary of State John Kerry's vacated seat, overshadowed by the recent Boston Marathon bombing, was unusually quiet. Officials expected about 550,000 ballots to be cast on the Democratic side, and only 200,000 on the Republican.
“Normally, we’d be getting people calling and checking on their voting status and e-mailing us, and we’re really not getting that today,” Geraldine Cuddyer, chairwoman of Boston’s Election Commission, told the Boston Globe Monday. “From our perspective, it’s a very quiet day before the election, which tends to indicate it will be a quiet election day.”
On the Democratic side, Rep. Ed Markey was touted as the favorite against opponent and fellow Rep. Stephen Lynch. Markey tied up a number of key Democratic endorsements early in the race, including those of Caroline Kennedy, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, the Boston Globe, and Kerry himself. And Lynch--in a stroke of bad luck--came down Monday with a stomach bug which kept him from a number of events on the day before the election.
msnbc's Lawrence O'Donnell predicted a Markey win back in January, not only in the primary but in the general election on June 25th: "So it's settled," he said in a Rewrite segment on January 8th."Ed Markey is going to be the next elected senator from Massachusetts."
The GOP primary appeared to be a bit more competitive. In this three-way race, state rep and former acting ATF director Michael Sullivan faced off against businessman Gabriel Gomez and fellow state Rep. Daniel Winslow. Sullivan is the favorite of a number of Tea Party groups (he's the only candidate in both primaries who opposes marriage equality), but some Republican operatives, including former Mitt Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstrom, believe Gomez's outsider pitch may be more effective in a general election.
“People tend to underestimate the power of the insider-outsider dynamic in Massachusetts Republican politics,” Fehrnstrom said Tuesday. “It helps explain why Mitt Romney and Bill Weld came from outside politics to win statewide office."
The general election for Kerry's seat is critically important for Democrats, who hope to maintain the 55-45 lead in the Senate. Whoever nabs the Republican nomination will have an uphill battle against a Democratic opponent in a largely Democratic state. But as Scott Brown has shown, it's not an impossible seat for the GOP to win.
Polls closed at 8PM; first reports already indicated a light turnout.