BOSTON — The next phase of the special election to fill the open U.S. Senate seat for Massachusetts is now under way.
The Democratic nominee, Congressman Ed Markey, and his competitor, Republican nominee Gabriel Gomez, were just hours past their primary victories Wednesday, but they were already out hustling for votes in June.
The contrasts in experience couldn’t be clearer. A nearly 37-year congressman, Markey has the profile of a political warhorse steeped in the state’s long history of Democratic Party dominance. At 47, Gomez is the fresh political face, a former U.S. Navy SEAL and successful businessman whose parents emigrated here from Columbia.
Greeting voters Wednesday morning at a South Boston MBTA station, Gomez emphasized the contrast.
“You’ve got somebody here who literally in 1976 was playing Little League when Congressman Markey first got elected,” Gomez said, echoing a line from his victory speech Tuesday night. “There can’t be a better poster boy for term limits than Congressman Markey.”
Markey was offering his own comparisons.
“Gabriel Gomez says he is not pro-choice; I am pro-choice,” Markey said. “Gabriel Gomez says that there should not be a ban on assault weapons. … Well, I believe that we should be banning assault weapons, I believe we should be banning these [high-capacity] magazines.”
Markey appeared Wednesday morning at a Democratic Party unity event.
The loser of Democratic primary, South Boston Congressman Stephen Lynch, was by Markey’s side. Like the Republican Gomez, Lynch had played the outsider card — but now Lynch says he was criticizing the Washington Democratic machine, not Markey.
“Think about the hidden machine here,” Lynch said. “And that’s the outside money. That’s the big money that’s in play here. That’s the machine that people in Massachusetts should be rejecting.”
Pledges And Debates
Markey is again asking Gomez to take the so-called “people’s pledge” to discourage third-party campaign spending in the race, just as then-Sen. Scott Brown and now-Sen. Elizabeth Warren did in their contest.
But Gomez rejects the idea. He says Markey’s past record of taking lobbyist money makes that a hypocritical offer.
“I will take only one pledge,” Gomez said. “And that’s the pledge I took as a naval officer, and that’s the pledge to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
Markey says he’s proud of the public support he’s received from contributors like unions and technology innovators.
On the streets, some voters say they’ve already taken sides. But Milton resident Peter Clint, who watched the media scrum around Gomez at the South Boston T station, said he’s willing to give both men a look.
“I was just trying to listen to [Gomez], see how he interacted with the press, see how he interacted with the crowd,” Clint said. “Listening very closely to his stance on gay marriage, right-to-life, those types of things. I think that Ed’s been around a long time. I think he’d be a great senator, and I am interested to see the contrast in the debates.”
Gomez’s first challenge to Markey: three debates between now and the June 25 election. Although he wouldn’t commit to a specific number, Markey says it’s on.