Friday, April 18, 2014
The Associated Press
BOSTON — Democratic U.S. Rep. Edward Markey and Republican former Navy SEAL Gabriel Gomez won their party primaries on Tuesday, setting up a race between a 36-year veteran of Washington politics and a political newcomer for the U.S. Senate seat formerly held by John Kerry.
U.S. Senate candidate Ed Markey shakes hands with a supporter in Boston, Tuesday, April 30, 2013 as he celebrates winning the Democratic primary for the special U.S. Senate election. Markey and Republican former Navy SEAL Gabriel Gomez won their party primaries Tuesday, setting up a race between a 36-year veteran of Washington politics and a political newcomer for the U.S. Senate seat formerly held by John Kerry. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
Markey, of Malden, defeated fellow U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch, of South Boston, in the Democratic primary while Gomez, a Cohasset businessman, bested former U.S. Attorney Michael Sullivan and state Rep. Daniel Winslow in the GOP primary, according to unofficial returns. The special election is scheduled for June 25.
The race to fill the seat Kerry left to become U.S. secretary of state has been overshadowed by the deadly Boston Marathon bombing, and the candidates had to temporarily suspend their campaigns.
Even before the April 15 bombing, the campaign had failed to capture the attention of voters compared with the 2010 special election following the death of longtime Democratic Sen. Edward Kennedy. Former Republican Sen. Scott Brown won the seat, surprising Democrats, but was ousted last year in another high-profile race by Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren.
Markey, 66, led all the other candidates in fundraising and had won the backing early on of Kerry and a large segment of the Democratic establishment, compared to the 58-year-old Lynch, a conservative, self-described "pro-life" Democrat and former ironworker who was dogged in part by his decision to vote against President Barack Obama's 2010 health care law.
Markey, in his speech to supporters Tuesday, ticked off a series of his accomplishments during more than three decades in Congress and warned that the national Republican supporters of Gomez are ready to "move mountains of money to buy this election for big oil, and the NRA, and those who want to turn back the clock on women's rights."
"This campaign is about standing up to the special interests and the extreme tea party Republicans who want to stop progress and send our country in the wrong direction. I am ready for that fight," he said.
Lynch told disappointed supporters that he was proud of standing up for working men and women.
Gomez quickly seized on the contrast between the veteran Markey and his own political newcomer status. He noted that in 1976, when Markey was first elected to Congress, Gerald Ford was president, the Internet had not been invented, eight-track recordings were popular and he was playing Little League baseball.
"If you're looking for an experienced, slick talking politician, I'm definitely not your guy," Gomez told supporters.
"If you are looking for an independent voice, a new kind of Republican, take a look at our campaign and I'd welcome your support," he said.
Gomez, 47, the son of Colombian immigrants, celebrated his outsider status, wearing his lack of Washington experience as a badge of honor. Gomez also had a compelling life story, learning to speak English in kindergarten before going on to become a Navy pilot and SEAL, earn an MBA at Harvard Business School and launch a career in private equity.
Gomez cast himself as the new face of the Republican Party, which has struggled to reach out to minority populations following the defeat last year of GOP presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.
Gomez launched his victory speech in Spanish, as he did in campaign ads and on the stump in a state where Hispanic voters are a small but growing slice of the population.
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