As the special Senate election to replace John Kerry in Massachusetts enters the final stretch, Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) leads Republican opponent Gabriel Gomez by a surprisingly slim margin, 44 percent to 40 percent, according to a new survey released Friday from Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling.
Gomez, a former Navy SEAL who spent years in private equity, has characterized himself as an outsider and businessman ready to reform government by working across the aisle. Markey, who was first elected to Congress in 1976, has been widely considered a strong front-runner in deep blue Massachusetts.Massachusetts voters view Gomez in a more favorable light, according to PPP’s first post-primary poll. Surveyed voters view the former Navy SEAL with a 41% favorable rating, compared to a 27% unfavorable rating. Voters remain more divided on Markey, however. Forty-four percent of respondents have a favorable opinion of the Democrat, compared with 41 percent who have an unfavorable opinion.
Markey begins with race with a comparative advantage — a large campaign war chest and plenty of time to define his Republican opponent, a relative newcomer unknown to many Massachusetts voters. To that end, his campaign fired an opening salvo this week claiming that Gomez carries more extreme positions than even former Republican Sen. Scott Brown.
“While we don’t pay attention to public polls, we’re confident that the more voters learn about Gabriel Gomez’s opposition to sensible gun reforms like banning assault weapons and limiting high-capacity magazines, support for devastating cuts to Social Security and the fact he can’t be trusted to protect a woman’s rights to choose, the clearer it will be that a vote for Gomez is a vote for a radical Republican agenda that’s bad for Massachusetts,” said Andrew Zuker, a spokesman for Markey’s campaign.
Democrats will also look to capitalize on Gomez’s decision against signing the so-called “People’s Pledge” to keep outside money from influencing in the race. Last year, both Elizabeth Warren and Scott Brown signed the pledge.
“I think it’s the height of hypocrisy when congressman Markey, who’s been taking outside money for the last 30 years from groups he regulates and has control over, and now he wants to ask me to do the same thing? I’m pretty clear on where I stand,” Gomez said Wednesday.
National Republicans, on the other hand, are painting Markey as an out-of-touch politician who’s time has finally come.
“Ed Markey is a stale candidate and his campaign has the feel of a ’78 Ford Pinto,” said Brad Dayspring, a spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee. “Gabriel Gomez is the future, Ed Markey is the past.”
The special election takes place on June 25. PPP surveyed 1,539 likely voters on May 1st and 2nd, and the poll’s margin of error is +/-2.5%.
This post has been updated.
Igor Bobic is the assistant editor of Talking Points Memo, helping oversee the site’s coverage of politics and policy in Washington. While originally from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Igor feels best at home on the beaches of Southern California. He can be reached at email@example.com.