- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Massachusetts has a deep blue tint when it comes to politics, but the GOP vowed Wednesday to make the most of the special election to fill the state’s Senate seat previously held by Secretary of State John F. Kerry.

Rep. Edward J. Markey won the Democratic primary for the seat on Tuesday, and will face Republican businessman and former Navy SEAL Gabriel Gomez in a special election June 25.

Mr. Markey is the instant front-runner in a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans 3-to-1, and where liberal-leaning independents provide the swing votes.

Still, the National Republican Senatorial Committee said Mr. Markey is a product of a broken Washington, providing an opening for Mr. Gomez.

“Washington has done a lot of things wrong over the last 36 years, and Markey has been here for all of that,” NRSC Executive Director Rob Collins said in a memo outlining the race. “At a time when voters distrust and dislike Washington, Democrats could not have nominated a man more emblematic of its dysfunction.”

The nonpartisan Rothenberg Political Report rated the seat as “safe Democrat” last week, though Stuart Rothenberg tweeted Tuesday night, “We may actually have an interesting special election Massachusetts Senate race …. Could be worth watching, at least.”

Massachusetts Democrats were stung three years ago when then-state Sen. Scott P. Brown, a Republican, won a shocking victory over Democratic nominee Martha Coakley to fill the seat of the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy.

They’ve vowed not to be caught napping again.

Mr. Markey arguably delivered a backhanded compliment to Mr. Brown Wednesday morning, when he pushed Mr. Gomez to take the same pledge Mr. Brown and Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren did in their 2012 campaign not to accept money from outside groups that don’t disclose their donors.

“What Gabriel Gomez is saying is he’s a new kind of Republican, but he is saying he’s going to accept all of that money — it’s undisclosed, it’s unlimited,” Mr. Markey said on MSNBC’s “The Daily Rundown. “It is unseemly to have that kind of outside influence not be known by the voters of the state of Massachusetts as they would be casting their ballots.”

Still, Mr. Gomez, as Mr. Brown did in 2010, is casting himself as a Washington outsider who would bring a fresh voice to Capitol Hill.

“I have a lot of experience, and I think Congressman Markey has a lot of political experience,” Mr. Gomez said earlier in the program. “And I just think that right now we need real, practical, real-world experience, you know, being in the military for nine years, having been a pilot and a SEAL, having a lot of leadership, and then also being in the private sector, the real world, working with companies and knowing how the economy works.”

Mr. Gomez said he would have voted for the recent proposal in the U.S. Senate to expand gun-purchase background checks to sales online and at gun shows, but does not support bans on semiautomatic, military-style weapons or high-capacity magazines.

Mr. Gomez, whose parents are Colombian immigrants, said he supports the “Gang of 8” immigration proposal currently being hashed out in the Senate. He said he’s personally pro-life, but added that “I’m not going down there to change the law Roe v. Wade’s been around for 40 years and it’s settled law in Massachusetts.”

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick appointed William “Mo” Cowan, his former chief of staff, to fill Mr. Kerry’s seat until the special election. Independent Richard Heos will also be on the ballot June 25.