Gomez Says Independents to Tip Scales in Massachusetts Election

Republican Senate candidate Gabriel Gomez said his appeal among independent voters will overcome his widening deficit in the polls in the Massachusetts special election this week.

Gomez and Democrat Ed Markey, a 37-year member of the House, are competing in the June 25 vote for the seat vacated by Democrat John Kerry when he became Secretary of State.

“Our message is resonating among independents, Democrats, Republicans,” Gomez said on the “Fox News Sunday” program, adding that Markey appeals to “a narrow sliver of the Democratic Party.”

A Gomez victory would erode the Democrats’ 54-46 majority in the Senate, where President Barack Obama is pushing for a rewrite of immigration laws, and give Republicans a boost going into the 2014 congressional elections. It also would spotlight Massachusetts as a vanguard of shifting national political attitudes reminiscent of early 2010, when voter discontent helped Scott Brown become the state’s first Republican U.S. senator since 1979.

A parade of Democrat stars, including first lady Michelle Obama, former President Bill Clinton, Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz -- as well as singer Carole King -- have campaigned on Markey’s behalf. Vice President Joe Biden visited the commonwealth yesterday, where he said Gomez, if elected, would be a reliable vote for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who leads the chamber’s Republicans.

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“If he wants Gabriel Gomez in his caucus, it’s not because he thinks he will ever disagree with him,” Biden said. “It’s because he wants a Republican majority and he knows he can count on the guy to vote with him on everything he needs.”

A poll published June 21 by New England College showed Markey with a 20-point lead over Gomez. Gomez has support from 45 percent of independent voters, the poll showed.

A June 16 poll from the Boston Globe put Markey 13 percentage points ahead and showed Gomez with a nine-point lead among unaffiliated voters, who make up about 53 percent of those registered to cast ballots.

That edge is short of the 2-to-1 margin Gomez likely needs from that bloc to overcome the more than 3-to-1 advantage registered Democrats have over Republicans in the state, said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center in Boston.

Markey has outspent Gomez almost 4-to-1, according to Federal Election Commission records. Markey’s campaign has had outlays of $8.6 million since January compared to Gomez’s $2.3 million.

The challenge for both candidates Tuesday will be getting voters to participate in an election that features a single race. In November, more than 3.1 million ballots were cast in Massachusetts. In a January 2010 special election, the turnout was less than 2.3 million.

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