The upcoming special election to fill John Kerry's Senate seat has presented both parties with a competitive race, and little time to choose a nominee. With this shortened primary season coming to an end in only 37 days, it presents a welcome opportunity to look at the races for the Democratic and Republican nominees.
On the Democratic side, both Representative Ed Markey of Malden and Representative Steve Lynch of South Boston have released campaign ads demonstrating the tenants of their shortened campaigns. Markey’s first ad, titled “Keep Standing Up” touted his liberal credentials and his opposition to the National Rifle Association. In the post-Newtown tragedy gun control debate, Markey’s support for a renewed assault weapons ban plays well with his liberal Democratic base, especially in left leaning Massachusetts.
Lynch has focused his campaign on his deep working-class roots as an ironworker for 18 years. Lynch’s campaign spent a quarter of its total $800,000 campaign funds in order to run his first two ads statewide, according to the Boston Globe. Both of the TV spots make frequent mentions to his years spent as a union member and night school student, with the second ad featuring an assortment of workers, students, and citizens echoing the refrain, “I am Stephen Lynch.”
The opposing candidates’ differences were highlighted by billionaire and environmental activist Thomas Steyer’s pledge. Steyer promises to pour untold amounts of money into the race and run attacks on Lynch for his support of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. Lynch refused to back down, bringing the issue of climate change and the Keystone pipeline to the front headlines. Even though Markey, a strong environmentalist, is opposed to the pipeline, he outlined his opposition to an out-of-state billionaire contributing to the outcome of the race.
Regarding the Republican field, all three candidates- Michael Sullivan, Gabriel Gomez, and state Rep. Dan Winslow- are combatting relative obscurity statewide. In a UMass Lowell/Boston Herald poll, all three candidates for the Republican nomination were unknown to at least 40 percent of the states' registered voters. Only a fifth of those polled even had an opinion on the presumed Republican frontrunner, Sullivan, former state representative, District Attorney, and acting director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms.
Furthermore, Sullivan’s campaign was not helped by the discovery that his campaign website had borrowed almost its entire “Issues” page from that of failed congressional candidate Richard Tisei’s site. Paul Moore managed both campaigns, and the oversight was attributed to the short time frame of the race.
Businessman and former Navy Seal Gomez was criticized for his actions prior to announcing his intentions to run for the open seat. In a letter personally delivered to Governor Deval Patrick, who was tasked with appointing an interim senator to serve from roughly January to early July, Gomez pledged support for President Barack Obama’s second term agenda on gun control and immigration reform. The highly unorthodox move was brought to light by Gomez’s shifts on both of the aforementioned issues, as he is now against an assault weapons ban. This series of events caused conservative Massachusetts’s political blog Red Mass Group to title a front-page post “Gomez Letter to Governor Patrick, End of Campaign?”
The state of the race appears to favor Markey at the moment. According to the poll by UMass Lowell/The Boston Herald, Markey leads Lynch in the primary battle by 29 percent, although his support is “soft” considering that 29 percent of those asked had no opinion. In the presumed general election battle, both Democrats soundly defeat all three Republican candidates by at least 17 percent points.
The Democratic candidates will have their first debate this Wednesday, at 7:30 p.m. in Needham, and the electorate will be able to form opinions on both candidates afterwards. The Republicans held their first debate last week at Stonehill College, and more are slated to occur. With the primary and the general election on June 30th nearing, there is little time to waste for all involved.
Feature photo courtesy of WEBN-TV/Flickr.