Democratic Congressman Edward J. Markey’s campaign for the Massachusetts Senate seat is drawing visits from President Obama and former President Clinton to bolster support as his lead drops.
Two weeks ago, a Suffolk University poll showed that Markey held a 12 percent advantage over Republican candidate Gabriel E. Gomez. The same study from Monday, June 10 showed Markey’s lead had dropped to 7 percent.
Markey, a veteran congressman with over 35 years of experience, is facing a serious challenge posed by Gomez, a former Navy SEAL and private equity investor. Gomez has gained particularly strong support in central Mass. and is branding himself as a moderate Republican.
Obama’s Boston visit on June 12 emphasized Markey’s legislative experience. “The face of the matter is that a whole bunch of Republicans out there are not interested in getting things done. They think compromise is dirty word,” he said at the Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center in Roxbury Crossing. “We’ve got to have some Democrats, like Ed Markey, who will stand up and do the right thing. That’s what we need."
Obama’s visit comes on the heels of a massive fundraising effort in Washington led by Vice President Biden and former vice president Al Gore. On Tuesday, June 11, the Democratic leaders raised $250,000 for Markey’s cause.
Markey’s sudden decline in the polls has caused some to speculate that his campaign has been affected by the series of public troubles plaguing the Obama administration. Obama’s support, which remains strong in Massachusetts, has nonetheless been faltering in recent weeks.
"The numbers that you've seen dropping nationally are dropping here as well," said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center. "There are some Massachusetts voters who are beginning to question the administration on some of these issues."
According to the president, however, the main obstacle to Markey’s victory is low voter turnout. “We’ve got a whole lot of Democrats in this state and a whole lot of Obama voters, but you can’t just turn out during a presidential election. You’ve got to turn out in this election,” he said to Bostonians.
Former President Clinton is also slated to speak in Worcester this weekend.
The special election to replace the Senate seat left vacant by Secretary of State John Kerry will be held on June 25.