Obama in Boston as Markey calls on party's big guns to fend off Gomez (+video)
With memories of Republican Scott Brown's upset win in the last special Senate election in the deep blue state still fresh, Markey needs Obama et al to remind voters an election is taking place.
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“Here in Massachusetts you have a long history of sending smart, tough, hardworking leaders to the Senate, who roll up their sleeves and fight the great battles on behalf of middle-class families and everybody who’s trying to get into the middle class,” he said, before rattling off their names in quick succession: Ted Kennedy, John Kerry, Elizabeth Warren.
There was, of course, one recent Massachusetts senator missing from the president’s list: Scott Brown. In 2010, Mr. Brown, a Republican, sent the Democratic Party in this deep blue state into a tailspin when he upset Democratic Attorney General Martha Coakley in a special election to replace the late Senator Kennedy.
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Now, with the special election for Mr. Kerry’s former seat just two weeks away, Representative Markey is leaning on a growing cast of Democratic heavyweights to help him avoid that same fate at the hands of youthful Republican Gabriel Gomez. And he’s using them, by and large, to tout a simple fact – that there is an election at all.
“Markey knows he has got to raise awareness of this race,” says Shannon Jenkins, a political scientist at the University of Massachusetts in Dartmouth. “Republican turnout is pretty consistent in this state, but the Democrats have to get people to pay attention and turn out.”
That may seem simple in a state where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by a margin of 3 to 1 and Obama carried the vote by 24 percentage points in 2012. But special elections have a curious momentum, Ms. Jenkins says.
Without other races or referendums to energize voters, the candidates have to build excitement from a base level of zero. And this time around they have to do it on a political off-year, just as the Massachusetts winter thaws into a sunny New England summer and the Boston Bruins head for the finals of the Stanley Cup.