I try not to make many predictions, or take too seriously the prognostication business. But I clearly got it wrong after Scott Brown was elected when I said, repeatedly, that we’d never see another election like that one. The current campaign, like Yogi said, is deja vu all over again.
I said as much in my column Sunday: “the state now finds itself facing a special election similar to the 2010 contest to fill the late Ted Kennedy’s seat: a distracted electorate, an under-the-radar campaign, a low turnout and, perhaps, a surprise.”
That surprise is Gabriel Gomez. A virtual unknown – he lost his only previous try for public office, when he ran for Cohasset selectman – Gomez is suddenly the new Scott Brown, having handily defeated two better known and more experienced Republicans, Michael Sullivan and Dan Winslow (just 13 percent!).
This sets up the race Markey probably wouldn’t have wanted: Old vs. young, hunky ex-SEAL vs. unphotogenic career pol, fresh-faced latino vs. familiar Irish hack, a guy who has spent his entire life in government vs. a guy without a single day of relevant experience. Markey doesn’t like it, but there are a lot of voters who hate government so much that they consider lack of experience a prime qualification for the most important government job.
You’ve got to hand it to Gomez. He has managed to get “former Navy SEAL” accepted as the phrase most often used to describe him. His experience as a private equity investor is rarely mentioned, though I expect the Markey campaign plans to do something about that. Would he be the first Wall Street professional in the Senate since Jon Corzine?
Gomez has a lot going for him, especially in a special election in the middle of summer, especially if he can raise money like Brown did and make commercials of the same caliber. Markey’s advantage is evident in Tuesday’s vote: 539,278 voters picked up Democratic ballots; 188,499 picked up Republican ones. The turnout will be larger on June 25, of course, but where and by how much will make all the difference. As last year’s Warren victory shows, Democrats this time won’t make Martha Coakley’s mistake of taking organization and turnout for granted.