Veteran Democratic Congressman Edward Markey won the special election for U.S. Senate in Massachusetts to succeed John Kerry. The counting of the votes Tuesday night brought to a close a campaign that may best be remembered for the voter apathy it produced.
Sixty-six year old Edward Markey, with the help of thousands of volunteers who turned out votes for him in the state’s liberal bastions and blue-collar cities, handily defeated Republican political newcomer Gabriel Gomez .
Senator-elect Markey addressed a cheering crowd at the Park Plaza Hotel in Boston Tuesday night. His speech was broadcast live on New England Cable News. The new senator-elect spent most of his 10- minute speech thanking supporters.
Markey noted that he is the son of a milkman from blue-collar Malden Massachusetts. He was the first in his family to go to college. Markey worked on an ice cream truck to help pay his way through law school.
Markey pledged to work to create jobs in Massachusetts in the field of clean energy.
Markey, who has represented an eastern Massachusetts Congressional district for 37 years, is the longest serving member of the U.S. House to make the jump to the Senate. He said he will try to break the partisan gridlock in Washington that has frustrated many.
Markey scored resounding victories throughout the Berkshires and western Massachusetts hill towns. He won in Springfield and liberal strongholds such as Northampton and Amherst. Gomez carried many of the suburban and rural communities between Springfield and Worcester.
More than a million fewer votes were cast Tuesday than in the last special Senate election in 2010 when Republican Scott Brown upset Democrat Martha Coakley. The low turnout was blamed on several factors including Markey’s low-key campaign.
Markey said his campaign had 15,000 volunteers who reached out either by telephone or in person to 3 million voters. His campaign spent about $8 million, roughly twice what his Republican rival spent. President Obama, the First Lady, Vice President Biden, and former President Clinton all came to Massachusetts to campaign for Markey.
Gomez made note of what he said were the” overwhelming odds” his campaign faced when he apologized to his supporters on Tuesday for coming up short.
Gomez, who said he called Markey and wished him all the best, gave no hint about his political future.
Markey is expected to be sworn in early next month. His term will be for only 17 months, so he’ll face reelection in 2014.
The impending departure of Markey from the House will leave Congressman Richard Neal of Springfield as the dean of the state’s House delegation. Neal said it is more than honorific.
Neal is serving his 25th year in the U.S. House.