Massachusetts Senate Primaries: Democrats May Regain Vacant Seat

The special Massachusetts Senate election is now underway and entering its primary stages. Democratic and Republican hopefuls will try and claim the vacant Senate seat left by Democrat John Kerry after his resignation to become President Obama’s new secretary of state. While the official election day will be held on June 25, 2013, candidates have already begun to launch their campaigns to secure voters in the Bay State. Based on the latest poll numbers, the GOP is lagging behind their Democratic counterparts in terms of public opinion, and Massachusetts residents will most likely witness a Democratic victory.

As of now, Gov. Deval Patrick has appointed Boston attorney William Cowan as the interim senator. The other Senate seat is currently occupied by Democratic newcomer Elizabeth Warren, who defeated incumbent Republican Senator Scott Brown. Brown essentially became a GOP outlier who held office in a strongly blue state, whose victory came during a special election after the death of Sen. Ted Kennedy. Brown defeated Democratic heavyweight Martha Coakley. With that in mind, Massachusetts Democrats will aim to restore their historical dominance in Congress.

Three Republican contenders have since become active participants in the Senate election. U.S Attorney Michael J. Sullivan, state Rep. Daniel Winslow, and businessman Gabriel Gomez have all put their names in the running against a strong Democratic opposition. The trio engaged in their first debate on Tuesday, March 12.

Sullivan is a former attorney that claims his experience in prosecution will be of value in office. He has come under fire, however, by Democrats for his views on same sex marriage. Daniel Winslow is a former trial court judge in the Massachusetts District Court, and Winslow now holds office in the House. Gabriel Gomez is a virtual political outsider, being a businessman from the Boston suburb of Cohasset. Gomez was a former navy SEAL and has had an impressive military career. However the campaigns for these GOP hopefuls may be moot, in that the Democrats have already surpassed them in public opinion.

On the Democratic side, two contenders have become active competitors. Rep. Edward Markey and Rep. Stephen Lynch have both dominated polls against their Republican rivals, but Markey has appeared to be the front-runner overall. In a poll conducted by Garin Hart Yang Research group, which has since endorsed Markey, it found that 42% of Democratic primary voters supported Markey over Lynch’s 28% support.

More polls suggest an overwhelming trend in Democratic favorability. Courtesy of Real Clear Politics, a UMASS Lowell/Boston Herald Poll found Markey with 50% support to Lynch’s 21%, securing Markey with a 29 point lead in the primary. In another UMASS poll, Lynch defeated Gomez with 45% favorability to Gomez’s 27%. In each poll provided, both Markey and Lynch were victorious over their GOP counterparts.

From these latest poll numbers, it appears that the GOP will have to put up a significant fight in hopes of amassing a large following. However, competing with heavyweights Markey and Lynch, a Democratic victory will most likely occur in the foreseeable future come June 25.

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Shawna Gillen

Shawna is currently studying Political Science and Psychology at Marist College. She has a passion for politics and is an aspiring lawyer. In her spare time she likes to play club women's rugby, and contributes as the Co-News Editor for Marist's student newspaper.

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