While there may not be a lot of elections in 2013
, there definitely are some interesting ones. Chris Christie
of New Jersey is looking at a runaway win for re-election as he prepares for a likely 2016 presidential run. The disgraced former Republican Governor of South Carolina just defeated
Stephen Colbert's sister in a special election congressional race. And the governorship is up for grabs in key-state Virginia. And then there is Massachusetts, home of yet another special election for US Senate.
Why is there a Special Election?
After Hillary Clinton retired from her post as Secretary of State amidst a brewing scandal over her State Department's handling of Benghazi
, President Obama appointed former Democratic nominee for President John Kerry as her replacement. His departure left open a vacancy, and a special election date of June 25, 2013 was set. In 2010, a similar special election was held for the Massachusetts US Senate seat when Ted Kennedy died. Republican Scott Brown pulled off an upset with promises of being the 41st vote against Obamacare.
Democratic Nominee: Ed Markey
Ed Markey is a marginally popular liberal congressman who has served in the US House of Representatives since first winning election in 1976. He won the 2013 Democratic primary over fellow Congressman Stephen Lynch with 57% of the vote. Like previous Massachusetts Senators Kennedy and Kerry, Markey is one of the most liberal politicians in the congress and would be a natural choice for the ultra-liberal state. Markey's chief political passion appears to be global warming
Republican Nominee: Gabriel Gomez
Republican hopes for another Massachusetts miracle seemed to disappear when former US Senator Scott Brown passed on another special election battle. But Gabriel Gomez has made a solid impression early on, and most polls have him within striking distance. Gomez is a former Navy SEAL and business leader with a strong resume. He is similar to Scott Brown politically: a fiscal conservative who sorta opposes Obamacare but at least supports the keystone pipeline. Socially, he is not a conservative
by any measure. He claims to be pro-life but considers abortion law "settled." He is in favor of citizenship for illegals, legalizing gay marriage, battling "climate change," and expanding gun control
What Polling Says
The good news for Gabriel Gomez is that voters seem to like him and are generally accepting of his more moderate political positions. A recent WBUR poll
showed voters had a 37-16% favorable impression of Gomez. That +21 point spread was better than long-time politician Markey who stood at +18 (43-25). Overall, Markey was up just 41-35% with many voters undecided and unfamiliar with the candidates. An early May, 2013 poll by Public Policy Polling
had Markey up just 44-40%. In this poll, Gomez had a +14 favorable rating (41-27%) to just +3 for Markey (44-41%). Roughly a third of voters knew enough about Gomez, meaning he has plenty of time to expand a voting base. If Gomez stays close, he has a good shot at an upset based on a nationwide mood of anti-incumbency. He may be deemed acceptable enough against a Democrat who is lackluster at best.
Should Conservatives Support Gomez?
Many conservatives are already behind Gomez knowing full well that he is better than Markey. We certainly should want him to win. The best advice I can offer, however, is should he win to not hold high expectations that he will be a conservative savior. He is definitely not an Arlen Specter, but he is also not a Ted Cruz. Support him knowing that he is not going to vote our way all of the time, and that is something that we just have to deal with.