Businessman and former Navy SEAL Gabriel Gomez and veteran U.S. Rep. Edward Markey will face each other in a special election for the U.S. Senate seat previously held by John Kerry. Markey won the Democratic nomination, defeating U.S. Representative Stephen Lynch.
The crowd was chanting "Markey, Markey" and the song "Lifting me Higher" was playing as the veteran Congressman took the podium for his victory speech.
He thanked his primary opponent Steven Lynch and signaled the party would pull together now in the very short run-up to the general election.
"Steve Lynch and I are united," Markey said at the Omni Parker House Hotel. "We are brothers in the Democratic party."
Markey’s victory is no surprise. He was the early favorite. And won endorsements from the state’s top democrats, including members of the Kennedy family, Secretary of State John Kerry, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Markey also led all the other candidates in fundraising.
In recent weeks, the race was overshadowed by the Boston marathon bombings. Markey acknowledged the explosions in his speech, and said that out of tragedy came triumph.
"Martin Luther King said darkness cannot drive out darkness, only the light can do that," Markey said. "That is what happened in Boston over the last two weeks. Light drove back the darkness. Love drove back the hate."
Markey then switched focus to the issues. He has one of the most liberal voting records in Congress. He vowed to continue to fight for the environment, abortion rights and gun control.
"Now is the time to stand with President Obama to pass common sense gun safety laws," he said. "We need to make the NRA stand for Not Relevant Anymore in American politics."
After his victory speech, Markey went after his opponent, Gabriel Gomez, as an extreme Republican.
"I am pro-choice, and he is not," he said. "I favor banning assault weapons and these dangerous magazines that turn them into weapons of war, and he does not. I support protecting Medicare and Social Security and he's ready to put it on the operating table."
The message has a familiar ring. Democrat Elizabeth Warren rode to victory six months ago, in part by tying her opponent to the national Republican agenda. Markey signaled that he would follow in her footsteps.
He also warned that Republican money from Karl Rove, the Koch brothers and super PACs would begin to flood the state. He challenged Gomez to sign the so-called People’s Pledge, designed to discourage television, radio and Internet ads by outside groups.
"He is saying, very clearly, that he is going to welcome in the Koch brothers, and Karl Rove, and all of these outside interests into the state of Massachusetts, that he is not going to take the same pledge that Scott Brown took, which means he is going to run a race funded by huge amounts of undisclosed money from polluters, from the NRA, from special interests," Markey said. "And the people of Massachusetts will have no way of knowing who, in fact, is funding the campaign of Gabriel Gomez."
Markey, 66, has served in the U.S. House of Representatives since 1977. He rose from humble roots, the son of a milkman and the first in his family to go to college, to become a power broker in the House. As an incumbent, Markey hasn’t had a tough race in more than 30 years. But he says he’s ready.
"This is going to be an incredible race on big issues, and I'm looking forward," he said.
The special election is on June 25th.