Stage set for Markey vs. Gomez in MA-SEN special election

As optics go, not a bad look for the Republican Party in this usually reliable blue state. Perhaps another young, vibrant military man with an independent streak can surprise everyone there. He’s interesting enough to grab the lead in the Boston Globe, despite the R beside his name:

Will he be the next Scott Brown?

Gabriel E. Gomez, a 47-year-old son of immigrants who became a Navy pilot and SEAL before becoming a private equity investor, won the Republican nomination tonight for the US Senate special election to replace John F. Kerry, bringing a fresh face to a race that had drawn scant interest from an electorate distracted by the Boston Marathon bombings.

Meanwhile, veteran US Representative Edward J. Markey beat fellow Representative Stephen F. Lynch in the race for the Democratic nod in the traditionally blue state.

Gomez is a political newcomer who will face Markey on June 25. He’s about to give an acceptance speech, which I’ll update this post with as soon as I see it.

Always a serious uphill battle in Massachusetts, but it’s worth noting this is a another low-attention special election, which yields the best chances for fresh newcomers like Gomez. I don’t know enough about him to evaluate him as a candidate, but his personal story is certainly impressive, and he’s styling himself as a new generation of Republican, highlighting his immigrant roots and rise to Harvard and the ranks of the SEALs.

Even before the April 15 bombing, the campaign had failed to capture the attention of voters compared with the 2010 special election following the death of longtime Democratic Sen. Edward Kennedy. Former Republican Sen. Scott Brown won the seat, surprising Democrats, but was ousted last year in another high-profile race by Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren.

A win would help Senate Democrats maintain a caucus edge of 55-45 as they press forward on major issues including immigration and gun control.

Update: This seems like a decent short-form handicapping of the race at this point. We could count on Martha Coakley to goof up enough to lose. Democrats will be wary about making the same mistakes again.

Update: Here’s a primer on Gomez, who is a Northeastern moderate perhaps in the Chafee mold, having supported President Obama in 2008.

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