It’s the year 1976. Gerald Ford is president, a gallon of gas costs 61 cents, and Happy Days is the most watched show on television. It's also the year Democrat Ed Markey was first elected to Congress.
Today the world is different, Massachusetts is a different state, but Ed Markey is still the same complacent congressman.
After 37 years representing the Bay State, the congressman finally thinks it’s time for a change—a title change.
Running for John Kerry’s vacated Senate seat, the out-of-touch Congressman Markey soon expects to be addressed as “Senator.” But his opponent, moderate Republican and former Navy SEAL Gabriel Gomez, will battle the incumbent until the end, declaring, “Markey’s dirty campaign is failing to offer anything by old, tired solutions,” and that Markey has, “never had a real job in the real world.”
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With the Senate’s Democratic majority whimpering in the wake of Sen. Lautenberg’s (D-NJ) death and six Democratic senators announcing their retirement next year, this special election, which will be held on June 25th, is a crucial seat for both parties.
But, that’s a problem for Markey, who slides into a comfortable, almost four-decade-long, incumbency, race after race. Elected by the 5th district, which includes affluent areas of greater Boston, Markey has been criticized for failing to represent other areas of the district “where people rely on paychecks rather than trust funds,” says Mass. Republican Howie Carr.
So what’s Markey to do in a real contest—go negative, of course!
Markey’s campaign attempted to shut down Gomez from the beginning. It released an ad comparing Gomez to Osama bin Laden—obviously the result of an incompetent strategist. Considering Gomez served honorably as a Navy SEAL and that the Boston Marathon Bombings occurred in his home state not two weeks prior to the its release, the ad was not kindly received.
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Will Ritter, a spokesman for the Gomez campaign believes, “People in Massachusetts are smart enough to figure out what Ed Markey is trying to do.” In an attempt to sabotage Gomez, Markey has actually awoken the blue state’s sleeping independent voters.
Markey’s campaign, however, stands by the claim that he continues, “Fighting the special interests and making an important difference in Massachusetts.” His slogan is almost comical in that the majority of his donations come from special interests and out-of-state donors, and he doesn’t even bother to interact with his constituents in Mass.
From 1989 to 2012, Markey’s seniority in the House’s Subcommittee on Telecommunications helped him rake in approximately $2.5 million from the communications and electronics industries. Since the beginning of 2013, Markey’s received over $1.5 million from PACS or “dark money” donations toward his Senate campaign.
Markey even allows others to do his fundraising for him. Al Gore, Joe Biden and Vicki Kennedy were all present at a Markey fundraiser on June 11th. Markey, however, was absent due to a “scheduling mix-up.”
The congressman continuously receives criticism for spending significantly more time at his million-dollar home in Chevy Chase, Md. than his Mass. residence, the much smaller Malden house he grew up in. He lists both homes however, as primary residences. According to the Boston Globe, Markey and his staff spent less on travel over the past four years, than any other Mass. congressmen, and is in the bottom 22 percent of U.S. House members who spend time in their home districts.
Malden Mayor Richard Howard said Markey’s ties to the Malden community, “would never be a question.”
But, Malden native Kimberly Norton lamented, “He does parades—that’s it.”
Seeing as Markey’s so comfortable at his home in Chevy Chase, it only makes sense that a majority of his campaign money come from Maryland donors. These donations add up to three times more than donations from his “home” state.
Regardless of Markey’s campaign mistakes and political inaction, his candidacy is supported by several big names.
Sec. of State John Kerry calls Markey, “one of the most experienced and capable legislators” in Washington.
Pres. Obama says Markey has, “a track record you can trust.” Of course, that’s because he votes with Democrats 99 percent of the time.
While Gomez’s goal is to “reboot Congress,” Markey won’t bring anything other than Washington seniority to the Senate. He’s refusing to talk about the real issues facing the U.S. and Massachusetts and is willing to rely on seasoned Democratic voters to check his name on the ballot.
But Gomez wants to focus on fiscal responsibility, entitlement reform, and immigration and condemns Markey for maintaining an, “overbearing, arrogant attitude about D.C.” Gomez wants to, “lock the revolving door between Capitol Hill and K Street,” and champions the fact that he has no experience in Washington.
The year is 2013. The issues are real and results are vital. But will “Senator Markey” really be the solution?