CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) - Tuesday's special Senate primary vote failed to capture the same attention as the special election that followed the death of Senator Ted Kennedy in 2009, and voter turnout was light compared to the race between Scott Brown and Elizabeth Warren in November.
But Springfield political consultant Tony Cignoli says that the quiet mood of the race could turn around very quickly.
In an interview on 22News Wednesday morning, Cignoli said that the matchup between longtime Congressman Edward Markey and political newcomer Gabriel Gomez makes the competition much more interesting.
"Now we've got a race," Cignoli said, explaining that the former Navy SEAL's political inexperience and compelling personal story would provide a major contrast with Markey's years of experience in Washington. Experience could be an issue for either candidate, with Markey possibly being able to cite his existing clout on Capitol Hill as an advantage, and Gomez countering with the idea that it is longtime politicians that created the problems that exist in government.
Gomez's life story could also make the race more high-profile. Fluent in Spanish, Gomez is the son of Colombian immigrants. Republican leaders have been hoping to attract more Latino voters, particularly since Latinos voted so heavily for President Obama over GOP nominee Mitt Romney in the 2012 election.
Markey has many advantages going into the race, including name recognition and well-known stances on many major issues. He also has the advantage of being the Democratic Party nominee in a Democrat-dominated state. Still, Republican Scott Brown won a major upset in a special U.S. Senate election just three years ago, and Cignoli says that Gomez is the candidate that the Democrats least wanted to face in the June 25 special election.
"There's no question that a lot of Democratic consultants, the Markey campaign, and even the Lynch campaign, had their greatest fear realized last night on the Republican side here," Cignoli said.
One thing that will play a major role in the race is money.
"We all know that Ed Markey can raise money from across the nation, especially from environmental donors, folks in the environmental movement. I think what we're watching now is to see if like when Scott Brown made it to his primary, his first primary, and was ready for that matchup with Martha Coakley, will there be Republicans across America who will say: ‘here's an opportunity, let me write a check,'" Cignoli said.