, Newburyport, MA

June 28, 2013

Reflections on the Senate election

Bill Plante's North Shore
Newburyport Daily News

---- — It is a very warm Wednesday of the last week in June of the year 2013 as I write this.

Following are some thoughts while the air conditioner kicks in.

Tuesday was hotter, and I had thought it was likely that voter turnout would be light. It was, statewide, but better than expended in some areas.

I was taken by the outcomes in our local communities as published in this newspaper on Wednesday.

For those who may have missed it, Edward Markey “won” only Newburyport locally, with 2,779 votes to 1,936 for Gabriel Gomez.

Gomez, however, “beat” Markey in this area’s other communities by the following margins: Georgetown, 547, Groveland, 411, Merrimac, 152, Newbury, 98, Rowley 316, Salisbury, 169, West Newbury, 84, and in Amesbury, by only 1 (although poll workers later found one more vote for Markey, making it a tie).

Statewide, of course, Markey won by 20 percent, the winning margin coming mainly from the larger communities as was the case in Newburyport.

All things considered, what was at stake should have brought a better turnout. Given the organizational strength of Massachusetts Democrats, they did what they could give a candidate unaccustomed to campaigning outside his district.

Gomez, totally without political experience, had a very high hill to climb. All things considered, the learning curve took him and his supporters to a promising height.

What’s left unproved by this area’s small example would appear to be that the smaller the communities, the better for Republican candidates, but not by much.

Neither of the candidates was broadly known. Markey, who has spent most of a long political career in Washington, was not known outside his district.

As for Gomez, barely nothing was known about him before he became the Republican candidate with mixed credentials in terms of his stand on issues, and the debates did little to reveal more than his military background.

The seat to be won would be defended at all costs by the Democrats, because of what’s in play in Washington where they hold the majority in only the Senate. With time running on for the next election, every seat is precious.

Small wonder the effect of Markey’s support from two presidents and a vice president.

That is not to suggest that Markey is not up to the task. Thirty-six years in the House of Representatives is no playground for the politically undernourished.

Partisan divisiveness eats at the sinews of our governance. Small wonder that the colored political maps of our disunited states reflect just how divided we have become.

Markey has about six months to begin to assimilate the role he has just won before he either has to resume campaigning for re-election or retires.

Gomez has the prospects for a political career at hand. He started at the top and failed this try, but not without gain.

His personal history is impressive because he learned by doing and succeeded over and again. Having traversed a senatorial testing and failing, he will be much the wiser for what might be.


Bill Plante is a Newbury resident and staff columnist. His e-mail address is