By a ten-point margin, Massachusetts voters elected Rep. Ed Markey (D) to fill the remainder of Secretary of State John Kerry’s Senate term on Tuesday. Markey’s comfortable win came after a campaign in which he championed environmental protection, gun violence prevention, and clean elections.
Markey, who chaired the House Select Committee on Energy Independence & Global Warming from 2007 to 2010, made addressing climate change a key focal point of his campaign. He spoke out against construction of the Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline. His opponent, private equity investor Republican Gabriel Gomez, called himself a “green Republican” but dismissed most climate change action as “not rational” and refused to identify any proposals he supported other than supporting building the environmentally risky Keystone pipeline. He also refused to comment on his own extensive fossil fuel holdings.
Markey also focused heavily on gun violence prevention. His first campaign ad was a direct attack on the gun lobby in general and the National Rifle Association in particular. Beyond just vowing to support tougher gun laws and to “keep standing up to the gun lobby,” Markey repeatedly contrasted his positions with those of Gomez: opposition to assault weapons bans and to restrictions on high-capacity magazines. While Gomez had previously promised to support President Obama’s gun violence prevention efforts, he backed off everything but background checks as a Senate candidate.
Finally, Markey made campaign finance reform a major part of his campaign. On multiple occasions, he proposed a “People’s Pledge” to keep outside groups from spending millions on attack ads — similar to the agreement signed in 2012 by then-Sen. Scott Brown (R) and now-Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D). Gomez rebuffed these offers and defended the Supreme Court’s 5–4 Citzens United ruling that spurred the proliferation of outside spending as “just free speech.” Ironically, outside group spending favored Markey in the race — a reality about which Gomez complained in his Tuesday night concession speech.