WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 07: Edward Markey speaks during a Congressional Briefing on Protecting Children and Teen Online Privacy at the Rayburn House Office Building on March 7, 2012 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Kris Connor/Getty Images)
Massachusetts Democratic Rep. Ed Markey ended Republican hopes for a second Senate upset in the state Tuesday, defeating GOP candidate Gabriel Gomez in a special election.
Markey will take the Senate seat held by John Kerry, who became secretary of State in February.
Gomez was trying to follow in the footsteps of Scott Brown, a Republican who shocked Democrats in 2010 by wining a special election to replace the late Sen. Edward Kennedy.
Markey, 66, has represented the western Boston suburbs in Congress since 1976. Gomez, 47, is a private equity investor and a former Navy SEAL.
"This election is about your hopes, your dreams, your families, your future And I know that. And I'm going to remember that," Markey said in his victory speech. "I do not go (to Washington) to occupy a seat in the Senate. I go there to stand for you ... to seek change that lifts up your families and your future."
Markey not only was a Democrat running in a heavily Democratic state - Massachusetts voted for President Obama 61%-38% - but he also far out-raised and out-spent Gomez: $8.6 million to $2.3 million.
President Obama said he spoke to Markey and added, "Ed has distinguished himself as a leader on many of the key challenges of our time-from fighting carbon pollution to protecting our children from gun violence to creating good, middle-class jobs... The people of Massachusetts can be proud that they have another strong leader fighting for them in the Senate, and people across the country will benefit from Ed's talent and integrity."
Both candidates were supported by outside groups that spent heavily, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Majority PAC spent $1.4 million for Markey and Americans for Progressive Action spent $1.3 million for Gomez.
"In the military you learn one thing, I guess, that not every fight is a fair fight," Gomez said in his concession speech. "Sometimes you face overpowering force. We were massively overspent. We went up against literally the whole national Democratic Party and its allies and the machine. But in the face of this great adversity, we could not have fought a better fight."
Democrats pulled out all the stops to avoid the embarrassment of 2010. A stream of top Democrats campaigned for Markey, including the president, Michelle Obama, Vice President Biden and former president Bill Clinton.
Gomez emphasized his military and business background and tried to stake out moderate Republican positions similar to those that helped Brown succeed in 2010. Brown, who lost his Senate seat to Elizabeth Warren last fall, campaigned with Gomez on Monday.
Markey will have to run again for the seat in 2014. That will be Massachusetts' fourth Senate race in five years, prompting Democratic Party Chairman John Walsh to dub the state "the land of perpetual elections."
That has raised concerns in the state about election fatigue. Secretary of State William Galvin had predicted few voters would go to the polls Tuesday.
He even predicted a turnout rate that would be the lowest participation in Massachusetts for any U.S. Senate election in modern times.
Contributing: Catalina Camia; The Associated Press.
Martha T. Moore, USA TODAY