Not Another Coakley Campaign

After yesterday’s micro-turnout special primary election, Massachusetts voters will now choose between long-time Democratic congressman Ed Markey and unknown Republican former SEAL and private equity investor Gabriel Gomez in a special general election seven weeks from yesterday.

If the Boston Globe‘s coverage of this race is any indication, there’s a powerful desire to turn Gomez into Scott Brown and this election into a rerun of the 2010 special election to succeed Ted Kennedy.

Gomez has said he wants to “reboot” Congress with a pay freeze, term limits, and a lifetime ban on lobbying. A social moderate and fiscal conservative, he has a compelling personal story as the son of Colombian immigrants who grew up to be a Navy pilot and SEAL and went to Harvard Business School before going into business.

Gomez’s only previous political experience was the run for selectman in Cohasset, in which he came in third out of three candidates.

While he’s likely to face an uphill battle in traditionally Democratic Massachusetts, so did Brown, who was a little-known state lawmaker from Wrentham when he beat Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley in the January 2010 special election to fill the seat left vacant by the death of long-time liberal senator Edward M. Kennedy.

Gomez may or may not be another Scott Brown, but the real question in Massachusetts is whether Ed Markey’s campaign will resemble Martha Coakley’s, by general assent one of the worst statewide campaigns in living memory, anywhere, suffering from strategic problems, scheduling problems, media problems, candidate-gaffe problems, and money problems. The Markey campaign will benefit from knowledge of the mistakes of 2010. So it may not matter how much Gomez winds up resembling Brown, who got every imaginable break, including the element of surprise. You never know for sure, but this is one case where lightning is very unlikely to strike twice.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.