Biden on Mass. Senate race: No ‘automatic’ minority turnout without Obama on ticket

Alexis Levinson Political Reporter
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As Rep. Ed Markey debated his Republican opponent for Senate Gabriel Gomez in Massachusetts Tuesday night, Vice President Joe Biden extolled Democratic congressman’s virtues at a fundraiser in D.C.

“This is an off-year, off-cycle, off-month election. He needs every solitary bit of financial help you can give to carry this home. Please, don’t be asking yourself two months from now, ‘God why didn’t I do more?’” Biden said at a fundraiser, according to a pool report by the Boston Globe’s Matt Viser. He shared the stage with former Vice President Al Gore.

Democrats are pulling out all the stops to help Markey to victory in the special election to fill the empty Massachusetts Senate seat vacated by now-Secretary of State John Kerry. In the last Massachusetts special election in 2010, former Republican Sen. Scott Brown pulled off a huge upset to win in the deep blue state. And this time around, Democrats are taking no chances.

First lady Michelle Obama travelled to Massachusetts to campaign with Markey two weeks ago, and President Barack Obama will stump with him on Wednesday.

Biden expressed concern that those big guns might really be necessary to help Markey to a win.

“There’s a big difference in this race: Barack Obama’s not at the head of the ticket,” Biden said. “And that means those legions of African Americans and Latinos are not automatically going to come out. No one has energized them like Barack Obama. But he’s not on the ticket. So don’t take this one for granted.”

Gomez, Markey’s opponent, is the son of Colombian immigrants, and he has made that personal story a fixture in his campaign. In Wednesday evening’s debate, Gomez switched between Spanish and English at times.

Biden cautioned that, with important votes coming up in the Senate, having a Democrat in Kerry’s old seat was crucial.

“It’s a pretty simple proposition: The United States of America, and the state of Massachusetts, does not need another Republican in the Senate. I’m being straight about this. This is not your father’s Republican Party. It really is a fundamentally different party. There’s never been as much distance, at least since I’ve been alive, distance between where the mainstream of the Republican congressional party is and the Democratic Party is. It’s a chasm. It’s a gigantic chasm,” Biden said.

“I’m not talking about the character or even the quality of the minds of the people I’m going to mention. But the last thing in the world we need now is someone who will go down to the United States Senate and support Ted Cruz, support the new senator from Kentucky — or the old senator from Kentucky,” the vice president continued.

Biden said Cruz and Sen. Rand Paul, the junior Senator from Kentucky, exerted an undue influence over their colleagues, which Markey could help check.

“Think about this,” he said. “Have you ever seen a time when two freshman senators are able to cower the bulk of the Republican Party in the Senate? That is not hyperbole.”

According to the pool report, the fundraiser netted approximately $250,000. The special election is June 25.

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Alexis Levinson