By Alexandra Jaffe - 06/18/13 11:44 PM EDT
Rep. Edward Markey has leaned on nearly every big-name Democrat — President Obama, former President Clinton and Vice President Biden among them — to help him cement a win in next week’s Massachusetts Senate election. [WATCH VIDEO]
But one of the biggest question marks looming over the campaign in its final days is whether Republican Gabriel Gomez will get his own boost from a high-profile GOP closer, like New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie or former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown.
The most recent Suffolk poll found Markey holding a single-digit lead over Gomez, a private-equity executive and former Navy SEAL who has distanced himself from national Republicans.
Gomez’s posture as a Republican outsider has limited his ability to lean heavily on the national party to help close the gap on Markey, who has called in favors from some of the biggest guns in the Democratic party.
In the past week, Obama, Clinton, Biden and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) have all stumped for Markey.
The lone remaining Democratic heavy-hitter who could boost Markey’s campaign — potential 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton — apparently won’t be joining the parade.
A spokesman for the former secretary of State told The Hill no visit to Massachusetts was in the works before the June 25 special election.
The most recent independent poll of the race, by The Boston Globe, found Gomez trailing by 13 points, suggesting the high-profile Democratic appearances have aided Markey.
In contrast to the Democrats, the biggest GOP names who’ve appeared on behalf of Gomez have been Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Republicans with a reputation for independence.
Will Ritter, a spokesman for Gomez, defended the Republican’s lack of political stars as a “different strategy,” one focused on putting “people before politics.”
“Markey is bringing up D.C. names to give speeches. Gomez is speaking for himself, hosting town halls and hitting the ground hard shaking hands and talking to voters. [There is no] better way to underscore his message of putting people before politics,” Ritter said.
To help that message stick, some Republicans believe Gomez could benefit from having a centrist Republican star hit the trail with him in the campaign’s closing days.
Republicans named three prominent GOP politicians who are popular and politically safe enough for Gomez to lean on: Sen. Kelly Ayotte (N.H.), Christie and Brown, the man whose 2010 upset Senate win in Massachusetts still haunts Democrats.
Ayotte will issue an email plea for New Hampshire Republicans to head down to Massachusetts to help Gomez, but it’s unclear whether she will visit the state herself.
A Christie visit would be mutually beneficial for both him and Gomez.
The New Jersey governor would get valuable face time in the Boston media market, which bleeds over into New Hampshire. Exposure there could be integral to a 2016 presidential bid.
Gomez, in turn, would gain increased media attention and excitement over a popular sitting governor who has honed the stumping skills the less-polished hopeful occasionally seems to lack.
There’s no indication, however, that Christie has been asked or has plans to visit the state.
Brown would likely offer the strongest, most sustained boost for Gomez in the final days.
Gomez worked to distance himself from Brown early in the campaign, fearful that the association would open him up to the same attacks that sunk Brown in 2012: his connection to the national GOP.
Brown has said he’s done everything asked of him for Gomez, offering him counsel and fundraising help.
When asked whether Brown could hit the trail in the coming week, Gomez aides say only: “Stay tuned.”
Peter Ubertaccio, a political science professor at Stonehill College, said Brown’s appearance in the state could sway some voters because he maintains residual support from his time in the Senate.
Brown left office personally popular among voters and remains one of the few prominent Massachusetts Republicans with a strong reputation in both parties.
“He has an organization that he could whip into action. If he were out there aggressively touring the state with Gomez, putting some muscle into it, getting his people whipped up, he could help Gomez at the margins,” Ubertaccio said.
The recent Boston Globe poll showed Markey taking 18 percent of Brown voters.
That’s a troubling number for Gomez, who has had trouble hitting the 55 percent to 60 percent support among independents he’ll need to outweigh the Democratic registration advantage in Massachusetts.
Rob Willington, a former Brown campaign staffer, said Gomez could benefit from appearing alongside the former senator, who campaigned on a message of independence in 2010 and 2012.
“I think he’d be able to remind voters that the candidate that he’s stumping for, Gabe Gomez, who’s also an independent-minded thinking person, wouldn’t go along with the party just because that’s what everyone else is doing in Washington,” he said.
Willington saw a surge in the final three or four days of Brown’s improbable 2010 campaign, when small-dollar donations began to come in waves and media attention increased.
He said Gomez could still experience a similar surge.
But asked what Gomez himself could do to produce a win in the final days, Willington drew a blank.
“It’s not like there’s a silver bullet,” he said.