National Republicans have dispatched staff to Massachusetts to assist with the Senate special election that has become tantalizingly close.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee has committed at least four staffers to help nominee Gabriel Gomez in the final weeks of the June 25 contest. The moves come amid fresh polling that showed Gomez running just behind Democratic Rep. Edward J. Markey in this solidly Democratic state.
Money remains a major hurdle for Gomez to overcome against the well-funded Markey. So the NRSC sent two fundraisers to help Gomez open some financial doors. Sarah Morgan, a regional political director, arrived Wednesday to organize volunteer efforts over the next few weeks. And Kevin McLaughlin, a senior adviser, is in Boston to assist with communications and general strategy.
The NRSC donated $45,400 — the maximum allowable contribution from a national party to a Senate candidate — to the Gomez campaign on April 30, the day he won the GOP primary. But a spokesman would not comment on whether any more funding would be headed Gomez’s way.
“Announcing our strategy to win in Massachusetts is a recipe for defeat, so we’ll leave punditry to the pundits,” NRSC spokesman Brad Dayspring said. “Massachusetts is always an uphill climb, but Gomez is a refreshing candidate who is winning over independents looking for something new in Washington. Navy SEALS can climb mountains and Gomez has a legitimate chance to win the race.”
Polls conducted by firms from both parties in the past two weeks showed Markey ahead by margins ranging from 3 to 7 points.That has yet to entice outside groups from either party to begin any substantial advertising campaigns. However, the Springfield Republican reported Thursday that NextGen Committee, a super PAC, is planning to support Markey through a number of platforms. Given the close margins, more help could be on the way for the four-week sprint following Memorial Day.
(Read Roll Call Contributing Writer Stuart Rothenberg's most recent take on Massachusetts Senate race polling: In Massachusetts Senate PPP Poll, Read the Numbers — Not the Memo).
Two weeks ago, Gomez was mired in negative press surrounding revelations that he benefited significantly from a controversial tax deduction. Since then, Republicans believe Gomez, a former Navy SEAL, has found traction in targeting Markey on national security.
He received some help Monday from Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who joined Gomez on the stump and at a fundraiser. A Gomez spokesman said no other nationally known Republicans are scheduled to join him on the trail.
Along with touting his record in Congress, Markey has slammed Gomez on gun control and for his work on behalf of a special-interest group that criticized President Barack Obama — who won the state in 2012 with 61 percent of the vote — for politicizing the killing of Osama bin Laden.
Gomez launched a new TV ad on Wednesday hitting the 19-term incumbent congressman for running negative ads, while also pitching himself as “something new.”
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee was behind Markey during his primary with fellow Rep. Stephen F. Lynch. The committee regularly helps campaigns staff up, and it encouraged Markey in January to hire Sarah Benzing, a rising star among the party’s political operatives, as campaign manager.
Reached for comment about what kind of assistance the committee will provide Markey, DSCC spokesman Justin Barasky said, “Massachusetts voters have rallied around Ed Markey’s candidacy and so have the DSCC, the DNC and first lady Michelle Obama.”
Although neither is tipping their hand, both national parties could have already spent significant resources on the race. While independent expenditures are filed immediately to the Federal Election Commission, the party committees can quietly funnel money to a race by transferring it to their aligned state parties. That wouldn’t need to be disclosed until June 20, five days before the election.
Gomez is the one who would need the most help. He loaned his campaign $600,000 just to make it through the GOP primary. Meanwhile, Markey went into the final weeks of the April 30 Democratic primary with more than $4.6 million in the bank.