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Democrats are pulling out all the stops, but party operatives maintain it’s merely insurance — not an emergency measure.
“We got a bit of a warning shot when Scott Brown got elected. So I don’t think anybody wants to take any chances,” Massachusetts Democratic consultant Jim Spencer said. “In a special election, anything can happen.”
Still, Democrats are laying down some serious cash. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and Senate Majority PAC purchased a combined $1.25 million in TV ads that hit the air last week, tying Gomez to national Republicans.
The League of Conservation Voters, which spent nearly $850,000 on a field program for Markey in the primary, announced last week that it spent some $400,000 on direct mail to reach 150,000 households in the state. NextGen Committee, a super PAC founded by billionaire Tom Steyer, is also spending six figures on a field and social-media campaign.
“Democrats are very worried or they wouldn’t be spending that money. It’s that simple,” said Republican media consultant Erik Potholm, a Maine native. “Wouldn’t Democrats rather save that money for the 2014 elections? Of course they would.”
Markey and Gomez were scheduled to debate Tuesday night. At the same time, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and former Vice President Al Gore were scheduled to headline a fundraiser in Washington, D.C., for Markey. First lady Michelle Obama did the same for Markey in Boston on May 29.
Markey packed last weekend with stump partners including Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, Democratic Caucus Chairman Xavier Becerra of California and Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy III of Massachusetts.
“Democrats are taking nothing for granted,” DSCC spokesman Matt Canter said. “We’re going to do whatever we need to do to make sure we’re successful in this race.”
Gomez has downplayed his ties to the national party. The only national Republican to stump for him was Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., a fellow Navy veteran who twice won the Republican presidential primary in neighboring New Hampshire.
But Gomez has received help in coordinated TV ad buys.
The Markey campaign has outspent the Gomez campaign on TV about 2-to-1, according to a GOP source tracking ad buys. Markey spent about $2.7 million for TV time between May 8 and June 15, while Gomez spent a little more than $1.3 million.
About $800,000 of Gomez’s TV spending was paid for by the state Republican Party. The National Republican Senatorial Committee has not commented on whether it transferred that money, but the state party had less than half that in cash on hand as of April 30.
“From day one we’ve made clear that the NRSC believes Gomez can win and have acted accordingly,” NRSC spokesman Brad Dayspring said.