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Suffolk poll: US Rep. Markey 7 points up

Gomez gaining ground as campaign heads to June 25 special election

Howard Manly

U.S. Representative Ed Markey holds a modest seven percent lead over Republican challenger Gabriel Gomez as the campaign to fill the U.S. Senate seat left vacant by John Kerry heads to its final two weeks.

According to a poll released on Monday by Suffolk University, Markey had the backing of 48 percent of voters compared with 41 percent for Gomez.

The poll numbers are not all good news for the Democratic hopeful — Gomez is clearly gaining on him. A month ago, Markey had a 17 percent lead over Gomez, a Suffolk University poll showed.

“Ed Markey continues to lead but the margin has dwindled,” said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center in Boston.

The poll of 500 voters had a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points and was conducted June 6 through June 9. The special election is on June 25.

Part of the problem with Markey’s dwindling numbers are the several controversies plaguing the Obama administration, including recent stories on alleged privacy violations, the Suffolk poll stated.

“Clearly voters do not want the investigative powers of the federal government to run rampant,” said Paleologos. “Through no fault of Markey, the remaining undecideds in the Senate race are equally polarized on this issue and the fallout may be hurting the congressman. The normally solid terrain that a statewide Democrat traditionally enjoys in Massachusetts has become a little muddy and if these privacy issues continue, that footing could cause Markey to sink further.”

To shore up the state’s Democratic base, President Barack Obama was scheduled to make a campaign stump for Markey at Roxbury Community College on Wednesday.

A wealthy businessman and political newcomer, Gomez, 47, is a former Navy Seal and the state’s first Latino candidate for U.S. Senate. Republicans are hoping that Gomez can score an upset similar to the one in 2010 by former Senator Scott Brown over Attorney General Martha Coakley in the campaign to fill the seat left vacant by Edward Kennedy. Brown became a Republican sensation but was later defeated by Elizabeth Warren.

As the senior member of the all-Democratic congressional delegation, Markey, 66, was first elected in 1976 and is poised to take advantage of the seemingly insurmountable numbers that Democrats hold over Republicans in one of the nation’s bluest states.