President Barack Obama's campaign visit to Boston Wednesday is just more proof that Democrats in Massachusetts are taking no chances in the special election to fill a Senate seat vacated by now-Secretary of State John Kerry.
U.S. Rep. Ed Markey, a 30-year congressional veteran, continues to lead Republican newcomer Gabriel Gomez, a businessman and former Navy SEAL, by a polling average of about 9 percent, according to RealClearPolitics.
But Democrats remember well a 2010 special election in which Scott Brown, then an unremarkable Republican state legislator, rocketed past Attorney General Martha Coakley, a Democrat, to snatch Ted Kennedy's seat for the GOP. Brown lost the seat in 2012 in a duel with liberal economic champion Elizabeth Warren, but there's no doubt the 2010 victory made its mark in the Bay State political sphere.
Obama is scheduled to speak in the early afternoon at the Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center in Roxbury Crossing, an area populated by many blacks and Hispanics, in a move to boost the minority vote for the June 25 special election. Gomez, who is Hispanic, has sought to capitalize on his roots and launched a "Latinos for Gomez" effort.
"Year after year the vote of the Hispanic community is taken for granted, as have been so many in our community," Gomez said in a bilingual release. "The time has come to bring new ideas to Washington to help shape a better future for the next generation of Americans and assure that their dreams can come true. I am a new kind of Republican, I support immigration reform."
Vice President Joe Biden, who spoke at a Markey fundraising event Tuesday night in Boston, noted the importance of the minority vote in the contest.
"Barack Obama's not at the head of the ticket and that means those legions of African-Americans and Latinos are not automatically going to come out," Biden said, according to a pool report of his remarks. "No one has energized them like Barack Obama. But he's not on the ticket. So don't take this one for granted."
Markey has been painted by Gomez as an out-of-touch Washington politician, while the Democrat has attacked Gomez for supporting national Republican policies that don't match up with the will of a majority of Massachusetts voters.
Identifying and motivating voters will be critical and challenging for both sides, as they are competing for attention with the onset of summer weather, the end of the school year and the Boston Bruins in the Stanley Cup finals.