The Massachusetts special election to replace former Sen. John Kerry, now Secretary of State, is turning out to be a heavyweight versus a welterweight match-up, judging by the campaign trail.
Longtime Democratic Rep. Ed Markey has benefited from an extensive list of top Democrats stumping on his behalf in the liberal leaning Bay State, from Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., to Bill Clinton to first lady Michelle Obama. President Barack Obama even held a rally in racially diverse Roxbury Crossing to help boost minority voter turnout and Vice President Joe Biden is scheduled to campaign with Markey Saturday.
Meanwhile, Republican Gabriel Gomez – the businessman and former Navy SEAL running against Markey – has largely walked the trail without high-profile help. In fact, the only time Gomez will appear alongside still popular former Sen. Scott Brown is for a Monday night rally on the eve of the election.
"They don't want it to be close – they want to blow this guy out of the water," Ray La Raja, a political science professor at the University of Massachusetts, says of Democrats. "They want to take no chances. The money was there, totally overwhelming on Markey's side, the presence of national figures. They want to make sure voters turn out to increase the margins."
Both Gomez and Markey have full campaign schedules, criss-crossing the state on the final weekend of campaigning.
La Raja says Brown, much like national Republicans who have only tacitly spent in the race, want to avoid being tainted by a losing campaign.
"Brown is being very cautious - he's got to balance still being thought of as good in the Republican Party circles in Massachusetts, but he sees this as a ship that's going nowhere," he says. "Gomez has run a decent campaign for a neophyte and he ended up performing pretty well all things considered, but the structural things are against him. At this point, it's not going to make any difference that Brown is appearing with him."
Massachusetts Democrats have been upfront about the fact that they are still stung by the defeat they had in a 2010 special election, when Brown won a surprise victory over Democrat Martha Coakley. They are working overtime to avoid a repeat performance and they are right to not take anything for granted in a low turnout election, La Raja says.
"There's a small, small chance that Gomez could win because we don't know who's going to show up," he adds. "[Democrats] don't want to be embarrassed again. Martha Coakley was embarrassing for the state and national party."
Though a Republican private poll leaked to the press showed Gomez only down three points, a Boston Globe poll shows Markey up by 11 points.
The election is scheduled for Tuesday.