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Markey, Gomez Vie For John Kerry's Senate Seat

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Veteran Democratic Rep. Ed Markey, who has been in office for 36 years, and novice Republican Gabriel Gomez will face off in the race to become the next U.S. senator from Massachusetts. They won their party primaries Tuesday in the special election to fill the seat vacated by Secretary of State John Kerry.

Officials say voter turnout was light. The race for the open Senate seat has been overshadowed by the deadly Boston Marathon bombings.

Gomez, 47, catapulted from zero name recognition to an impressive Republican primary win with an impressive story: He's a Latino, first-generation American, a former Navy SEAL, a self-made millionaire investment banker and a Massachusetts moderate Republican.

"If you're looking for a rigid partisan, I'm not your guy," he says.

Gomez says he supported Obama in 2008 and agrees with him on gun control and overhauling immigration.

He defeated a conservative former U.S. attorney and an incumbent state representative.

Gomez argues that the GOP needs another moderate voice, and that Massachusetts needs some new blood.

"The year was 1976: Gerald Ford was president, Al Gore had not yet invented the Internet, eight-track players were big, the first Rocky movie had just debuted. Me? I was just playing Little League baseball, and that was when Ed Markey first got elected to Congress," Gomez says.

For his part, Markey, 66, offers a long list of his legislative accomplishments and cast the race along partisan lines.

"The Republican superPACs see this election as their first shot at stopping President Obama's agenda and gaining control of the U.S. Senate," he says.

Markey, who defeated the more conservative Rep. Stephen Lynch for the nomination, made clear that he'd be running as a liberal Democrat.

"Social Security and Medicare are not entitlements; they were earned by people who spent their entire lives working," he says.

While Markey is favored to win in left-leaning Massachusetts, no one predicted Republican Scott Brown's upset in 2010. And Gomez hopes to do it again in the June 25 special election, saying he isn't a career politician, but he can beat one.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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