This year’s campaign for the US Senate has offered few surprises. Each candidate has been only too willing to settle into his appointed role: Ed Markey, the reliable veteran congressman who embodies core Democratic principles; and Gabriel Gomez, the charismatic Republican newcomer whose positions on issues are a work in progress. Markey could benefit from a greater willingness to break with Democratic orthodoxies; Gomez could benefit from a few animating issues that help define him.
But these flaws don’t burden the candidates equally. Like a job seeker with a stellar resume who doesn’t entirely dazzle in the interview, Markey nonetheless retains some important selling points. At 66, he’s one of the nation’s most talented legislators, taking on such complex and farsighted tasks as charting national telecommunications policy. While some members of Congress sit back and let others do the heavy lifting of drafting bills, Markey prides himself in being at the forefront of major initiatives. In 2009, he led the House to pass a “cap and trade” bill to make historic reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, a deeply important measure that got bottled up in the Senate. He pushed through new requirements for airline cargo screening. He was the leader in extending daylight-savings time, a deceptively significant move that saved billions of dollars worth of electricity.