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    Senate special election

    Senate candidates make one last pitch for votes

    Gomez-Markey Senate race may draw low turnout

    Former US senator Scott Brown conferred with GOP US Senate candidate Gabriel Gomez during an election eve rally at the Common Market restaurant in Quincy. Edward J. Markey (right) bumped elbows Monday with a customer at a nail salon during a campaign visit to Lawrence.
    Boston Globe Photos
    Former US senator Scott Brown conferred with GOP US Senate candidate Gabriel Gomez during an election eve rally at the Common Market restaurant in Quincy. Edward J. Markey (right) bumped elbows Monday with a customer at a nail salon during a campaign visit to Lawrence.

    QUINCY — Trailing in the polls and facing a forecast of dismal voter turnout, Senate candidate Gabriel E. Gomez made one final push for support at a rally Monday with former US senator Scott Brown, the last Republican to score an upset victory in heavily Democratic Massachusetts.

    “I tell you it’s like déjà vu, seeing the same old cast of characters doing the same old dirty tricks from the Democratic playbook,” Brown told the crowd at the Common Market restaurant.

    Democrat Edward J. Markey, backed by the party’s vaunted political operation to help get supporters to the polls, held his final rally in his hometown of Malden Monday evening, after campaigning in Springfield, Worcester, and Lawrence.


    “We cannot stop,” Markey told a crowd of about 400 outside the Malden YMCA, where temperatures continued to sizzle well past 6 p.m. “The Republicans are coming. We have to make sure we stop them.”

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    Polls released since the April 30 primary have shown Markey, a veteran congressman backed by a large national fund-raising operation, ahead of Gomez, a political newcomer who has struggled to pick up support from national Republicans.

    In the most recent poll, a Suffolk University survey released Monday, Markey held a 10 percentage point advantage over Gomez, 52 percent to 42 percent, with 4 percent undecided.

    At Gomez’s rally Monday evening, Brown, who was making his first appearance with Gomez on the campaign trail, mocked the polls.

    “Apparently, Ed Markey is up like 50, 60 points, and they don’t want you to come out. I guess the election’s over,” Brown said sarcastically.


    “No!” the audience yelled.

    “Is the race over?” Brown asked.

    “No!” the crowd yelled back.

    If Gomez is to pull off a surprise victory Tuesday, he will need to roll up wide margins in conservative-leaning communities on Cape Cod and south of Boston, as well as along Interstate 495, in places such as North Attleborough and Marlborough.

    Massachusetts Republicans have long relied on strong turnout in those areas to help them overcome the lopsided advantage that Democrats command in liberal cities such as Boston.


    “You have to pad your lead to offset the tremendous turnout operation that Democrats have in urban areas,” said Ryan Williams, a GOP consultant who is unafilliated with the Gomez campaign.

    But in an ominous sign for Gomez, Secretary of State William F. Galvin predicted a low turnout for Tuesday’s special election, estimating that just 1.6 million of the state’s 4.3 million voters will show up at the polls.

    That figure would be a sharp drop from the 3.2 million who cast ballots in the November 2012 race between Brown and Democrat Elizabeth Warren and the 2.3 million who voted in the January 2010 special election between Brown and Democrat Martha Coakley.

    “There just hasn’t been an interest in the race,’’ Galvin said at a State House press conference.

    Turnout in a special election is typically lower than in a general election. But this race has seen particularly paltry interest as voters have been distracted by news of the Boston Bruins playing in the Stanley Cup Final, and by the unusual timing of the election, the swoon of late June, when people are not accustomed to focusing on elections.

    Temperatures were forecast to hit the mid-90s again Tuesday, which could also discourage many voters from making a trip to the polls.

    Most analysts agree that for Gomez to overcome Markey’s built-in advantage with the large number of registered Democrats in Massachusetts, he will need about 60 percent of the independent vote, as well as a sizable number of more conservative, blue-collar Democrats.

    The Suffolk poll released Monday indicated that Gomez is leading Markey among independents, but by just 53 percent to 40 percent, not the margin analysts say he needs. In the final Suffolk poll before his 2010 victory over Coakley, Brown had a 65 percent to 30 percent edge among independents.

    Gomez has also sought to expand his appeal to traditional Democratic constituencies, particularly Latinos.

    The son of Colombian-born parents, he has campaigned in Latin restaurants and bakeries and other businesses in East Boston, Jamaica Plain, and Springfield, and he often gives interviews in Spanish to Hispanic media.

    But Markey’s ground operation is pushing back by deploying activists, volunteers, and union members to sweep through those urban areas in the waning hours of the race, knocking on doors and urging his supporters to show up on Tuesday.

    In Lawrence, which has a large Latino population, Markey visited two barbershops, a union gathering, and a flower-and-balloon shop on Monday.

    At Mendez Flowerloons, co-owner Zoa Mendez, 60, presented Markey with a single red rose, which he used as a campaign prop with a crowd from the Service Employees International Union that was gathered outside. The politically potent union has invested heavily in his race.

    “Roses are red, violets are blue, I love the SEIU!” Markey yelled, to applause.

    Later, the congressman, in his rush to praise the shops he was visiting, stated the obvious about a Lawrence barbershop: “This whole business is dependent on people needing haircuts.”

    Gomez’s final day on the campaign trail took him through communities with large numbers of swing voters, including Braintree, Plymouth, Hyannis, and Quincy. At each stop, he projected confidence.

    “They’re predicting this, like, super low turnout,” he told about 30 supporters and patrons at George’s Cafe in Brockton.

    “I’ll tell you what: I think our side is going to turn out big.”

    Jim O’Sullivan of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Michael Levenson can be reached at mlevenson@
    . Follow him on Twitter @mlevenson.