No surprise, Martha’s Vineyard chooses Markey in Senate race

No surprise, Martha’s Vineyard chooses Markey in Senate race

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A small percentage of Martha's Vineyard voters went to the polls Tuesday. This ballot box in Oak Bluffs saw little action. — Photo by Ralph Stewart

Aquinnah Chilmark Edgartown Oak Bluffs Tisbury West Tisbury Island Total State Total

U.S. Senator

Democratic Party

Edward J. Markey

105

255

555

726

660

644

4,991

642,988 (55%)

Republican Party

Gabriel E. Gomez

21

79

368

395

271

189

1,323

525,080 (45%)

Massachusetts voters elected Congressman Edward J. Markey, a career politician, over Republican newcomer Gabriel E. Gomez, a businessman and former Navy SEAL, in a special election Tuesday to fill the United States Senate seat left vacant when John Kerry resigned to become Secretary of State.

Vineyarders marched in step with mainland voters, helping Mr. Markey, 66, to victory by a margin of almost four to one.

The outcome was no surprise to experienced political watchers. Pollsters had Mr. Markey leading throughout the campaign.

Perhaps mindful of Republican Scott Brown’s upset victory in January 2010, in a special election, Democrats brought millions of dollars and star power to bear on the election. Former President Bill Clinton, President Barack Obama, and Vice President Joe Biden campaigned on behalf of Mr. Markey.

As of Friday, the Democrats had invested $5.2 million in television advertising compared to $3 million on the Republican side, according to the Smart Media Group, which tracks political advertising.

The Cape Cod Times reported that Mr. Markey spent more than $8.6 million on the race through the end of the last reporting period June 5, compared with $2.3 million by Mr. Gomez, according to Federal Election Commission records.

Despite a compelling personal story, political pundits generally agreed that Mr. Gomez, 47, ran a lackluster campaign and failed to connect with voters on a personal level.

Mr. Markey’s term expires on January 3, 2015.

At the polls

Massachusetts voters are accustomed to November weather. Tuesday was hot and humid and more likely to send voters to the beach instead of the polls.

In Edgartown, constable Scott Ellis was surprised. “I’m noticing a fairly higher turnout than expected, but still low compared to the number voters we have in town,” he said.

“I voted for Ed Markey,” Fred Rovin said as he left the polls. “I think he’s the most qualified to do the job, and he votes with a lot of the same thinking that I have.”

“Go Gabriel,” Richard Stone told The Times, as he walked into Edgartown Town Hall.

What did West Tisbury voters think of the tone of the election?

Robin Hyde said political candidates never really address all the issues. Mr. Hyde said even though some people think Democratic candidate Ed Markey has “the Vineyard sewn up, you still have to go out and vote.”

Bob and Shauna Nute said they have voted on the Vineyard for 40 years or so. Mr. Nute said he was disappointed not more people showed up to vote Tuesday. “It’s a one-party state, probably a one-party nation,” Mr. Nute said. “It’s not healthy.”

One voter who declined to be identified said, “I voted, and that’s what means something.”

Few did civic duty

Voter apathy was reflected in the percentage of registered Island voters who took the time to cast a vote for Mr. Markey, Mr. Gomez, or Independent Richard Heos.

Of Aquinnah’s 370 registered voters, 126, or 35 percent of the electorate, voted Tuesday.

In Chilmark, 334 voters, or 36 percent of the town’s 919 voters, turned out.

Of West Tisbury’s 2,431 voters a total of 836, 34 percent of the electorate, voted.

In Tisbury, 931 voters, 30 percent of the town’s 3,116 registered voters, turned out.

In Edgartown, 924 voters, just 29 percent of the town’s 3,563 voters went to the polls.

In Oak Bluffs, 1,127, 32 percent of the town’s 3,563 voters, turned out.