A month from now (April 30 to be exact) is Primary Day for Democrats and Republicans in Massachusetts, as five guys vie for the chance to replace John Kerry in the U.S. Senate. The Dem battle is between representatives Edward Markey and Stephen Lynch — a contest being complicated by California billionaire Tom Steyer, who is attacking Lynch, the less liberal of the two, over his support for Keystone pipeline (yesterday a Steyer-funded stunt had a plane flying over Boston, where the Bruins were playing the Canadiens, trailing a banner that read “Steve Lynch says: Go Habs! And Go Canadian Dirty Oil.”).
A new poll by WBUR has Markey leading Lynch 35 percent to 24 percent, with plenty undecided. And the survey revealed this: “Overall voters have a more favorable impression of Lynch.” So if it sounds wide open, it is.
It’s a little clearer on the GOP side, where there are three candidates: Gabriel Gomez, Dan Winslow, and Michael Sullivan. The last of those has a wide lead in the WBUR survey, gathering 28 percent of the vote (Winslow and Gomez, neck-and-neck for last place, trail by a lot, at 10 and 8 percent respectively). Working backward: Gomez is a Naval Academy grad (a former SEAL, now an investor) who earlier this year pleaded with Governor Deval Patrick to appoint him to replace Kerry, earning him a not-too-swell reputation (Michael Graham cites Gomez’s support for Obama in 2008 and describes him as a “pro-Obama, pro-amnesty, pro-gun-control liberal,” while Boston Herald columnist Howie Carr calls Gomez “the Eddie Haskell of the Mass. Republican Party.”). Gomez didn’t vote in the 2008 or 2012 GOP presidential primaries (an interesting position for a guy asking Republicans to vote in a . . . Republican primary). And finally, what opponent wouldn’t cherish this headline: “Massachusetts GOP Senate candidate Gabriel Gomez says he ‘fully supported’ John McCain, after telling Gov. Patrick he supported Barack Obama.”
Winslow is a trial lawyer and a liberal state rep who’s got a thing about giving money to liberal Democrats. And he’s also got a thing about social conservatives. Not a good one: When the Massachusetts Citizens for Life PAC endorsed Sullivan earlier this month, Winslow blurted out that the GOP “deserved to lose” if a social conservative won the primary. So much for the Big Tent.
Sullivan is the clear conservative. He is a former state representative whose impressive pull-yourself-up-by-the-bootstraps bio includes stints as district attorney for Plymouth County, U.S. attorney for Massachusetts (Sullivan’s the guy who put terrorist shoe-bomber Richard Reid away), and acting director for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. As mentioned, he won the pro-life endorsement. And he is putting together a classy campaign. Here’s his new ad:
Advantage, always, goes to the Democrat in the Bay State, and Republicans need plenty of stars to align to have a chance at victory. But neither Markey or Lynch has a lock on their primary or the general election on June 25. Sullivan looks like he has the mojo to prevail over Gomez and Winslow, so conservatives should be thinking about his endgame chances. He certainly satisfies the Buckley Rule by being the “rightwardmost viable candidate,” and folks should take solace from these facts: He has a well-vetted career, is likable, has broad appeal, and has a black belt on law-and-order and safety (he also has a crack campaign team). Sullivan doesn’t have my vote, because I don’t live in Massachusetts, but if I did, I would be spending my every available hour trying to help him. For now, my money will have to do, and it has. I humbly suggest to conservatives: Yours should too. Right here.