Kicking off a final wave of campaign events, the candidates for Tuesday’s US Senate special election tried to excite voters this morning, with Democrat Edward J. Markey making his pitch to senior citizens and Republican Gabriel E. Gomez greeting voters at a Latino-owned diner.
Gomez visited the Swanton Street Diner in Winchester, a town that narrowly voted for Republican Scott Brown in the last two Senate elections, and sat down for an egg sandwich and a fruit plate with El Salvador-born owner Mario Navarro.
Many in the breakfast crowd came specifically to see Gomez and asked him to pose for photos with them.
“We need him so desperately,” said Karen Ann Martino of Sandwich. “And I think he can do it. He can reach across and fix a broken system. We need something new and different.”
“You have to support a guy who’s made it on his own, given the level of service that he has,” added Danny Strange, a Republican from Winchester who dashed over to the diner after his mother handed Gomez her cellphone. “I’ll be voting on Tuesday for sure, for him.”
Gomez, 47, of Cohasset, a son of Colombian immigrants, served both as a Navy pilot and SEAL, then went to Harvard Business School and became a private equity investor.
Despite long odds—a new poll showed Gomez down by 20 points—the political newcomer is banking on his appeal as a fresh face with a remarkable resume to beat Markey, a longtime member of the US House, on Tuesday.
Gomez has emphasized Markey’s longevity in Congress as a negative and this morning focused on his closing message—Markey has already had 37 years in Congress; Gomez is running for a short stint in the Senate to fill out the term of former Senator John F. Kerry.
“I’m just asking for 17 months,” Gomez said. “If they don’t think I’ve done what I said I was going to do, they can vote somebody else in in 17 months.”
Markey, meanwhile, kicked off his day with an event at a housing complex for the elderly in Quincy, where he accepted the endorsement of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare.
As about two dozen seniors looked on, Max Richtman, the president and chief executive of the committee, presented Markey with a pair of red boxing gloves and praised the congressman for opposing cuts in Social Security.
“I want to thank you for voting right for seniors, every time,” Richtman said. “Congressman, I know you’re a fighter.”
Markey’s event was designed to motivate elderly voters, one of the most reliable voting demographics even in low-turnout elections.
“I’m going to be battling for them for the next four days, and then on the Senate floor, I will be battling to protect their families,” Markey declared.
He highlighted his opposition to the chained Consumer Price Index, a proposal supported by Gomez and by President Obama that would change the way cost-of-living adjustments are calculated for Social Security benefits. Obama argues that the change would more accurately reflect the cost of goods. But Markey contends it would cut payments to seniors .
“Chained CPI is to Social Security what a chain saw is to a tree,” he said. “We’re just going to be cutting down the available revenue for seniors to be able to live with dignity.”
Even though the event was the only one Markey is holding in the Boston area today, three days before the election, the Globe was the only media outlet to attend, a reflection of the limited interest in the race.
Secretary of State William F. Galvin has predicted low turnout on Tuesday, but Markey dismissed that forecast by turning to the seniors standing around him and posing a question.
“Are you all going to vote on Tuesday?” he said, to a chorus of cheers. Asserting he has 15,000 volunteers working for him, Markey said, “We’re going go to do our best to have a very high turnout.”
Markey then headed to rallies with supporters in Pittsfield and Springfield. Gomez, who had already appeared in Peabody, went to Gloucester to receive the endorsement of recreational fishermen, then planned to meet with Latino voters in East Boston and hold a campaign rally with veterans in Revere.