Republican candidate Gabriel Gomez

Given the strong Democratic leanings of Massachusetts the special election to replace Sen. John Kerry should be a cakewalk for Democratic candidate Ed Markey, yet a new Public Policy Polling survey shows the race is within single digits. Republican candidate Gabriel Gomez is only four points behind Markey. From PPP:

PPP’s first poll of the general election in the Massachusetts Senate special finds a close race, with Ed Markey leading Gabriel Gomez by a 44-40 margin.

Gomez is starting out as a pretty popular candidate, with 41% of voters rating him favorably to 27% with an unfavorable opinion. Beyond having good numbers with Republicans he’s at 42/24 with independents, and actually seen narrowly positively even by Democrats at 33/32. Voters meanwhile are more divided on Markey, with 44% holding a positive view of him to 41% with a negative one. He’s at 31/50 with independents.

Gomez is a fairly good Republican candidate for such a Democratic state. He has a good personal story and he actually beat the more conservative Republicans in the primary by running as a moderate problem solver. Gomez has also never run for office before. While inexperience can cause problems on the trail it does mean Gomez doesn’t have a record of past conservative positions to defend.

It is still early in the special election with the primary having only taken place this week. This is a good chance Gomez will see his support fade now that the Democratic machine focuses on him. For now the Democrats are going to at least need to take Gomez seriously.

The special election will take place June 25th.