BOSTON (AP) -- Longtime Democratic U.S. Rep. Edward Markey defeated Republican political newcomer Gabriel Gomez in a special election on Tuesday for the state's U.S. Senate seat long held by John Kerry, a race that failed to draw the attention that the state's 2010 special Senate election did.
Markey, 66, won the early backing of Kerry and much of the state's Democratic political establishment, which was set on avoiding a repeat of the stunning loss it suffered three years ago, when Republican state Sen. Scott Brown upset Democratic state Attorney General Martha Coakley in the election to replace the late Democratic Sen. Edward Kennedy.
Gomez, a 47-year-old businessman and former Navy SEAL, positioned himself as a moderate and Washington outsider who would challenge partisan gridlock, contrasting himself with Markey, who was first elected to the U.S. House in 1976.
Markey had an advantage of about 8 percentage points over Gomez with most precincts reporting late Tuesday, according to unofficial returns. He took to Twitter to thank voters after his victory.
"Thank you Massachusetts!" he tweeted. "I am deeply honored for the opportunity to serve you in the United States Senate."
Gomez said he called Markey to congratulate him and wished him "nothing but the best."