BOSTON - Republican Gabriel Gomez and Democrat Edward Markey made appeals to voters Monday in the final hours before Massachusetts' special election for the U.S. Senate, where turnout is expected to be light, a contrast to the high-profile special election in the state three years ago.
Markey, a longtime congressman who's leading in polls ahead of the election, planned a get-out-the-vote drive Monday throughout the state, greeting supporters in Springfield and Worcester and participating in a business tour of downtown Lawrence before attending a rally in his hometown of Malden.
Gomez, a businessman and former Navy SEAL who's a political newcomer, focused his attention on southeastern Massachusetts. He began his day greeting commuters at a Braintree public transit stop before heading to Plymouth, Hyannis and Brockton. Gomez was also scheduled to hold an election eve rally with former U.S. Sen. Scott Brown in Quincy.
Tuesday's special election is for the seat formerly held by John Kerry, who resigned from the Senate to become U.S. secretary of state.
All indications pointed to what the state's top elections official termed a "very weak" turnout at the polls, thanks in part to the timing of the election and a lack of deep interest in it.
"There just hasn't been the intensity in this race," said Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin, who projected that no more than 1.6 million of the state's 4.
By contrast, about 2.25 million voters cast ballots in the 2010 special election to succeed the late Sen. Edward Kennedy. Brown, a Republican, won that race.
Galvin, a Democrat, said none of the political dynamics in that race appear to have taken shape in this election.
"I'm not going to deliver a political analysis, but it's obvious that some of the factors that were present in 2010 ... the national interest, the effects on the workings of the United States Senate, are simply not present this time," said Galvin.
The date of the election, coming when many people are beginning summer vacation, also could be a factor in keeping turnout low, he said. Temperatures were expected to soar into the 90s in parts of the state Tuesday.
Both campaigns are focused on making sure their supporters get to the polls.
On Sunday, Gomez met with campaign workers in Worcester and vowed to win despite polls showing him trailing Markey, who has welcomed recent high-profile rallies by President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and former President Bill Clinton.
Gomez said the voters he's met with are ready for a change.
"Everywhere we go the enthusiasm is super-hot and I couldn't be more fired up about where we are," Gomez said. "I know our message is resonating throughout the whole state among all the electorate - Democrats, independents, Republicans."
Markey carried much the same message as he spent the day stumping in Lynn, Lowell, Waltham, Worcester and Framingham.
"This is what the first five months have been all about. To get ready for the final three days - to identify the vote and then to get it out on Election Day," Markey said Sunday.
Richard Heos, who is affiliated with the Twelve Visions Party, is also on the ballot.
Gov. Deval Patrick named a former aide, William "Mo" Cowan, to fill Kerry's seat on an interim basis until the special election.