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Markey, Gomez win primaries to square off in Mass. senate race

Elise Amendola / AP

U.S. Senate candidate Ed Markey shakes hands with a supporter in Boston, Tuesday, April 30, 2013 as he celebrates winning the Democratic primary for the special U.S. Senate election.

The race to fill John Kerry's Massachusetts Senate seat is now set with Republican businessman and former Navy SEAL Gabriel Gomez and long-time Democratic Congressman Edward Markey coming out victorious in primaries on Tuesday.

Markey, who has served in the U.S. House since 1976, defeated fellow U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch after an early endorsement from Kerry who vacated the seat to serve as U.S. secretary of state.

Markey will probably enjoy frontrunner status in the traditionally blue state, but at his victory rally Tuesday night, he and Sen. Elizabeth Warren warned supporters not to take anything for granted.

"This election, ladies and gentleman, will not be easy... [Republican interest groups] are ready to move mountains of money to buy this election for big oil, and the NRA and those who want to turn back the clock on women's rights," said Markey. "Mark my words, these outside special interests are going to march right into Massachusetts beginning tomorrow morning." 

Unlike his Democratic challenger, Gomez is new to politics. The son of Colombian immigrants, Gomez became a Navy SEAL and earned an MBA at Harvard that kick started a career in private equity. He raised significantly more money than opponents U.S. Attorney Michael Sullivan and state Rep. Dan Winslow.

Steven Senne / AP

Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate, Gabriel Gomez, center, celebrates with supporters as he makes his way to the stage to address an audience with a victory speech at a watch party, in Cohasset, Mass., Tuesday, April 30, 2013.

In front of a roomful of supporters Tuesday, Gomez previewed what will likely be the main critique of his opponent heading into the June 25 general election. 

"I want to take you back in time. The year was 1976; 37 years ago.  Gerald Ford was president.  Al Gore had not yet invented the Internet ... That was a lifetime ago. Me, I was just playing little league baseball. And that was when Ed Markey first got elected to Congress," Gomez said.

"Congress has enough politicians.  If we keep sending politicians to Washington we will keep getting the same results," he later added.

Gomez has worked hard to brand himself as a new type of Republican, meaning he's moderate on social issues like gay marriage that could help him make inroads in the largely Democratic Bay State.

The campaign will be of the utmost importance to both parties as the Senate prepares to tackle contentious issues like immigration, federal spending and the continued push for increased gun control.

But despite its importance to the makeup of the Senate, the race failed to garner much attention and had slim turnout, the Associated Press reported. The final days of the campaign were overshadowed by the Boston Marathon bombing, and candidates carefully stepped around the sensitivities of mixing politics in the wake of a deadly attack.

In January, Gov. Deval Partick appointed his former chief of staff, William "Mo" Cowan, to fill Kerry's seat until the June special election.