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Off to the race: It's Markey vs. Gomez

Cruz control? Robert Costa reports: “Freshman senator Ted Cruz is considering a presidential run, according to his friends and confidants.”

An FDU-Public Mind poll finds Hillary Clinton way ahead of any Democrats with 63%, followed by Vice President Joe Biden with 12%.

Marco Rubio leads a closer GOP field with 18%, followed by Jeb Bush 16%, Chris Christie 14%, Rick Santorum 9%.

ALASKA: A Sarah Palin comeback? The L.A. Times: “Sarah Palin’s last elective position in Alaska ended early when in 2009 she abandoned the governorship midway through her first term. But tea party activists appear eager for a comeback, urging supporters to contribute money toward recruiting Palin to run for the U.S. Senate in her home state, where, according to an email sent out this week, she has a ‘clear path’ to defeat incumbent Democrat Mark Begich.”

But: “If Palin is enthusiastic about running for the Senate in Alaska, she hasn’t said so. Nor has her popularity in Alaska endured to the degree that it has on the national stage since her nomination to the GOP presidential ticket in 2008 and subsequent years as a conservative media celebrity.”

MASSACHUSETTS: NBC’s Andrew Rafferty: “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 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.”

The Boston Globe asks, “Will he be the next Scott Brown? Gabriel E. Gomez, a 47-year-old son of immigrants who became a Navy pilot and SEAL before becoming a private equity investor, won the Republican nomination tonight for the US Senate special election to replace John F. Kerry, bringing a fresh face to a race that had drawn scant interest from an electorate distracted by the Boston Marathon bombings.”

The National Republican Senatorial Committee is out with a new video, complete with disco music, mocking Rep. Ed Markey's near-40-year tenure.  It even depicts him John Travolta-like in a shiny disco outfit, shirt open, hairy chest revealed. And it’s launching a site called, “OutofDateEd.com.” (The first policy hit in the video is that Markey voted to raise the debt limit. The NRSC will hit Markey later this morning for his suburban, D.C., residence, calling him a “creature of Washington: He Owns A $1.3 Million Home In Chevy Chase, Maryland, One Of DC’s Most Posh Suburbs (ranked 112th most expensive zip code by Forbes). In fact, Markey’s Chevy Chase home was listed as his primary residence by Montgomery County until 2002.”

But National Journal’s Kevin Brennan throws some cold water on all the Gomez buzz and notes he has vulnerabilities of his own, including being the spokesman for an anti-Obama Navy Seal group accusing the president of trying to politically capitalize on the death of Osama bin Laden. The White House derided it as a Swift Boat effort.

Brennan answers this question: “Is Republican Gabriel Gomez the next Scott Brown? The short answer: Probably not…. A confluence of three forces -- a surprisingly strong GOP nominee, a lackluster Democratic campaign and a terrible political environment for Democrats -- allowed Brown to become Massachusetts' first Republican senator in more than 30 years. With that loss still fresh in Democratic minds, the likelihood of those three factors being replicated by Gomez are slim. As Massachusetts conservative radio host Michael Graham told National Review last week, "Scott Brown can't even be Scott Brown."

Markey, who happened to win the Democratic primary with more than three times the votes Gomez got, is treated as a “meanwhile.” The Globe: “Meanwhile, veteran US Representative Edward J. Markey beat fellow Representative Stephen F. Lynch in the race for the Democratic nod in the traditionally blue state.”

For a little more perspective on this race, this is still Massachusetts. Markey got almost double the votes cast in the entire Republican contest. Lynch, for his part, got more votes than the entire GOP field combined. For all the attention Gomez is getting, he got less than a third the votes Markey did and less than half the votes Lynch did.

As AP writes, “National Republicans cheered former Navy SEAL Gabriel Gomez’s Massachusetts primary victory, but Democratic Congressman Ed Markey enjoys tremendous advantages in the special election to replace former U.S. Sen. John Kerry.”

VIRGINIA: NBC’s Michael O’Brien: “Republican Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell denied any wrongdoing in his business dealings with a family friend and donor, saying Tuesday that an FBI probe into that relationship does not impair his ability to serve as governor.”