And a memo from Guy Cecil, executive director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, said that "the lesson from Scott Brown's accidental win in 2010 was that Democrats must never take a race for granted. Months before Senator John Kerry resigned to become Secretary of State, the DSCC began preparing for a likely special election in Massachusetts."
Markey will succeed William "Mo" Cowan. Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick appointed his former chief of staff to serve as interim senator after Kerry stepped down.
If he wants to stay in the Senate past next year, Markey will need to run for re-election in November 2014, when a full six-year term will be at stake. Gomez has hinted that he'll run again, and minutes after the election was called, some national Republicans already had their eyes on a rematch.
"Today marks the end of the first mile in the marathon to permanently fill the Massachusetts Senate seat. Gabriel Gomez is well prepared to win that marathon over the next 16 months," said Sen. Jerry Moran of Kansas, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, in a statement.
Marked by nastiness
The race between Markey and Gomez was marked by its nastiness, with both candidates leveling charges of hyper-partisanship to try and sway voters in the Bay State. The back-and-forth between the two candidates spanned a laundry list of issues.
Markey demanded Gomez release more of his income tax returns to shed light on a real estate transaction. Gomez suggested Markey wasn't a valid resident of Massachusetts after three decades in Washington.
Gomez called Markey "pond scum" for airing an ad that pictured him alongside Osama bin Laden. And Markey cast doubt on Gomez's past as a private equity investor since his rival wouldn't disclose his list of clients.
The sniping played out in television ads and in three debates, which featured pointed remarks from both candidates.
In the final showdown, a tense moment arose when Gomez challenged Markey on term limits - a policy that would have prevented the 20-term Democrat from remaining in Washington.
Markey countered by asking his Republican rival whether he'd posed the same question to longtime GOP senators like Mitch McConnell and John McCain.
Gomez said he had.
Markey, without explicitly accusing Gomez of lying, expressed deep skepticism.
The exchange got to the heart of the Republican candidate's central takedown of Markey - that the longtime Democratic congressman's roots in Washington disqualify him as a voice for Bay State voters.
"Who are the people going to trust to put people in front of party and politics?" Gomez asked at the start of the debate.
Markey seemed to bristle at the suggestion he's been outside of Massachusetts too long, even going as far as reciting his home address in Malden where he said he's lived for more than six decades.
"The question isn't where you're coming from, it's where you're going," Markey said before launching into his own main takedown of his rival. "Mr. Gomez, he's backing these tired old Republican ideas...That's a reflection of who he's going to be with down in the United States Senate."