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Markey Stresses Importance Of Voter Turnout At Campaign Stop In Berkshires

Lucas Willard

Massachusetts Congressman Ed Markey kicked off the first leg of his Get Out The Vote efforts on Friday in Pittsfield. Though Markey is ahead in the polls, the Congressman and Berkshire County Democrats are focusing their efforts on turning out supporters in tomorrow’s special election.

Markey has been joined by high-profile guests at his recent campaign stops around Massachusetts including President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and former President Bill Clinton. On a visit to Pittsfield to the headquarters of the Berkshire Brigades, the Berkshire chapter of the state Democratic party, Markey was joined by fellow Democrats Congressman Richard Neal, State Auditor Suzanne Bump, state legislators, and Governor Deval Patrick.

"It's a very simple case. We need to be with Ed Markey because time after time Ed Markey has been with us," said Patrick.

After the introductions, Markey spoke to the crowd of more than 100 supporters echoing themes consistent throughout his campaign against Republican Gabriel Gomez, including his support for bans on assault-style weapons and high-capacity magazines, the need for strengthened reforms on Wall Street, and the preservation of Social Security.

Markey is currently leading Gomez by eight points in a recent poll conducted by Western New England University, and even though he was campaigning in the Democratic stronghold of the Berkshires, Markey said he would not be complacent in the run-up to election day.

"When you look at polling and you think you're comfortable, you're not going to have to do any more work - you are making the biggest mistake you can make," said Markey.

Markey said that he wouldn’t celebrate any lead in the polls until after the votes are in Tuesday night.

"You have to keep on a high level of intensity just to make sure that you maximize the result on election night, and then you can celebrate. Then you can relax," said Markey.

Sheila Murray, chair of the Berkshire Brigades, said that Markey’s stop in Pittsfield, his only visit since winning the Democratic nomination against Congressman Stephen Lynch in April, was essential to energizing supporters, but she said it all comes down one question.

Murray asked, "are they going to vote?"

Because of the expected low voter turnout, Republicans are considering this an opportunity to bring out supporters for Gomez.

Republican State Committeeman for the Berkshire, Franklin, and Hampden District Mike Case previously told WAMC independent voter support is the key to the election.

"Sixty percent of the registered voters in Berkshire County are independents. And the nice thing about Gabriel Gomez is that he is attractive to them," said Case.

Berkshire County GOP chairman Jim Bronson told WAMC that he is hopeful motivated Republicans will turn out to support Gomez, like they did for former Senator Scott Brown in 2010.

"We did it before, Scott was in, and we're hoping to do it again," said Bronson.

But Sheila Murray thinks otherwise.

"That's never going to happen again. We learned a big lesson and we're making sure it's not going to happen again," said Murray.

Lucas Willard is a reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011.
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