He’s drawn sharp distinctions between his positions and those of Gomez on gun control, health care, abortion rights, the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline and corporate tax policies — in each case casting Gomez as aligned with conservative Republicans.
Markey also has enlisted his party’s heavy hitters, including President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and former President Bill Clinton.
Recently, Obama traveled to Boston to give Markey a full-throated endorsement.
“Here in Massachusetts, you have a long history of sending smart, tough, hardworking leaders to the Senate,” Obama said. “Nobody is better suited to carry on that legacy than Ed Markey.”
Markey, who introduced Obama, again portrayed Gomez as beholden to his party.
“My opponent says he is a new kind of Republican, but he backs the oldest, stalest Republican ideas from the past,” Markey said.
Casting himself in a long line of Massachusetts Democrats is a natural instinct for Markey, an Irish Catholic kid from Malden who grew up in the 1960s enthralled with the rise of President John F. Kennedy.
“People said he could not win that because he was Irish and Catholic and from Boston,” Markey said in an interview. “That was a very powerful message that said Irish Catholics were not fully accepted in the country.”
Kennedy’s win “not only inspired me but inspired a whole generation to think of public service,” Markey added.
Markey came from humble roots. His father drove a truck for the Hood Milk Co. Markey attended Malden Catholic High School and helped pay his way through Boston College by driving an ice cream truck. He was the first in his family to graduate from college.
While still in law school, Markey was elected to the Massachusetts House in 1972.
When he bucked the powerful Democratic House speaker by pushing through a bill abolishing a system that allowed Massachusetts judges to maintain private law practices, he found his desk reassigned to a hallway.