Two polls released this week -- one by Public Policy Polling (PPP) and another by WBUR-TV -- show Republican Gabriel Gomez within striking distance of Democrat Ed Markey in next month's special election to fill the Senate seat vacated by John Kerry's appointment as Secretary of State. Gomez, a former Navy SEAL, has targeted Markey as a career Washington politician, the "poster boy for term limits." Reacting to the latest poll, Todd Prussman of the Boston Herald asks, "Are voters in Massachusetts ready again to turn out an establishment Democrat in favor of a moderate, newcomer Republican?"
Polls aren't the only problem for Ed Markey, however. There's also his 36-year record in Congress, and the 66-year-old Democrat's evident willingness to exaggerate his role in telecommunications legislation that Markey is using to claim credit for fostering technological innovation. Many compared Markey to Al Gore -- who notoriously claimed to have invented the Internet -- when the congressman suggested during his March 27 debate with Democrat primary rival Rep. Stephen Lynch that he had helped create Facebook, Twitter and eBay.
Those claims were widely ridiculed at the time, but now Markey has made his "I invented Google" strategy the centerpiece of a new TV ad, While liberals have defended Markey, pointing to his role in promoting the 1992 Cable Act, the key measure that made possible the expansion of broadband Internet access was the Telecommunications Act of 1996. As my ViralRead colleague Ali Akbar's research shows, that bill originated in the Senate, not the House, and Markey's involvement in its passage was insignificant -- Republicans controlled both houses of Congress at the time.
It wasn't as if Newt Gingrich and Bob Dole were relying on Markey's self-declared "leadership" to get votes for what was, in fact, a relatively uncontroversial measure, whose chief critics were left-wingers like Ralph Nader and Markey's Massachusetts colleague Barney Frank.
In a special election two years ago, Scott Brown defeated Martha Coakley to win the Senate seat formerly held by Ted Kennedy, and if Gabriel Gomez can expose Markey as a braggart wrongly trying to take credit for a bill passed by Republican-controlled Congress, there is a chance the young Navy veteran could pull another GOP upset in Massachusetts.
Ed Markey didn't invent Twitter, and his true claim to historic achievement may turn out out be as The Man Who Lost John Kerry's Senate Seat.