(USA Today) -- Massachusetts Democrat Rep. Ed Markey ended Republican hopes for a second blue-state Senate upset Tuesday, defeating GOP candidate Gabriel Gomez in a special election.
Markey, 66, has represented the western Boston suburbs in Congress since 1976.
Not only was Markey a Democrat running in a heavily Democratic state - Massachusetts voted for President Obama 61%-38% -- but he far outraised and outspent Gomez: $8.6 million to $2.3 million.
Unlike the high-proflie 2012 race between then Sen. Scott Brown and Elizabeth Warren, in which the candidates agreed to ban outside spending, both candidates were supported by outside groups that spent heavily, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Majority PAC spent $1.4 million for Markey and Americans for Progressive Action spent $1.3 million for Gomez.
A stream of top Democrats campaigned for Markey, including President Obama, Michelle Obama, Vice President Biden and former President Bill Clinton.
Democrats pulled all the stops to avoid the embarrassment of 2010, when Republican newcomer Brown won a Senate special election after the death of Democrat Edward Kennedy. Democrats vowed to improve their get-out-the-vote operation.
Gomez emphasized his background as a Navy SEAL and a private equity investor and tried to stake out moderate Republican positions similar to those that helped Brown succeed in 2010. Brown, who lost his Senate seat to Elizabeth Warren last fall, campaigned with Gomez on Monday.
Markey takes the seat formerly held by John Kerry -- who was appointed Secretary of State in January -- but he will have to defend it in 2014. That will be Massachusetts fourth Senate race in five years, leading Democratic chairman John Walsh to dub the state "the land of perpetual elections."
That has raised concerns in the state about election fatigue. Secretary of State William Galvin had predicted that few voters would go to the polls: turnout was anticipated to be 1.6 million of the state's 4.3 million voters.
That would be a turnout rate of 37%, which Galvin said would be the lowest participation in Massachusetts for any U.S. Senate election in modern times. In Boston, the city elections department reported via Twitter at 6 p.m., two hours before polls closed, that turnout was even lower: 17.1%.
Contributing: Catalina Camia; The Associated Press.