By STEVE LEBLANC AND BOB SALSBERG, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
BOSTON — Democratic U.S. Rep. Edward Markey and Republican Gabriel Gomez scrambled to energize supporters and mobilize get-out-the-vote efforts in Massachusetts in the hours leading up to Tuesday's special election to succeed John Kerry in the U.S. Senate.
Both candidates made a series of campaign stops Monday, culminating with election eve rallies, while their campaigns cranked up their all-important ground games designed to get as many of their voters to the polls as possible on a day when statewide turnout was expected to be light.
Polls opened at 7 a.m. Gomez was scheduled to vote Tuesday morning in his hometown of Cohasset, with Markey casting his ballot later in the morning in Malden.
Markey, 66, has led in the polls, but said he's taking nothing for granted.
"There is no overconfidence in this entire operation," Markey told reporters after an evening rally in Malden.
The longtime Democratic member of the Massachusetts U.S. House delegation explained that his campaign has called or rang the doorbells of 3 million prospective voters in the last four days.
"That's the sign of an organization working hard right up to the finish line," he added.
Gomez, 47, is a political newcomer and former Navy SEAL who worked for a Boston-based private equity firm before jumping into the race.
Gomez was also urging his supporters to get themselves to the polls and to remind their friends and family members to vote, too.
"Tell your friends. Tell your friends to tell their friends they need to vote," Gomez said at an evening rally in Quincy with former GOP U.S. Sen. Scott Brown.
"They think there's going to be a low turnout. There may be a low turnout on their side. That's fine with me. But I know our side and it's a broad side," he added.
Massachusetts state Secretary William Galvin said Monday he expected a lackluster turnout on Tuesday, with no more than 1.6 million of the state's 4.3 million registered voters to cast ballots in the special election, well below the 2.2 million who voted in a 2010 special election, won by Brown, to succeed the late Sen. Edward Kennedy.
Based on a number of factors, including absentee ballots and the relatively few inquiries to his office about the election, the current race was not matching the intensity of the 2010 election, Galvin said.
Markey has held a fundraising advantage throughout the campaign, having spent more $8.6 million on the race through the end of the last reporting period on June 5, compared with $2.3 million by Gomez, according to Federal Election Commission records.
Also on the ballot Tuesday is Richard Heos, who is affiliated with the Twelve Visions Party.
Polls are open until 8 p.m.