BOSTON (CNN) – Democratic Rep. Ed Markey and Republican businessman Gabriel Gomez will face off in the Massachusetts Senate special election after winning their respective party nominations in Tuesday's primary, the Associated Press projected.
Markey beat fellow Democratic Rep. Stephen Lynch, while Gomez won a crowded primary in a race largely overshadowed by the Boston Marathon bombings that took place a little more than two weeks ago.
Markey and Gomez will compete in the special election on June 25th. The victor will fill the seat vacated by Democrat John Kerry earlier this year when he was confirmed as secretary of state.
In the meantime, Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick has appointed William "Mo" Cowan to serve as interim senator.
Shortly after polls closed, Lynch thanked his opponent. Markey responded.
Even before the bombings, Massachusetts voters weren't paying that much attention to the contest. But the attacks, which left three people dead and more than 260 injured, froze the race, as the two Democratic and three Republican candidates immediately suspended their campaigns for nearly a week.
And when the campaigning resumed, it competed with non-stop media coverage of the investigation into the bombings.
The bombings also altered the campaigns, as some of the candidates altered their messaging to include the bombings and highlighted their national security credentials. In the final two Democratic debates last week, Lynch attacked Markey for voting for a port security bill and against the creation of a joint terrorism task force.
Markey pushed back, saying he voted no because the measures excluded "a provision that would have made the bill even stronger."
Lynch went up with a new TV ad about the bombing and Markey went up with a spot highlighting his efforts following the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001.
On the GOP side, the contest was between Gomez, a private equity investor and former Navy SEAL, former US attorney Michael Sullivan, and state Rep. Daniel Winslow, a former judge and chief legal counsel under former Gov. Mitt Romney.
Gomez was running the marathon and finished just a few minutes before the bombs went off. He was not injured. Gomez appeared live on some of the cable news networks in the days after the terror attacks, giving a first-hand account of what he witnessed when the bombs went off and describing his search for his wife and children, who were at the finish line of the marathon at the time of the attacks.
Sullivan, who served as the acting director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) during President George W. Bush's second term, also appeared as a live guest on some of the cable news networks, including CNN, to analyze the law enforcement response.
After the results were called Tuesday night, it didn't take long for both sides to immediately jump on the attack, and reactions from outside groups gave a glimpse of what the next two months will look like on the campaign trail.
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee issued a statement arguing Gomez is out of touch and represents the "extreme right wing" of the GOP.
"Gomez has built his enormous wealth on the backs of hardworking middle class families and he is out of touch with Massachusetts," Matt Canter, deputy executive director for the DSCC, said.
Senate Majority PAC, a third-party group seeking to keep the Senate in the hands of Democrats, argued in a statement that Gomez is "Mitt Romney Jr."
"From protecting special tax breaks for billionaires at the expense of seniors and students, to surrounding himself with political insiders from Romney 2012, to talking out of both sides of his mouth, Gabriel Gomez is running a 'Mini Me' retread of Mitt Romney's epic failure of a presidential campaign," the group's statement read.
On the other side, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said Markey, who's now in his 20th term, "won't offer anything new."
"As an entrenched Washington liberal, he'll just pack up his office, move down the street and get right back to work raising taxes, spending money we don't have and ignoring the urgent need to create jobs," Priebus said in a statement.