Democratic Rep. Ed Markey handily defeated Republican challenger Gabriel Gomez in a special U.S. Senate race in Massachusetts this week, avoiding what for Democrats could have been a second electoral humiliation in three years.

Markey, a 37-year congressional veteran, beat the Republican businessman and former Navy SEAL 55 percent to 45 percent in unofficial returns, winning a seat vacated when then-Sen. John Kerry, a Democrat, was tapped by President Obama to be secretary of state.

In a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans 3-to-1, Markey would normally be considered a shoo-in, but the national party pumped millions into the race to ensure that the race wouldn't be a replay of a 2010 special election in which Republican Scott Brown became the first senator from the Bay State in 50 years.

Despite Markey's edge, Gomez came within single digits of him in some polls and the Democratic Party's biggest hitters  Obama, former President Bill Clinton and Vice President Joe Biden  traveled to Massachusetts to help Markey rally the party's base.

Markey will have to defend the seat in the 2014 elections.

Booker ignores opponents in first N.J. Senate campaign ad

Newark Mayor Cory Booker clearly has the target on his back in the New Jersey race to replace longtime Sen. Frank Lautenberg, who passed away in early June. He's already the subject of a blistering ad from one of his primary opponents, Rep. Rush Holt, a Jersey Democrat who poked fun at Booker's celebrity status.

Booker is striking back with an ad of his own. But rather than acknowledge his opponents in the race  Holt, Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., and state Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver  Booker instead used the spot to introduce himself to voters around the state.

The 30-second spot touts Booker's mayoral record on fighting gun violence and improving public schools.

"Washington ducks our problems. I won't," Booker says in the ad, which will air in the Philadelphia and New York markets.

The four-way Democratic primary is Aug. 13. In October, the winner will face the Republican nominee, a field that right now is led by former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan, the former leader of the New Jersey chapter of Americans for Prosperity.

Attack ads aren't just for campaigns anymore

Alison Lundergan Grimes hasn't announced any plans to run against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in 2014, but the Kentucky secretary of state is already under attack by conservatives who are calling her a "cheerleader" for President Obama.

Lundergan is reportedly pondering running against the Republican leader and that was reason enough for the group Kentuckians for Strong Leadership to spend $260,000 to run a 30-second ad against her in Louisville, Lexington and Paducah. The ad says Lundergan would help "jam through" the liberal agenda of a president who has never been popular in Kentucky.

The Republican group's ad is airing just days after two Democratic groups  Senate Majority PAC and Patriot Majority USA - ran ads in the state attacking McConnell. The ad shows McConnell saying he has "lived on a government salary for 30 years," then adds "30 years is too long." An earlier Democratic ad linked McConnell to al Qaeda because he opposed new gun-control laws.

Though the election is more than a year away, McConnell's campaign is spending cash on TV ads of its own, including one that attacks Obama over the IRS targeting of conservative groups.