The National Republican Senatorial Committee is sending staff to Massachusetts for the tail end of the campaign for John Kerry's (D) old Senate seat -- a reflection of the party's hopeful posture toward the race.

An aide with knowledge of the changes confirmed that staff is being sent to assist in Republican Gabriel Gomez's upset bid in next month's special election. That staff includes regional political director Sarah Morgan and senior adviser Kevin McLaughlin. The news was first reported by Roll Call's Kyle Trygstad.

A committee spokesman declined comment about strategy but played up Gomez's chances.

"Massachusetts is an uphill climb, but Gomez is a refreshing candidate who is winning over independents looking for something new," NRSC spokesman Brad Dayspring said. "Navy SEALS can climb mountains and Gabriel Gomez has a real opportunity to win the race."

Rep. Ed Markey (D) has led every public poll in the deep blue state, but several polls have put his lead in the single digits.

Republicans have argued that Markey has been in Congress too long (nearly four decades) and that he lives in Maryland rather than Massachusetts. Democrats note that Gomez has suffered from tax issues and that help from the national GOP may not be a great selling point in Massachusetts.

The election is set for June 25.