For a time it appeared Republicans would struggle to field a candidate for the special election for U.S. Senate in Massachusetts. But when the deadline passed earlier this week for candidates to submit 10,000 signatures it turned out that three people will compete for the party’s nomination.
A month ago the news about the special Senate election in Massachusetts was all about the Republicans who were not running. First, it was former Senator Scott Brown who decided the time was not right to try for a comeback. Following in rapid order were declarations of non-candidacy from former Governor William Weld, former Lt Governor Kerry Healey, recently unsuccessful Congressional candidates Richard Tisei and Sean Bielat. Even a trial balloon for Tagg Romney, son of the Presidential nominee Mitt Romney, quickly deflated.
But into the void stepped three people who promise robust campaigns in the short time leading to the April 30th primary. There are two experienced politicians, and a new comer. The fresh face, Gabriel Gomez introduced himself Thursday at campaign events across the state. He calls himself a new generation of Republican leader, with an appealing life story.
Gomez is the son of Columbian immigrants. He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy, become a Navy SEAL, got an MBA from Harvard and for the last 15 years has been a successful private equity investor. The 47 year old married father of four addressed an audience at an American Legion Hall in West Springfield and began his remarks in Spanish.
He said he rejected being labeled either a conservative or liberal.
Gomez’s message of bipartisanship echoes that of former Senator Brown, who campaigned last year on a slogan of “ people over party”
The other Republicans who have qualified for the primary ballot are Michael Sullivan and Dan Winslow. Sullivan is a former US Attorney for Massachusetts and a former Plymouth District Attorney. Winslow is a state legislator, former judge and was once legal counsel to Governor Romney.
Mike Case, a member of the Republican State Committee from the Berkshires, was at Gomez’s campaign event, but has not endorsed a candidate in the primary.
Two veteran congressman, Ed Markey and Stephen Lynch, are battling for the Democratic nomination.
Tim Vercellotti, political science professor at Western New England University, said all the candidates are in unchartered waters
The winner of the special election will fill the unexpired term of John Kerry, who resigned to become Secretary of State. That means running for re-election in 2014.