A newcomer to politics will take on a veteran U.S. Representative in the special election in Massachusetts to replace John Kerry in the U.S. Senate. The contest has some echoes of Scott Brown’s upset victory in a special senate election three years ago.
Gabriel Gomez, a successful businessman who is making his first bid for high office, was the upset winner of the Republican primary for U.S Senate in Massachusetts on Tuesday. He will take on U.S. Representative Edward Markey, the Democratic party establishment’s choice to succeed John Kerry who is now Secretary of State.
Gomez received just over 50 percent of the vote in the three-way Republican primary to defeat former federal prosecutor Michael Sullivan and state Representative Dan Winslow. Gomez used his fundraising advantage to pay for TV ads to build his name recognition around a compelling personal story. Gomez is a son of Colombian immigrants, a former Navy SEAL, and now a private equity advisor.
He addressed supporters last night in his hometown of Cohasset. His remarks were carried live on New England Cable News.
Gomez, who is 47, made clear he intends to turn Markey’s longevity in Washington into an issue, declaring the race is about the future, not the past
Gomez will try to build the same coalition of moderate Republicans, independents, and conservative Democrats that supported Scott Brown when he defeated Attorney General Martha Coakley in 2010.
Democrats in Massachusetts are still smarting from Brown’s upset victory in the special election that followed the death of Edward Kennedy. Markey, speaking in a Boston hotel ballroom filled with many of the state’s top Democratic officeholders, warned Republicans will try to use the special election as the first step toward gaining a majority in the Senate.
Markey did not mention Gomez by name last night. He spent most of his speech highlighting his support during his lengthy Congressional career for progressive Democratic issues such as equal pay, abortion rights, gay rights and gun control.
Markey used endorsements from top Democrats and support from progressive activists to roll up 57 percent of the vote Tuesday and defeat fellow U.S. Representative Stephen Lynch. Markey and Lynch had agreed to the so-called “people’s pledge” pioneered by Brown and Democratic U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren in last year’s election. It is a self-policed ban on third-party paid campaign advertising.
Markey last night called for its use in the upcoming campaign with Gomez
There was no immediate response from the Gomez campaign.
Neither Markey nor Gomez emerged from their respective primaries with many battle scars. Markey maintained his frontrunner status throughout the campaign with Lynch. Most of the contest was cordial with the exception of the last week when in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings, Lynch accused Markey of being soft on homeland security. Neither campaign ran negative T.V. ads.
Gomez was largely ignored by his two opponents in the Republican primary. It was thought that his chances of winner all but disappeared when it was revealed Gomez had written to Democratic Governor Deval Patrick soliciting the interim appointment to the Senate.
Winslow acknowledged in an interview last night that he had greatly underestimated Gomez.
Turnout for the primaries was exceptionally low. It appears the statewide voter turnout was less than 20 percent. The special senate election is on June 25.