In 2010, Republican Scott Brown shocked the political world when he managed a Senate special election victory in solidly-Democratic Massachusetts, against all odds. Now some Republicans are hoping that Gabriel Gomez, the son of Colombian immigrants, a former Navy SEAL and venture capitalist, can pull off an even bigger upset.
Top Republican operatives, in Massachusetts and Washington, are quietly coalescing behind Gomez,
But Gomez will have to first get through a primary against a credible candidate in his own right: State Rep. Dan Winslow, a former Romney legal counsel with years of political experience.
Gomez is putting his background front-and-center; in a video announcing his candidacy, he begins in Spanish before switching to English.
National party officials see Gomez as an attractive candidate. One said that "not only is he a Hispanic Republican with a strong background, he’s a war hero. He’s not a standard politician. He’s an outsider at a time when outsiders are very appreciated by the electorate.”
“The Republican Party has something to prove right now, which we’re saying to whoever will listen, that our doors are open, we are welcoming and we want to grow as a party,” says former Massachusetts Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey.
Gomez could provide Republicans not only with a credible candidate in the race, but also give them another potentially compelling voice as the party pursues outreach to Hispanic voters.
Although Gomez is a political newbie, “he has done his work,” a state GOP activist says, by meeting with the right party officials in recent weeks and shoring up the support he needed. He’s also brought on seasoned officials from the Romney and Brown campaigns, including Bradley Crate, Gail Gitcho and Lenny Alcivar.
As for fundraising chops, well, he is a venture capitalist after all with ties to the state’s business community. Winslow has told MassLive.com that he’s making a loan to his campaign to get it off the ground.
The road will be difficult for any Republican in a state where the tarnished Romney brand is tied so deeply to the state party. Even before Winslow officially announced he was running, the state Democratic Party called him “one of the former governor’s apologists and political attack dogs.” Now, Democrats are trying to exploit the fact that Gomez has hired former Romney campaign officials by calling it an “attempt at running the Romney Campaign 2.0.”
Gomez, for what it’s worth, doesn’t even mention in his campaign announcement video that he’s a Republican. Instead, he talks about the evils of partisanship in Washington.
What’s more, bad weather in the state will make getting on the ballot a feat unto itself; they have until Feb. 27 to get 10,000 certified signatures from voters.
The list of Republican candidates for the seat vacated by John Kerry quickly dwindled once Brown announced he wouldn’t be running. Reps. Ed Markey and Steve Lynch – both seasoned congressmen -- are running for the Democratic nomination.