Gomez launches Senate candidacy

Kerry Healey calls him 'future of our party'

STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE

GABRIEL GOMEZ officially launched his campaign for the US Senate on Thursday, describing himself as a “new kind of Republican” interested in breaking the partisan divide in Washington and reining in government spending.

“The simple fact is that if we are going to preserve the American dream for future generations, we have to get our government spending under control, and focus on our economy,” Gomez, a Cohasset resident, told family, friends, and a few dozen supporters at the American Legion in Quincy.

Gomez, making his first public appearance since gathering enough signatures to qualify for the ballot, planned stops in Shrewsbury and Springfield on Thursday. His remarks focused heavily on his upbringing as the son of Colombian immigrants, his experience as a Navy SEAL and his education and professional career. He spoke at first in Spanish, which he described as a “habit,” noting he learned Spanish before English after his parents emigrated from Colombia the year before he was born and that he grew up in Yakima, Washington.

Now an investment manager at Boston-based Advent International, Gomez said he has spent a considerable amount of time in the private sector investing and growing retirement funds for public employees. Criticizing the “bloated” federal government for operating without a budget, and overextending itself to create a $16 trillion deficit, Gomez said, “I would never invest pension funds for Massachusetts public employees in a company like that.”

With automatic spending cuts that could harm the state’s economy set to go into effect Friday absent a deal between Congress and the White House, Gomez called for the president and members of the House and Senate to forgo their own paychecks until a deal on sequestration is reached.

He said Congress agreed to new revenues President Obama was seeking in January when payroll taxes were allowed to increase and upper-income earners saw a tax increase, and now is the time to focus on reducing federal spending in a responsible way and not seeking another “balanced” approach as Democrats suggested.

Gomez, 47, distanced himself from liberal, conservative, or moderate labels, at one point declaring, “No soy un politico” and at another saying, “I don’t know all the political lingo – and I don’t want to know all the political lingo.” He said instead that he was a “Navy man.”

Gomez told reporters he is Catholic and personally pro-life, but not interested in overturning Roe v. Wade. “Now, this is a very contentious issue, I understand that. And I’m not going down to D.C. to change the law,” he said.

Gomez also said immigration reform should include a path to citizenship that is neither “easy” nor “impossible” and expressed support for gay marriage. “I believe if people are in love, they should be able to get married,” he said.

In highlighting his Colombian heritage, Gomez’s candidacy could appeal to a growing voter bloc in Massachusetts of Hispanic citizens at a time when national Republicans have acknowledged a failure to make inroads into immigrant communities while Democrats have benefitted from the influx of new Americans.

Appearing nervous during his first political speech, Gomez also called for a ban on members of Congress from leaving public office to become lobbyists, and said he supports term limits for members of Congress. When asked whether he planned to limit his own service in the Senate, if elected, Gomez initially did not directly answer the question, but an aide later said he would not run for more than two terms in the Senate.

Gomez arrived in Quincy with his wife Sarah and their four children, joking that they had to leave their two dogs at home. His oldest daughter Olivia introduced him.

Former Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey showed up to support Gomez, as well as supporters and a few undecided voters interested in hearing Gomez speak for the first time. Healey said she welcomed a competitive Republican primary, and has a lot of respect for the other two candidates in the race, including former US Attorney Michael Sullivan and state Rep. Daniel Winslow, who served in the Romney administration as chief counsel with Healey.

Winslow and Sullivan announced this week they had gathered the signatures to qualify for the ballot, and are more well-known to Republican voters and elected officials who have worked with them in politics over the years.

“We need to welcome candidates like Gabriel Gomez into the mix, and we need to support them and give them encouragement to get out there and, personally, I’m hoping Gabriel does very well,” Healey said.

“I believe that he is the future of our party. We need people like Gabriel who can restore the party identity with their vision of opportunity in America, their vision and genuine belief in the American dream, and their understanding that that’s predicated on education, service, and a strong economy,” Healey said.

Meet the Author

Matt Murphy

State House News Service
The three-way Republican primary is scheduled for April 30, with the Republican nominee slated to go up against the winner of the Democratic primary contest between Congressmen Edward Markey and Stephen Lynch. The Lynch campaign on Thursday was mourning the loss of its attorney and Lynch’s close friend William McDermott, who was struck and killed by Range Rover in South Boston Wednesday evening.

John Walsh, the head of the state Democratic Party, said Sullivan, Winslow, and Gomez are all “more qualified than Scott Brown was in 2010,” but said Democrats would be successful if they forced the men to discuss their positions. “The reason that slipped away is because we didn’t force a discussion on the issues,” Walsh said.