No sign of traction for Gomez

Comparisons to Scott Brown have been swirling around Gabriel Gomez ever since the Cohasset businessman and former Navy SEAL stormed past a pair of longtime Bay State Republican fixtures, and into a Senate showdown with Rep. Ed Markey.

The National Review argues that Gomez is within striking distance of Markey. Boston magazine’s David Bernstein believes if Gomez is going to live up to the hype and pull off a late Brown-like charge, he has to start now. The Herald’s Joe Battenfeld is calling on the state GOP to pull Brown off the sidelines and help Gomez close the deal by sprinkling the political neophyte with some of Brown’s old Wrentham magic.

But the reality is, Gomez has already shown he’s no Scott Brown. It’s too late for him to pull off the kind of surge Brown showed in January 2010. Brown had incredible amounts of money and momentum behind him at this point in his successful Senate race. And thus far, Gomez hasn’t shown he has either.

A new WBUR poll, conducted by the MassINC Polling Group, indicates Gomez is struggling to chip away at a modest but consistent lead held by Markey. The poll has Gomez trailing Markey by 7 points; a WBUR/MassINC poll last month had Gomez down by 8. The WBUR poll follows one by Suffolk University yesterday that showed Gomez down by 7 points. A pair of polls last week from UMass Amherst and New England College showed Markey up by double digits, but Gomez’s polling numbers haven’t improved much over the past month.

Gomez is also struggling with key constituencies. The WBUR/MassINC poll has him up by just 2 points among unenrolled voters, while a recent poll by Public Policy Polling actually had Markey winning independents by one point; those figures are miles away from the 21-point drubbing among independents that Brown put on Martha Coakley. The WBUR/MassINC poll also has Gomez losing support among women; he’s now down by 21 points among likely female voters.

Brown didn’t pull ahead of Coakley until the final two weeks of their chaotic wintertime race, but he was gathering serious momentum for weeks before that. For instance, Brown went from being down by 3 points among independents in late December to being up by more than 40 points with them in early January. He had clear, documentable momentum among the voters he needed to win over, even when he was still down in the polls overall. But if anything, Gomez is seeing his support among independents slip.

Brown captured independents by riding a national wave of discontent, by taking advantage of a lackadaisical Coakley campaign, and by going on the offensive on TV. He could afford to go big on TV because he had millions of dollars flooding into his campaign, from both inside and outside Massachusetts. Gomez, on the other hand, is being outspent on the air by nearly three-to-one; the vast majority of Markey’s ads have been sharply negative, and Gomez hasn’t been able to do anything to rebut them.

                                                                                                                                                                            –PAUL MCMORROW

BEACON HILL

Keller@Large says the late Paul Cellucci “set the standard” for hard work and honesty among politicians. His MetroWest friends and neighbors reminisce.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

The Lowell Zoning Board of Appeals rejects a planned move by the city’s lone methadone clinic, the Sun reports.

Brockton city councilors made some minor cuts to the proposed $317 million budget but not enough to eliminate the planned $3.7 million hike in the property tax levy.

NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON

Tom Keane says Edward Snowden, the former CIA computer technician who blew the cover on the National Security Agency surveillance program, is a hero, but the Atlantic wants folks like Keane to cool it for a bit. Time’s Joe Klein calls the surveillance program a “nonscandal.”  

A New York Times op-ed column recalls John F. Kennedy’s landmark civil rights address, delivered 50 years ago today.

ELECTIONS

Lowell Sun columnist Peter Lucas says Gabriel Gomez should begin setting his sights on running for governor Writing about Gomez, Margery Eagan wonders “why a Harvard guy doesn’t know more.”

It’s likely to be Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey and here’s why. That is, if he can survive his opponents’ “take down” plan.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Halo Maritime Defense Systems moves it offices from Andover to Newton, New Hampshire. Company CEO Paul Jensen says: “New Hampshire is very business friendly,” reports the Eagle-Tribune.

The Wall Street Journal examines efforts to preserve affordable housing around booming transit lines.

EDUCATION

Executives from Google, Microsoft, and other tech firms are pushing for the state to require computer science classes in public schools so that firms won’t be as reliant on recruiting foreign workers to fill jobs here.

The Haverhill schools are facing an unexpected $750,000 shortfall for this year after 14 special needs students moved into the district, the Eagle-Tribune reports.

A team of engineers from UMass Lowell wins a competition hosted by NASA to build a Mars rover, the Sun reports.

A number of schools in the state will be holding class until the end of the month to make up for the multitude of snow days this past winter, and the kids are none too happy.

HEALTH CARE

The Department of Public Health has determined pediatric services at Morton Hospital in Fall River are “essential” to the community and ordered the Steward Healthcare-owned facility to submit a plan outlining access to the service when the hospital closes the unit.

The US drops its bid to restrict sales of morning-after pill, the New York Times reports.

TRANSPORTATION

A jury awards a Salem woman $500,000 as compensation for injuries she incurred in a Green Line trolley crash; the woman had been seeking $8.6 million from the MBTA, the Salem News reports.

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

The Globe’s Erin Ailworth reveals, in a story that surely met with approval from the paper’s editor, that utility honcho Tom May’s holdings following the merger of NStar and Northeast Utilities exceed $80 million.

In an attempt to mitigate some of the complaints, the Fairhaven Board of Health voted to shut down the town’s two wind turbines between 7 pm and 7 am, effective immediately.

States are starting to raise their highway speed limits to 80 and 85 miles per hour, Governing reports.

Why should great whites have all the fun? A federal official will lead a gray seal tagging effort this week in Chatham and Wellfleet.

The International Energy Agency believes it’s not too late to tackle climate change.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

Jury selection gets underway in the Whitey Bulger trial. Lane Lambert of the Patriot Ledger compares the glare of the spotlight on Bulger’s murder trial with the barren courtroom in Brockton where two men are being tried for the murder of a woman during a robbery gone bad. Greater Boston talks with a former juror in a terrorist case about what sacrifices it takes to sit on a panel in a lengthy high-profile trial.

The attorney for the Milton High School teacher and coach accused of indecent assault on a student says drugs his client is taking for Parkinson’s disease have triggered a “heightened libido” and loss of impulse control.

The New York Times takes a look at Chicago’s efforts to tamp down gang violence and retaliatory shootings.

MEDIA

The Nieman Journalism Lab takes stock of the first five years for ProPublica.

Dan Kennedy pays tribute to “three tough losses” recently in state politics and media, which are often intertwined here — former governor Paul Cellucci, Gloucester Times reporter and veteran journalist Richard Gaines, and former Herald reporter Christopher Cox.