Gabriel Gomez’s Etch A Sketch moment?

Former Senate candidate Gabriel Gomez insists his conversion from staunchly defending an absolute  Second Amendment right to bear arms to now supporting an assault weapons ban and limiting magazine sizes is a matter of personal conscience separate from any decision to run for office again.

(In a related note, limited permits are now on sale for the Cape Cod Canal tunnel.)

It’s hard to take at face value claims that any decision on hot-button issues made by any politician that is 180 degrees from a previous stance is solely a matter of introspection divorced from public opinion. It’s especially hard when that sea-change in thought is announced in an op-ed posted on the website of the region’s leading media outlet that endorsed his opponent, as Gomez did on BostonGlobe.com. It has the sense, in the words of Eric Fehrnstrom, of being an Etch A Sketch moment.

But whether one believes the motives behind the public revelation of a private decision are pure or political, his discussion of his change of heart appears convincing and sincere. And while it may lose him a few of his staunchest allies from the Republican base, it’s hard to see how his new outlook will hurt him and, in a number of ways, could help him depending upon which office he decides to pursue.

“I remain a private citizen, but feel I owe it to Massachusetts’ voters to admit that I was wrong in one of my earlier positions,” Gomez wrote in a surprising public admission.

Gomez says while he repeatedly heard from and disagreed with voters during the campaign who supported an assault weapons ban, it seems his wife’s opposition to his position was the push he needed to move away from his stance. That admission could help him with women voters who see a person open to advice from his spouse. It’s also not lost on a lot of people that Gomez, a Navy SEAL who said his military experience honed his appreciation and support for the right to bear arms, made his announcement in the immediate aftermath of the carnage at the Navy Yard in Washington.

Gomez says it’s “50-50” that he returns to the campaign trail, though most observers think it’s a matter of when – and where – not if. Gomez admits he’s eyeing a rematch with Sen. Ed Markey, who beat him by 10 points earlier this year in a campaign that relied heavily on focusing on Gomez’s opposition to a ban on assault weapons. With the Newtown massacre last December still fresh in everyone’s mind and in a state with the strictest gun laws that have widespread support among the electorate, it was an issue that resonated.

Gomez says he’d also consider running as lieutenant governor if GOP frontrunner – and at this point sole Republican candidate – Charlie Baker asks him to join him on the ballot. His change of heart on assault weapons won’t help much if he ends up on the state ballot because gun control here is settled law. But Gomez’s previous stance could have been a hindrance, placing an unwanted focus on an issue that Republicans know is a nonstarter in the Bay State.

A bigger effect, though, could be in the Senate. Markey cashed in, literally, on Gomez’s position, reaping tens of thousands of dollars from fundraising appeals and refusing to let any opportunity pass without hammering home to voters the difference in their beliefs. Taking that off the table a good year-plus before the general election mutes that attack.

It also could work to Gomez’s benefit among voters in Massachusetts who want to see some changes in federal gun laws as the body count rises around the country. Having a Republican in office who may buck the leadership when it comes to passing some kind of laws to begin limiting assault weapons could help push his way a few fence-straddling voters who otherwise like his personal narrative of being from Colombian immigrants and his fiscal stances. And it will be real difficult for the NRA-types to question a former SEAL’s resolve when it comes to his bona fides.

                                                                                                                                                             –JACK SULLIVAN

BEACON HILL

The House of Representatives votes to repeal the tech tax, 156-1. Howie Carr says it was almost a stampede of flip-floppers.

Gov. Deval Patrick’s future political ambitions make for interesting speculation, State House News reports (via CommonWealth).

The state has targeted Quincy District Court for long-needed improvements but hasn’t yet got on board with the city’s proposal to move it to a planned redevelopment of the Quincy Center T station.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

The Boston Finance Commission says that the lease agreement struck by the Menino administration with the Boston Red Sox to allow the team’s use of two public streets near Fenway Park is “financially irresponsible.”

Lynn Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy gets into a dispute with the City Council (she’s running against Council President Tim Phelan) over a council computer one of her aides snatched temporarily, the Item reports.

CASINOS

The Boston City Council voted 10-3 against a citywide referendum on the proposed Suffolk Downs casino, paving the way for the issue to be decided only by voters in East Boston in a November 5 ballot question.

NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON

Not everyone in the GOP was enamored with Sen. Ted Cruz’s 21-hour marathon to nowhere, especially after he voted with the 99 other senators to take up the measure he vowed to block on defunding Obamacare.

ELECTIONS

Three political observers on Greater Boston say the city is ready for a minority candidate but it was the minority candidates who ran who weren’t ready for prime time. Yvonne Abraham echoes that theme, especially with regard to the leading vote-getter among minority candidates, Charlotte Richie.  The Rev. Eugene Rivers, one of the more vocal Richie supporters, says the failure of the black community to coalesce around one candidate doomed all the candidates. The Globe mulls the mark made by minority candidates in the race. The Bay State Banner argues that black voters are no longer going to vote for a candidate just because that person is black. Gabrielle Gurley pondered the new Boston conundrum in Wednesday’s Download. Joan Vennochi coins a new term for the non-union progressive types that Marty Walsh will try to woo: “the Linehan-left,” a reference to Dorchester activist and Walsh stalwart Joyce Linehan.  It’s a tough choice for the Boston Teachers Union as it decides whether and who to endorse in the final.

James Aloisi reports on the first mayor of the new Boston as part of his CommonWealth series.

Don’t run for Congress without Dad: A poll shows that Rep. Carl Sciortino leads among 5th District voters who’ve seen his ad with his dad.

Republican Charlie Baker appears on NECN’s Broadside and talks about what he is doing differently in his second run for governor. This morning on Boston Herald Radio, he says Democratic leadership have been slow, even resistant, to make changes in the embattled EBT program.

It’s not exactly Wiener-like, but a stripper from Oregon reveals that she carried on a Twitter conversation with Cory Booker, who is running for the US Senate in New Jersey, the New York Times reports. (The woman is topless in her Twitter picture.)

In Brockton, it doesn’t matter who the candidate is, everybody gets to hang campaign signs on the fence around the parking lot for George’s Cafe, owned by former City Councilor Charles Tartaglia. Meanwhile City Councilor Dennis DeNapoli, who is running for reelection, was caught on video taking down signs of defeated candidates the day after the election, something he says he does “as a favor” while the candidates say no one asked him.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Hewlett-Packard terminated its relationship with the defense subcontractor who employed Navy Yard killer Aaron Alexis.

Testing the city’s commitment to transit-oriented, car-free growth, a developer is proposing a 175-unit condo project next to the TD Garden that includes no parking spaces.

EDUCATION

Trustees at Westfield State University may try to move to suspend president Evan Dobelle pending the outcome of an investigation into his spending practices, the Globe reports. Ensuring some hard hitting ahead, Dobelle hired PR flak George Regan to battle back.

Public cyber schools are flunking, but tax money keeps flowing to them, Politico reports.

State officials are seeking more time before implementing new teacher evaluation programs, WBUR reports.

A Salem elementary school goes into lockdown after a nearby stabbing, the Salem News reports.

The big shift to iPads for students at all sorts of schools is bringing with it some problems, the Los Angeles Times reports.

HEALTH CARE

The Berkshire Eagle joins the push for tighter regulation of e-cigarettes.

TRANSPORTATION

Easton officials were caught off-guard by the Army Corps of Engineers recommendation to run electric trains along the planned South Coast Rail line, a move that could derail the town’s request to build a tunnel for the train to go under Main Street.

Meet the Author

Jack Sullivan

Senior Investigative Reporter, CommonWealth

About Jack Sullivan

Jack Sullivan is a veteran of the Boston newspaper scene for nearly three decades. Prior to joining CommonWealth, he was editorial page editor of The Patriot Ledger in Quincy, a part of the GateHouse Media chain. Prior to that he was news editor at another GateHouse paper, The Enterprise of Brockton, and also was city edition editor at the Ledger. Jack was an investigative and enterprise reporter and executive city editor at the Boston Herald and a reporter at The Boston Globe.

He has reported stories such as the federal investigation into the Teamsters, the workings of the Yawkey Trust and sale of the Red Sox, organized crime, the church sex abuse scandal and the September 11 terrorist attacks. He has covered the State House, state and local politics, K-16 education, courts, crime, and general assignment.

Jack received the New England Press Association award for investigative reporting for a series on unused properties owned by the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, and shared the association's award for business for his reporting on the sale of the Boston Red Sox. As the Ledger editorial page editor, he won second place in 2007 for editorial writing from the Inland Press Association, the nation's oldest national journalism association of nearly 900 newspapers as members.

At CommonWealth, Jack and editor Bruce Mohl won first place for In-Depth Reporting from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors for a look at special education funding in Massachusetts. The same organization also awarded first place to a unique collaboration between WFXT-TV (FOX25) and CommonWealth for a series of stories on the Boston Redevelopment Authority and city employees getting affordable housing units, written by Jack and Bruce.

A Boston native, Jack has lived in Massachusetts all his life. He was a major in English and history with a minor in political science at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. A father and grandfather, he lives in Plymouth with his wife, Susan.

About Jack Sullivan

Jack Sullivan is a veteran of the Boston newspaper scene for nearly three decades. Prior to joining CommonWealth, he was editorial page editor of The Patriot Ledger in Quincy, a part of the GateHouse Media chain. Prior to that he was news editor at another GateHouse paper, The Enterprise of Brockton, and also was city edition editor at the Ledger. Jack was an investigative and enterprise reporter and executive city editor at the Boston Herald and a reporter at The Boston Globe.

He has reported stories such as the federal investigation into the Teamsters, the workings of the Yawkey Trust and sale of the Red Sox, organized crime, the church sex abuse scandal and the September 11 terrorist attacks. He has covered the State House, state and local politics, K-16 education, courts, crime, and general assignment.

Jack received the New England Press Association award for investigative reporting for a series on unused properties owned by the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, and shared the association's award for business for his reporting on the sale of the Boston Red Sox. As the Ledger editorial page editor, he won second place in 2007 for editorial writing from the Inland Press Association, the nation's oldest national journalism association of nearly 900 newspapers as members.

At CommonWealth, Jack and editor Bruce Mohl won first place for In-Depth Reporting from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors for a look at special education funding in Massachusetts. The same organization also awarded first place to a unique collaboration between WFXT-TV (FOX25) and CommonWealth for a series of stories on the Boston Redevelopment Authority and city employees getting affordable housing units, written by Jack and Bruce.

A Boston native, Jack has lived in Massachusetts all his life. He was a major in English and history with a minor in political science at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. A father and grandfather, he lives in Plymouth with his wife, Susan.

MEDIA

The author of a FCC report on the state of the news media urges tech giants like Google and Apple to step up and support nonprofit journalism. Yeah, that sounds like a good idea to us here at CommonWealth.