Gomez still weighing Senate run

His entry would crowd the ‘moderate’ lane in GOP primary

THE REPUBLICAN PRIMARY FIELD to take on US Sen. Elizabeth Warren next year now includes three candidates, but another contender is still eying the race. Businessman and former Navy SEAL Gabriel Gomez is meeting with potential advisors to chart a path forward and still closely considering his options, according to a source with direct knowledge of the discussions. He ran unsuccessfully for Senate in 2013 against Ed Markey after winning a three-way GOP primary.

A Gomez candidacy would further complicate the electoral math in an already crowded GOP field. If history is any guide, Gomez would most likely position himself as a centrist, looking for votes in a part of the electorate where Beth Lindstrom and John Kingston are already jockeying for advantage. Kingston has already dropped $3 million of his own money into his campaign, and Lindstrom holds deep connections within the GOP establishment.

Meanwhile, state Rep. Geoff Diehl (and 2016 Trump campaign state co-chair) occupies his own lane to the right now that entrepreneur Shiva Ayyadurai has announced he’s bolting from the party primary and will challenge Warren as an independent. The prospect of Gomez, Lindstrom, and Kingston fighting over the same moderate votes may play to Diehl’s favor in the primary.

But Diehl’s association with Trump is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it may help him in the primary. Trump trounced the field by 30 points in the state’s presidential primary. And by a two-to-one margin, Massachusetts Republicans have a favorable view of Trump according to this week’s WBUR poll. But fast-forward to the general, and it’s a different story. Trump suffered one of his worst general elections losses in Massachusetts. This week’s WBUR poll finds just 27 percent of the state’s voters view Trump favorably.

If Gomez does jump in, his past political activity gives some hints as to what sort of campaign he might run. He endorsed Charlie Baker in the 2014 Republican primary, but also donated to independent candidate Jeff McCormick. He has since donated to both Republicans and Democrats, including both Tito Jackson and Marty Walsh in 2016.

Unlike his opponents, Gomez has run statewide before and may have a leg up in terms of campaign organization. But Massachusetts voters can have short memories. After Charlie Baker ran in 2010, voters all but forgot who he was until his 2014 campaign. There has been no public polling to date on Gomez’s prospects, so we don’t know for sure how well voters will remember him from his 2013 special election run.

There’s another challenge for all of the candidates as the field grows. To make it to the primary ballot, candidates have to earn 15 percent of delegates to the GOP convention in 2018. With four candidates on the ballot, it’s conceivable that not all of the candidates will make it through. It’s hard to say what delegates will be looking for from a candidate and whether there will be enough looking for moderates to advance three candidates.

Meet the Author

Steve Koczela

President, MassINC Polling Group

About Steve Koczela

Steve Koczela is the President of The MassINC Polling Group, where he has grown the organization from its infancy to a nationally known and respected polling provider. During the 2014 election cycle, MPG conducted election polling for WBUR, the continuation of a three-year partnership. Koczela again led the endeavor, producing polls which came within one point of the margin in both the Massachusetts gubernatorial and U.S. Senate Elections. He was also lead writer for Poll Vault, WBUR’s political reporting section during the 2014 Election Cycle.

He has led survey research programs for the U.S. Department of State in Iraq, in key states for President Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign, and has conducted surveys and polls on behalf of many private corporations. Koczela brings a deep understanding of the foundations of public opinion and a wide ranging methodological expertise. He earned U.S. Department of State recognition for his leading edge work on sample evaluation in post conflict areas using geospatial systems.

Koczela is frequent guest on WBUR as well as many other news and talk programs in Massachusetts and elsewhere. His polling analysis is often cited in local, state, and national media outlets. He currently serves as President of the New England Chapter of the American Association for Public Opinion Research (NEAAPOR). Koczela holds a Master’s degree in Marketing Research from the University of Wisconsin and is a veteran of the war in Iraq.

About Steve Koczela

Steve Koczela is the President of The MassINC Polling Group, where he has grown the organization from its infancy to a nationally known and respected polling provider. During the 2014 election cycle, MPG conducted election polling for WBUR, the continuation of a three-year partnership. Koczela again led the endeavor, producing polls which came within one point of the margin in both the Massachusetts gubernatorial and U.S. Senate Elections. He was also lead writer for Poll Vault, WBUR’s political reporting section during the 2014 Election Cycle.

He has led survey research programs for the U.S. Department of State in Iraq, in key states for President Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign, and has conducted surveys and polls on behalf of many private corporations. Koczela brings a deep understanding of the foundations of public opinion and a wide ranging methodological expertise. He earned U.S. Department of State recognition for his leading edge work on sample evaluation in post conflict areas using geospatial systems.

Koczela is frequent guest on WBUR as well as many other news and talk programs in Massachusetts and elsewhere. His polling analysis is often cited in local, state, and national media outlets. He currently serves as President of the New England Chapter of the American Association for Public Opinion Research (NEAAPOR). Koczela holds a Master’s degree in Marketing Research from the University of Wisconsin and is a veteran of the war in Iraq.

With this and a number of obstacles to navigate, Gomez will have his work cut out for him, should he decide to run.

Steve Koczela is president of The MassINC Polling Group.