(FILE – In this May 16, 2013 file photo, Gabriel Gomez, Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in the Massachusetts special election, campaigns in front of the John Adams statue in downtown Quincy, Mass. A former Navy Seal, Gomez is a political neophyte, but he’s hoping to pull of a Scott Brown-style upset in the Massachusetts Senate June 25 special election senate race against Democrat Rep. Ed Markey. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola, File))

Gabriel Gomez: Banking on moderate GOP stance in Mass. Senate race

All the polls have put Massachusetts Republican Senate candidate Gabriel Gomez behind Democratic challenger and long-term Congressman Ed Markey. Yet Gomez – who has never held elective office yet won the Republican primary by double digits – is less than ten points behind Markey, and he says he is feeling optimistic.

“We’re having people from all political beliefs coming over, saying how excited they are about my candidacy and how they can’t wait to send someone who is not a career politician to Washington,” he says.

In liberal-leaning Massachusetts, Gabriel Gomez touts himself as politician who promises to work across the aisle. “I am not going to tow the ideological hard-line,” says Gomez in an interview with NBC Latino.  “In DC you have not only career politicians but hyper-partisan politicians who refuse to work across the aisle, and we can’t do that,” Gomez says.

In Massachusetts, this is a wise strategy, says Arizona State University political scientist Rodolfo Espino. “If he wants to win, he needs a message appropriate to his state’s base – he just needs to say enough to appeal to more than half of the electorate, and in Massachusetts, you have to be left of center” says Espino.

While Gomez is a Catholic married father of 4, he supports gay marriage. On abortion, while Gomez has been facing many questions on what he does and does not support, Gomez repeatedly says he does not believe in overturning Roe versus Wade, though he is personally opposed to abortion. Gomez supports immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship, though he says he agrees with Senators Rubio and McCain on securing the border as a priority.

“Ninety nine-point nine percent of undocumented immigrants are like you and me, good people who are here because it’s better than where they came from, and want to be taxpayers and in many cases start their own business,” he says. “It’s not just a moral issue – it’s a net plus on the economic side.”

To win the Republican primary, Gomez emphasized his background – and this is still his main selling point in the Senate race. Gomez is a former Navy fighter pilot as well as a former Navy Seal.  And being the son of Colombian immigrants, explains Gomez, has given him a unique – and optimistic – perspective.  “I saw how hard my parents worked, and how my country embraced my parents with open arms – that was one of the reasons I decided to join the military, to give back,” he says.

He also touts his years in the military as a plus if he gets elected. “It gives me real experience with national security issues and threats we’re facing – we were reminded of the dangers we’re living with here in Boston a month ago,” he says. Gomez ran in the Boston marathon that day, but was not injured. Veterans issues, he adds, would be one of his top priorities in Washington.

After the military, Gomez obtained his MBA at Harvard, and then made his wealth in the private equity business. He says he would use his experience in the private sector to clear the “uncertainty” businesses are feeling right now. Gomez is opposed to the Affordable Care Act; he thinks there should be basic access to healthcare only through the state, like in Massachusetts. When asked if he would vote to repeal the ACA, he says he would vote to repeal parts of it, like the medical device tax.

Moderate Republicans in more liberal states like Massachusetts face a double challenge. If they are elected in the first place, their more liberal stance clashes with the conservative base in the Republican party, which was the case with former Republican Senator Scott Brown.  “Brown had initial Tea Party support, but as he was elected they soured on him for some of the stances he took,” says Espino.

Still, Gomez says he feels “great enthusiasm” about his campaign, which today released his first ad.  ”For a kid who didn’t know English until he came to school, I’ve lived the American Dream,” he says in the ad.

As a Latino politician, Espino says, Gomez’ more affluent and educated immigrant background shows that  ”the life experiences of Latinos are very diverse,  just like that of white politicians.”

 

Gabriel Gomez: Banking on moderate GOP stance in Mass. Senate race               stephen nuno nbc final e1370610376199 politics NBC Latino News

Stephen A. Nuño, Ph.D., NBC Latino contributor and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Politics and International Affairs at Northern Arizona University. He is currently writing a book on Republican outreach into the Latino Community.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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