Tags: markey | gomez | senate | liberal | gop

Two Liberals Face Off in Massachusetts Senate Race

By John Gizzi   |   Wednesday, 01 May 2013 09:04 AM

With Massachusetts Republicans Tuesday choosing the most liberal candidate on the ballot as their nominee for an open Senate seat, drawing a contrast with the Democratic primary winner won’t be easy.

Liberal Republican Gabriel Gomez will face liberal Democrat Rep. Ed Markey in the June 25 special election for the Senate seat long held by Secretary of State John Kerry.

But Gomez, a venture capitalist and political novice, will have a tricky task to win over voters by highlighting his stands on key issues.

At a time when a growing number of Democrats are having second thoughts about implementing Obamacare, Gomez can hardly make the special election a referendum on the president’s policies, considering he is a past supporter of Barack Obama.

Gomez admitted voting for Obama in 2008 in a letter to Massachusetts Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick, requesting appointment to Kerry’s vacant Senate seat. In the same letter, Gomez said he supported Obama on issues such as gun control and immigration reform.

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In addition, published reports showed that in the 2010 special Senate race eventually won by Republican Scott Brown, Gomez donated $1,000 to arch-liberal Democrat Alan Khazei.

None of this upset the Bay State’s Republican establishment — still moderate-to-liberal even as the GOP in most other states is becoming more conservative — and Gomez won 51 percent of the vote over two more-conservative opponents.

The two Republican National Committee members from Massachusetts — Ron Kaufman and Kerry Healey, who was Mitt Romney’s lieutenant governor — weighed in for Gomez from the beginning.
iberal former Gov. William Weld, a Republican-for-Obama in 2008, also gave his blessings to Gomez. Several veterans of the Romney-for-president campaign became staffers for Gomez-for-Senate.

Coupled with an estimated $1 million from Gomez’s own fortune, that was enough to give him the nomination over former U.S. Attorney Michael Sullivan, who came in second with 36 percent of the vote, and moderate state Rep. Dan Winslow, with 14 percent.

When I talked to Sullivan a few days before the primary, he spoke of waging a campaign against Markey based on the Democrat’s all-out support for Obamacare and on national security — an issue that has surely caught on in Massachusetts in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing.

Markey had long opposed the Patriot Act, which provided law enforcement officials with invaluable intelligence on terrorists, said Sullivan, and that would be a key issue in the Senate election.

“Those are the issues we are going to emphasize — national security and Obamacare, absolutely,” Sullivan said.

Moreover, Sullivan said, his conservative social-issue stands — pro-life, pro-traditional marriage, and pro-Second Amendment — would win over moderate Democrats who supported Markey’s primary opponent, Rep. Stephen Lynch, who drew an unexpectedly strong 42 percent of the vote against Markey.

But Gomez is the nominee and not Sullivan, and it is difficult to conceive of him waging the same type of campaign of contrasts against Markey.

At best, his background in uniform — as U.S. Naval Academy graduate, Navy pilot, and SEAL — certainly gives him credentials to discuss national security.

Kaufman, Healey, Weld and other non-conservatives still wield political clout among Massachusetts Republicans, and Gomez’s nomination is proof of that. They wanted a nominee who they felt could wage a “résumé” campaign, and Gomez’s résumé as a successful businessman and military veteran is impressive.

Beyond that, the Republican nominee cannot draw much of a contrast between himself and Markey on the Obama record, or on social issues, or much else because there isn’t one.

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John Gizzi is a special columnist for Newsmax.com.

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