Gabriel Gomez, an ex-Navy SEAL turned Republican politician, will face off against Democratic Rep. Ed Markey in a special election in June for the U.S. Senate seat vacated in January by Secretary of State John Kerry.
Gomez, 47, won a three-way primary Tuesday
against former U.S. Attorney Michael Sullivan and state Rep. Daniel Winslow. Markey, 66, a member of Congress for the last 36 years, defeated fellow U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch on the Democratic side. A special election will be held June 25 to determine who will fill Kerry's place.
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The son of Colombian immigrants, Gomez is being billed as a new kind of Republican with a unique résumé and moderate social views. Here are five things to know about the man who could be the next U.S. Senator from Massachusetts:
1. Gomez Is Decorated Navy SEAL
Gomez caught the eye of Naval Academy recruiters in high school when he was crowned the Washington state tennis champion in 1983. He attended the academy and earned a bachelor's degree in systems engineering
before enrolling in flight school. He worked for four years as a pilot on board aircraft carriers but wanted more adventure, so he decided to train as a Sea-Air-Land officer (SEAL).
According to Naval Special Warfare Public Affairs, the rate of those who survive SEAL training is only 25 to 30 percent of trainees, but Gomez not only made it through Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training, considered one of the military’s most physically and mentally grueling programs, he became his class leader.
2. Gomez Went to Harvard
Gomez left the Navy in 1996 to attend Harvard Business School, where he graduated with an MBA and landed a job as a private equity investor. Just 5 percent of the students in Gomez's 1997 class hailed from the military, according to a Harvard spokesman.
3. Gomez Self-funds His Campaign
Gomez found success starting out at the Charlotte, N.C.-based investment banking firm Bowles Hollowell Conner. While most private equity investors have a Wall Street background, Gomez's military training proved alluring to employers and he quickly climbed the ranks, ending up at the Boston-based Advent International.
He reported earning more than $8.5 million from 2007 to 2011, according to The Associated Press. For his Senate campaign, Gomez reportedly loaned himself $600,000.
4. Gomez Ran in Boston Marathon
Gomez ran the Boston Marathon last month as his wife Sarah and their children watched from the sidelines. Fortunately, he finished a few minutes before the two bombs,
which killed three and injured more than 170, detonated. Gomez and his family were unharmed, and he immediately pulled all his Senate campaign television ads and called on President Barack Obama to treat suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev as an enemy combatant.
5. Gomez Supports Gay Marriage
To win an election in the notoriously blue state of Massachusetts will be tough for Gomez, a Republican, but his moderate views make him more appealing to Democrats. For example, he supports gay marriage and a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.
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Gomez has also said that although he is a Catholic who opposes abortion, he would not seek to change the settled law on abortion rights.
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