FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Gomez Factor

by STEWART J. LAWRENCE

He may just be the second coming of Florida senator Marco Rubio – with machine guns.

Gabriel Gomez, who won the GOP Senate primary in Massachusetts earlier this week, is a fresh-faced pro-life Latino Republican who just so happens to be a former Navy SEAL. At a time when Massachusetts — to say nothing of the rest of the country — is still reeling from the Boston marathon bombings, the candidacy of a charismatic military warrior and successful businessman may well have struck a nerve with the state’s voters. Gomez came out of nowhere and defeated two far-better known GOP candidates, capturing both the Tea party vote as well as support from party moderates.

Prior to Gomez’ s stunning double-digit victory, Democrats had been waxing confident about filling the Senate seat vacated by John Kerry. Democrats are still smarting from Republican Scott Brown’s upset win in 2009, which sent shock waves across the political spectrum, and helped fueled the rise of the Tea party to national prominence. Now, the surprise Gomez win has upset the applecart once again.

Of course, no one knows how well Gomez will actually stack up against Markey in what is likely to be a hard-fought campaign between now and the June 25 general election. A poll taken in mid-April had Markey up 51-36 over Gomez, but at the time Gomez wasn’t well-known and wasn’t expected to win. Publicly, Democrats remain confident, but privately Markey and his aides are rattled. Already, Gomez is generating considerable political buzz.

For Republicans, Gomez’s appearance on the scene continues a trend of Republican Latino newcomers surging to the national spotlight. Rubio, who won in 2010, has emerged as a top GOP figure with 2016 presidential ambitions. So has ultra-conservative Texas senator ted Cruz, who is exploring a presidential bid of his own.

Meanwhile, the Democrats’ only Latino Senator, New Jersey’s Bob Menendez, is facing a damaging ethics inquiry that could well ruin his political career. The only other major national Latino political figures who are Democrats, Antonio Villaraigosa and Julian Castro, are both mayors.

Republicans are placing heavy emphasis on recruiting and supporting Latino political candidates. Ed Gillespie, a veteran of the Bush-Rove years, is spearheading the promotion of candidates like Gomez to try to reposition the GOP with Latino voters, and to regain the political ground lost since Bush won more than 40% of the Latino vote in 2004. Two of the nation’s Latino governors, Nevada’s Brian Sandoval and New Mexico’s Susana Martinez, are both Republicans, who, like Rubio, and a half dozen members of the House, were elected in 2010.

And yet, despite their electoral surge, it remains unclear if the GOP can use its candidates to attract large numbers of Latino voters. Martinez, Rubio, Cruz and Sandoval have all garnered more than 40% of the Latino vote in past state elections, outperforming their Anglo Republican counterparts. However, still saddled with their national party’s anti-immigrant reputation, and hostile to policies like Obamacare that Latinos broadly support, the ability of candidates like Gomez, who is also staunchly pro-life, to attract significant Latino support at the national level remains in doubt. In fact, polls show that most of these figures, despite their growing media buzz, remain largely unknown to most Latino voters.

Markey clearly has a distinct advantage as the campaign gets underway next week, and the two men prepare for the first of a series of televised debates. The political climate in Massachusetts has changed dramatically since Brown’s earlier upset victory in a special election 2010. Moreover, Markey, unlike Brown’s competitor in that race, is the state’s longest running elected official and an effective campaigner.

But Gomez, whose parents are Colombian immigrants, has, like Rubio, a compelling second-generation Latino success story. In the primary campaign, despite his MBA from Harvard, he projected a common-man’s image, telling viewers during a debate: “I am just like you.” Like Brown in 2010, he’ll have to keep the Tea party wing of the party mobilized while swaying independents and at least some Democrats to the view that they should choose him rather than have the state represented by two liberals.

Expect the Democrats, meanwhile to play on Gomez’s staunch pro-life stances – and opposition to Planned Parenthood — to staunch the defection of moderate women who helped catapult Elizabeth Warren to victory over Brown. One key question is whether the Obama White House will weigh in heavily in this race. Disaffection with Obama is growing, and a Gomez win could have the similar catalytic effect on the GOP that Brown’s victory did in 2010.

Stewart J. Lawrence can be reached at stewartlawrence81147@gmail.com

 

Stewart J. Lawrence can be reached at stewartlawrence81147@gmail.com

Weekend Edition
February 12-14, 2016
Andrew Levine
What Next in the War on Clintonism?
Jeffrey St. Clair
A Comedy of Terrors: When in Doubt, Bomb Syria
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh – Anthony A. Gabb
Financial Oligarchy vs. Feudal Aristocracy
Paul Street
When Plan A Meets Plan B: Talking Politics and Revolution with the Green Party’s Jill Stein
Rob Urie
The (Political) Season of Our Discontent
Pepe Escobar
It Takes a Greek to Save Europa
Gerald Sussman
Why Hillary Clinton Spells Democratic Party Defeat
Carol Norris
What Do Hillary’s Women Want? A Psychologist on the Clinton Campaign’s Women’s Club Strategy
Robert Fantina
The U.S. Election: Any Good News for Palestine?
Linda Pentz Gunter
Radioactive Handouts: the Nuclear Subsidies Buried Inside Obama’s “Clean” Energy Budget
Michael Welton
Lenin, Putin and Me
Manuel García, Jr.
Fire in the Hole: Bernie and the Cracks in the Neo-Liberal Lid
Thomas Stephens
The Flint River Lead Poisoning Catastrophe in Historical Perspective
David Rosen
When Trump Confronted a Transgender Beauty
Will Parrish
Cap and Clear-Cut
Victor Grossman
Coming Cutthroats and Parting Pirates
Ben Terrall
Raw Deals: Challenging the Sharing Economy
David Yearsley
Beyoncé’s Super Bowl Formation: Form-Fitting Uniforms of Revolution and Commerce
David Mattson
Divvying Up the Dead: Grizzly Bears in a Post-ESA World
Matthew Stevenson
Confessions of a Primary Insider
Jeff Mackler
Friedrichs v. U.S. Public Employee Unions
Franklin Lamb
Notes From Tehran: Trump, the Iranian Elections and the End of Sanctions
Pete Dolack
More Unemployment and Less Security
Christopher Brauchli
The Cruzifiction of Michael Wayne Haley
Bill Quigley
Law on the Margins: a Profile of Social Justice Lawyer Chaumtoli Huq
Uri Avnery
A Lady With a Smile
Katja Kipping
The Opposite of Transparency: What I Didn’t Read in the TIPP Reading Room
B. R. Gowani
Hellish Woman: ISIS’s Granny Endorses Hillary
Kent Paterson
The Futures of Whales and Humans in Mexico
James Heddle
Why the Current Nuclear Showdown in California Should Matter to You
Michael Howard
Hollywood’s Grotesque Animal Abuse
Steven Gorelick
Branding Tradition: a Bittersweet Tale of Capitalism at Work
Nozomi Hayase
Assange’s UN Victory and Redemption of the West
Patrick Bond
World Bank Punches South Africa’s Poor, by Ignoring the Rich
Mel Gurtov
Is US-Russia Engagement Still Possible?
Dan Bacher
Governor Jerry Brown Receives Cold, Dead Fish Award Four Years In A Row
Wolfgang Lieberknecht
Fighting and Protecting Refugees
Jennifer Matsui
Doglegs, An Unforgettable Film
Soud Sharabani
Israeli Myths: An Interview with Ramzy Baroud
Terry Simons
Bernie? Why Not?
Missy Comley Beattie
When Thoughtful People Think Illogically
Christy Rodgers
Everywhere is War: Luke Mogelson’s These Heroic, Happy Dead: Stories
Ron Jacobs
Springsteen: Rockin’ the House in Albany, NY
Barbara Nimri Aziz
“The Martian”: This Heroism is for Chinese Viewers Too
Charles R. Larson
No Brainers: When Hitler Took Cocaine and Lenin Lost His Brain
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail