More and more Americans say they’re fed up with national politics. And it’s hard to blame them, with partisan-rooted gridlock the order of the day, and “sequestration” budget cuts hitting private sector companies while public-sector employees like those at NOAA sail along with nary a missed day or paycheck?
Indeed, many folks are so fed up they no longer bother to vote, and that may well prove the case again in next Tuesday’s special election in Massachusetts to choose a successor to U.S. Sen. John F. Kerry. All the signs point to low voter turnout. And even beyond the usual political alienation, it’s summer, schools are out and the Bruins have all of New England fixated on their run for a second Stanley Cup in three years.
But it would be a mistake to sit this election out. That’s because Massachusetts voters have an opportunity to send a message that will be heard in the halls of Congress and around the country by choosing as their senator someone who is not part of the Washington establishment and who will challenge its partisan, dysfunctional culture.
That someone is Republican Gabriel Gomez, the private-sector businessman who is taking on Ed Markey, a career politician who has spent 37 years in Congress with little to show for it except a record of lockstep party line voting. On the surface, he’s from Malden, but Washington is his real home; it’s where his heart is, and where much of his support is coming from.
In those 37 years, Markey has mastered the political spin game. He’s convinced some voters and backers, for instance, that he supports Gloucester’s and Massachusetts’ fishermen, when in fact he’s the only seacoast lawmaker in the state delegation to come out against adding more and badly needed flexibility to the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and he’s an ardent supporter of President Obama’s so-called “ocean zoning” plan that would inevitably bring new fishery closures. To be fair, he has supported providing emergency aid to the fishing industry — he would, in other words, throw a lot more money at the problem, but without the true reforms fishermen need.
Gomez, on the other hand, is a political newcomer at age 47. That means he hasn’t spent his entire adult life running for office. Instead, the son of Colombian immigrants to Los Angeles chose a career in the Navy and won appointment to the U.S. Military Academy at Annapolis. He served first as an aircraft carrier pilot, then became a Navy SEAL. And after leaving the Navy in 1996, Gomez earned an MBA degree from Harvard Business School and went on to earn millions as a private equity investor, money that helped fuel his entry into politics.
As a candidate, Gomez has demonstrated the kind of independence and focus on issues like the state of the nation’s finances and economy that Americans say they want in their representatives in Congress. And he has come up in support of fishery reforms.
Though his opponent tries to paint him as one, Gomez is far from being a Republican ideologue. He parts ways with many in the conservative wing of his party on social issues.
He supports gay marriage — “I oppose discrimination of any kind,” he says. He favors expanded background checks for firearms purchases. He also says it’s time for bipartisan immigration reform, but starting with secured borders. And he is a true fiscal conservative.
Perhaps above all, he knows that Washington has a spending problem, not a revenue problem, noting that the federal government is a “bloated organization” that has run us into a $16 trillion debt while hobbling job creation with burdensome regulations and taxes.
In reality, Gomez is a throwback to such old-line Massachusetts moderates as former governors Bill Weld and the late Paul Celucci. And like those Republicans, we’d like to think Gomez can win — even in deep blue Massachusetts. That’s because he will bring fresh ideas and attitudes to Washington, a place badly in need of both.
All Gomez needs to win is for those dissatisfied with Washington’s politics as usual to stand up for what they believe and go to the polls on Tuesday.
He’s our choice for the U.S. Senate seat — and he deserves your vote.