Fresh off his victory in the Republican primary, former U.S. Navy SEAL Gabriel Gomez is set to run against Democratic challenger Ed Markey for Massachusetts’ vacant seat in the Senate.
Gomez, 47, won a three-way Republican primary Tuesday, placing him in direct contention for the Senate seat vacated in January, when John Kerry became secretary of state, NewsMax reports.
In addition to his distinguished military background, Gomez’s moderate social views and distinguished resume would seem to make him a solid candidate to win June’s special election. However, it will be difficult for Gomez to overcome Massachusetts’ Democratic bias; only 11 percent of the state’s population are registered Republicans, the Associated Press reports.
Still, the state’s Republican leaders aren’t ready to concede defeat just yet.
"As we've shown before in the state, anything can happen in a special election," Republican strategist Ron Kaufman, Massachusetts' national committeeman, told AP.
In the 2010 special election, little-known Republican state Sen. Scott Brown upset a heavily favored Democratic challenger to seize a U.S. Senate seat. The race, which received national attention, effectively amounted to a referendum on President Barack Obama’s health care reform measures, AP reports.
Regardless of its outcome, this summer’s special election is unlikely to draw similar attention. Democrats currently hold a 55-45 majority in the U.S. Senate and will maintain their advantage no matter who wins.
Still, Massachusetts’ Democratic Party leaders aren’t planning on taking the special election for granted.
"We have absolutely learned a lesson. As long as I'm around, we will never leave primary day thinking we're all set," Massachusetts Democratic Party Chairman John Walsh said Tuesday.
Markey echoed Walsh’s sentiment in his Democratic primary victory speech.
"This election, ladies and gentleman, will not be easy," Markey said, adding that the state’s Republicans were willing to "move mountains of money to buy this election."
Despite that allegation, Markey holds a significant advantage over Gomez in terms of campaign funding. The veteran congressman led all other candidates in fundraising and has the full support of the state’s Democratic apparatus, according to AP.
Meanwhile, Gomez, a Harvard Business School graduate, has relied largely on his own funds to finance his political ambitions. He has already loaned more than $600,000 to his campaign, according to AP. He also has the support of the Committee for a Better Massachusetts, a so-called super PAC advised by Eric Fehrnstrom, a former top aide to Mitt Romney.
Gomez, who has never run for political office, appears ready to bring a new voice to the Senate race.
"If you're looking for an experienced, slick-talking politician, I'm definitely not your guy," Gomez told supporters Tuesday night. "If you are looking for an independent voice, a new kind of Republican, take a look at our campaign, and I'd welcome your support.”