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May 01, 2013 9:11 AM Not Another Coakley Campaign

By Ed Kilgore

After yesterday’s micro-turnout special primary election, Massachusetts voters will now choose between long-time Democratic congressman Ed Markey and unknown Republican former SEAL and private equity investor Gabriel Gomez in a special general election seven weeks from yesterday.

If the Boston Globe’s coverage of this race is any indication, there’s a powerful desire to turn Gomez into Scott Brown and this election into a rerun of the 2010 special election to succeed Ted Kennedy.

Gomez has said he wants to “reboot” Congress with a pay freeze, term limits, and a lifetime ban on lobbying. A social moderate and fiscal conservative, he has a compelling personal story as the son of Colombian immigrants who grew up to be a Navy pilot and SEAL and went to Harvard Business School before going into business.
Gomez’s only previous political experience was the run for selectman in Cohasset, in which he came in third out of three candidates.
While he’s likely to face an uphill battle in traditionally Democratic Massachusetts, so did Brown, who was a little-known state lawmaker from Wrentham when he beat Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley in the January 2010 special election to fill the seat left vacant by the death of long-time liberal senator Edward M. Kennedy.

Gomez may or may not be another Scott Brown, but the real question in Massachusetts is whether Ed Markey’s campaign will resemble Martha Coakley’s, by general assent one of the worst statewide campaigns in living memory, anywhere, suffering from strategic problems, scheduling problems, media problems, candidate-gaffe problems, and money problems. The Markey campaign will benefit from knowledge of the mistakes of 2010. So it may not matter how much Gomez winds up resembling Brown, who got every imaginable break, including the element of surprise. You never know for sure, but this is one case where lightning is very unlikely to strike twice.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

Comments

  • catclub on May 01, 2013 9:31 AM:

    I also think that the fact that Brown's Wife is a prominent TV news person had a large impact, getting a free benefit of the doubt from everyone in her class of grifter.

  • Peter C on May 01, 2013 9:33 AM:

    The Boston Globe would REALLY like this to be a horse-race (since that sells papers). It is in their interest to make it seem much closer than it is.

    Still, I'd like Ed Markey to run as if it were a close election. That's always a good strategy.

  • c u n d gulag on May 01, 2013 9:39 AM:

    I suspect that once you scratch his surface long and hard enough, this Gomez guy will turn out to be the NE's version of Ted Cruz.

    You know what to do, Liberals, Progressives, and Democrats in MA.

    GOTV!!!

  • DRF on May 01, 2013 9:52 AM:

    A Congressional pay freeze, term limits and a lifetime ban on lobbying? That's Gomez's platform? Well, sure, if we only adopted those policies, we wouldn't have any of this deadlock and disfunction. Those are the causes of our problems, not Republican obstructionism and excessive partisanship?

    If that's really what Gomez is about, then he's a naive idiot.

  • Gandalf on May 01, 2013 9:57 AM:

    I think the chances of me ever voting for any republicans in their current incarnation is as good as a ufo picking me up for a joy ride. But there's nothing wrong with a pay freeze, term limits and a lifetime ban on lobbying now is there?

  • Steve LaBonne on May 01, 2013 10:14 AM:

    There's everything wrong with term limits. Turning people out of an institution as soon as they've actually started to figure out how to do their jobs is a recipe for even worse dysfunction (and that's been actual the effect in states like Ohio that have adopted term limits). And would you really want to term-limit Sherrod Brown or Elizabeth Warren?

  • Michelle on May 01, 2013 10:14 AM:

    Gomez was the spokesman for the group that tried to swift boat Obama over the Bin Laden raid.

    I have NO RESPECT for the guy.

  • Peter C on May 01, 2013 10:22 AM:

    I'm all for the lobbying ban, but combining it with a pay freeze maskes no sense. Campaigns are too expensive. If the pay in office is bad, the only people who will be able to afford to run will be millionaires. They are WAY over-represented as it is.

    This combination of issues brands Gomez as a faux-populist opportunist. He's stringing together a word-salad of attractive-sounding buzz words.

  • sacman701 on May 01, 2013 11:25 AM:

    "Gomez was the spokesman for the group that tried to swift boat Obama over the Bin Laden raid."

    This. Gomez is a swiftboater. Run a hard negative campaign focusing on this, and wrap it up early.

  • Geds on May 01, 2013 11:54 AM:

    Gomez may or may not be another Scott Brown, but the real question in Massachusetts is whether Ed Markey’s campaign will resemble Martha Coakley’s, by general assent one of the worst statewide campaigns in living memory, anywhere, suffering from strategic problems, scheduling problems, media problems, candidate-gaffe problems, and money problems. The Markey campaign will benefit from knowledge of the mistakes of 2010.

    Brother Pierce says that Markey is just about the best retail politician in the Commonwealth (God Save It!). I take that as a pretty good indication that he doesn't need to learn from Coakley's mistakes in 2010 since he wouldn't have made them in the first place.

    And bear in mind that the Boston Globe is nothing if not Boston's equivalent of the Washington Times. They'd probably be doing their damnedest to convince everyone that a pair of unwashed gym socks is the next Scott Brown.