Are Democrats Afraid of Gomez?

The Gomez Campaign thinks that Massachusetts Democrats are afraid to face the former Navy Seal in the general election for the US Senate. In an email solicitation out today the Gomez campaign quotes three prominent journalists to support that claim.

“Yesterday on MSNBC, Chuck Todd reported “I talked to many Democrats around here, and they’re only focused on one guy, and that’s Gomez. That’s the candidate they think, if he gets out of the primary, he presents a real threat in the special general election.”

Frank Phillips of the Boston Globe: “I have picked that up in the last couple of days. The Democratic leadership around here [Massachusetts] is getting very nervous about Gomez winning that election. They want Sullivan.”

David Bernstein: “I think it’s fair to say that Democrats would now much rather face Sullivan than Gomez.”

What should we make of the comments of these respected journalists? I have no doubt that they are accurately relaying comments from Democratic pols or consultants, but I can also assure you that these sentiments are either disingenuous or the product of the kind of anxiety that pols and political operatives frequently suffer from in the heat of a campaign, regardless of the state of the race.

In a way, professional political operatives are a lot like professional athletes; they can be very superstitious and they are almost always careful about “counting their chickens before they are hatched.” I discussed the “chicken little” tendencies of Massachusetts Democrats during the 2012 race between Elizabeth Warren and Scott Brown, and the day before Elizabeth Warren easily defeated Scott Brown, I spoke with a high-level Warren operative who sincerely tried to convince me that it would be “very close” and that they were “cautiously optimistic” but “taking nothing for granted.” The reality was very different, and this operative knew that intellectually, but didn’t want to say it out loud for fear of “jixing” it. The reality of the present race is also very different than these unnamed Democrats claim to believe.

That Democrats would prefer Sullivan to Gomez is a no brainer, but the implication that Democrats truly fear Gomez, or actually think he “presents a real threat in the special general election” is ludicrous. Sullivan would be the easiest candidate to beat, but that doesn’t make Gomez difficult to beat. A campaign against Gomez would be a bit more expensive, but no less winnable for Ed Markey.

Once again, I must caution; enjoy the hype, but don’t bet on it.

About Jerold Duquette

Jerold Duquette is an associate professor of political science at Central Connecticut State University. He is the author of Regulating the National Pastime: Baseball and Antitrust and has published articles and book chapters on campaign finance reform, political parties, Massachusetts politics and political culture, public opinion, and political socialization. Professor Duquette lives in Longmeadow, MA with his wife and four children.
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