Feigned Umbrage in the Mass Senate Race

Dave Weigel’s recent Slate piece about Gabriel Gomez’s reliance on feigned indignation and disgust is a good one.

Essentially, because Gomez cannot campaign on any particular policy issue or viable legislative proposal, the use of umbrage as a sort of deflector shield is really unavoidable. Because Markey has a lot more money than Gomez, he will have no trouble flooding the zone with shots at Gomez. The problem for Gomez is that crying foul on your opponent’s campaign rhetoric is defense, not offense. Understandably, Gomez is trying desperately to spin his defensiveness as offense by exaggerating the supposed dishonesty of Markey’s ads. Weigel’s piece, however, shows how this kind of exaggeration is a double-edged sword.

As long as the race is perceived as a tit-for-tat affair Gomez will be unable to close the considerable distance between himself and Markey. If boilerplate anti-politician rhetoric and “new” ideas like term limits and withholding Congressional pay are all Gomez has to offer, then I assume his handlers are playing for a big Markey mistake.

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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One Response to Feigned Umbrage in the Mass Senate Race

  1. Brad Lovoi says:

    If Gomez is hoping to parley his impending loss in June into another run in 2014, he isn’t helping himself very much.

    Recall Joe Malone’s 1988 campaign against Ted Kennedy where Malone campaigned as a happy warrior and was able to increase his visibility and favorability for a winning statewide run in 1990. Gomez had a chance to do this, but has let Markey define him and really has not done himself much good. “Throw the incumbents out” works in a primary, but in a general election voters want some substance.

    Markey is playing it safe and running out the clock. I think he wins by at least 12-15 points. If Gomez was a better campaigner and had a message beyond that he isn’t from Washington it would be closer.

    I think that Markey could be somewhat vulnerable against a better GOP candidate – but that candidate does not exist this year.

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