Gomez Still Not Ready for Primetime

Gabriel Gomez’s recent outburst at conservative activists included the following line: “[T]he level of ignorance and intolerance exhibited by them and their small ‘Klan’ are an embarrassment to our civil society.” Likening right wing activists to the KKK isn’t particularly radical, but Gomez later decided that an apology was in order. It was this apology that signaled Gomez’s lack of fitness for electoral politics.

On his Facebook page Gomez prefaced his apology with a line about how real leaders admit their mistakes. In other words, he took credit for his apology even before making it. According to the Boston Globe article linked above, Gomez also tried to deny that he was likening the targets of his criticism to the KKK, saying “If I wanted to refer to the Ku Klux Klan, I would have just said KKK.” Just as the cover ups tend to be worse than the crimes in politics, sometimes the apologies are worse for pols than the rhetorical crimes alleged. What this 0-2 pol’s ham fisted explanation tells us is that Mr. Gomez is too insecure and not quick enough on his feet to be a big league pol.

If Gabriel Gomez wants to be a politician, he needs to start very small and learn the basics. Unfortunately, even that may not be enough if what we’ve seen of him reflects his personality and temperament rather than just his place on the learning curve. The problem is that Mr. Gomez thinks that earning 45% of the vote in a U.S. Senate election is proof of his potential. What he doesn’t seem to realize is that “he” didn’t get 45%, the Republican nominee did. Any of the three candidates who ran for that nomination would have matched Gomez’s percentage in the general election because contemporary Massachusetts U.S. Senate elections are about political partisanship much more than they are about the candidates, a reality that neither Gomez nor his predecessor Scott Brown have ever been able to accept, though Brown’s move to the more Republican friendly Granite State may signal his advancement on the learning curve in this respect at least.

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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4 Responses to Gomez Still Not Ready for Primetime

  1. Ed Lyons says:

    Professor Duquette:

    It is disappointing to me that a single word on a Facebook feed of an unknown Republican activist (unknown outside the activist core) became this big issue. Mr. Gomez isn’t even in politics anymore!

    First, I will save other commentary about Red Mass Group for Professor Cunningham’s post.

    While I agree with your thinking that politics here are very partisan and the candidate often doesn’t matter very much, I do think Mr. Gomez’s 45% draw in the special election would have been greater than that of Representative Winslow, as Gomez had more money and far more media interested in his campaign. My guess is that Winslow would have gotten around 40%. Also, Attorney Michael Sullivan, while a great man with a great resume, had many views that were incompatible with that of the electorate in MA. I think he would have been rejected by more voters and many moderates would have stayed home. My guess is that he would have gotten in the mid 30s.

    I only make these points because while it may not seem like a big deal, the current war in the party is about whether we should support moderate candidates or conservative ones like Mr. Sullivan. Yes, this seems like a foolish thing to be debating, but Mr. Sullivan is who the activists want, and worse, think capable of winning a statewide election. The real reason the activists went crazy over Mr. Gomez is that they don’t want his moderate politics to be that of the party.

    • Jerold Duquette says:


      I think you detected my main points in this post, which were to once again re-emphasize the degree to which the candidates DONT matter in MA US Senate, and to highlight the fact that regardless of his policy views, Gomez doesn’t have the temperament or the political savvy to play in the big leagues. I don’t think I have any quibbles with your view of the relative strength of Sullivan/Winslow/Gomez.

      I also want to take this opportunity to thank you for you willingness to read and give thoughtful feedback to our commentary here at Masspoliticsprofs. Your comments always help restore my faith in the possibility of civil and intelligent dialogue in venues such as this.

      Happy New Year.


  2. Pete Morin says:

    I agree that his reaction to the controversy was worse than the original remark. Mr. Gomez has not shown himself to be very articulate. And the KKK response reeks of absurdity.

    However, he is simply the latest in a long string of “promising” new Republican candidates who insist on starting out at the top. Gomez is a decent fellow who’s accomplished a lot, and his story is impressive. But he is just not ready for prime time.

    Personally, though, nothing Gomez has said rivals the stunners that Ed Markey babbled during the campaign, capped off by the “it’s not math, it’s arithmetic” laffer.

    My regret is that, once again, the best candidate in that primary – Dan Winslow – has left politics. I regret we will never really know what contributions he would have made.

  3. Jim Walsh says:

    I liked your notion that ” If Gabriel Gomez wants to be a politician, he needs to start very small and learn the basics.” Not so much about Mr. Gomez, who has come and will go rather quickly, but more about Seth Moulton who wants to be the Democratic candidate for Congress in the 6th. Here we have a candidate who has never served on a Fincom or as a Selectman and he wants to primary a sitting Democrat, not on any policy issue, but simply to massage his own ambition and ego. His “claim to fame” is that he is a recent veteran. At a recent get together he was asked what his qualifications were and he replied, “I’m a vet.” To which his interlocutor replied, “Me too. So what? What else have you got?”

    It is as if wanting to participate in the governance of the biggest economy, biggest military establishment with the ability to bring the world to end, is just a part time gig to pad the old resume.

    It seems to me that experience in public affairs should be at least part of the qualifications one offers to the electorate.

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