By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Gomez-mania and its limits

Gabriel Gomez working the crowd

Gabriel Gomez meeting and greeting

Watching TV and following Twitter last night, I saw a lot of praise for Gabriel Gomez’s running a credible campaign and doing better than expected.

Really? Gomez lost by 10 points. Scott Brown lost by eight last November. Although Gomez didn’t have to contend with President Obama being on the ballot, as Brown did, a low turnout was supposed to help Gomez — and he certainly got that.

My guess is that Gomez got the bare minimum of votes available to virtually any Republican and failed to build on it at all. The fact is that he lost by a substantial margin to Ed Markey, an uninspiring Democratic candidate. (A fading Brown did better against Elizabeth Warren, a rock star compared to Markey.) The extent of Gomez’s defeat was right in line with most of the polls, so he most definitely did not do better than expected.

I doubt any Republican can win federal office in Massachusetts right now because congressional Republicans are so unpopular here. But Gomez didn’t help himself by claiming to be a moderate, taking clear stands against abortion rights and gun control, and then ludicrously trying to convince voters that he’d done no such thing.

Sorry, folks. A star wasn’t born last night.

Photo (cc) by Mark Sardella and published under a Creative Commons license. Some rights reserved.

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  1. I was confused by your headline (what mania?) but the article clarified it.

    I wonder about whether a Republican can win statewide here. It would require energizing “independents” with centrism (Republicans must win indies 2-1) while not turning off the Republican base. Gomez did neither. It requires great political talent to accomplish that two-fer.

    I suspect Brown would have done better against Markey than he did against Warren. Warren ran a very exciting, motivating campaign – Markey, not so much. (Barney Keller says Brown would have lost, too, and he might have better judgment than I about it.)

    • Dan Kennedy

      @Steve: Barney is right. Federal office is now closed to Republicans in Massachusetts. But I think the right Republican could easily be elected governor.

  2. Mike LaBonte

    The Gomez loss is made more stark by that fact that it was a statewide race. Massachusetts is considered a Democratic stronghold, but that is fueled by heavy Gerrymandering that skews district level races. Get the whole state voting and it actually looks much more moderate. That’s how we got Scott Brown and a string of Republican governors.

    Gomez knew the national Republican party was his main enemy and he did his best to differentiate himself, even promising to push for change. Republicans have got to be wondering what more could they do to win in this state? But it’s hard to believe that someone with no history of trying to change his party can/will do that, the challenge is just so immense. And Dan is right that the history Gomez does have shows he is at best coming to the realization a bit late that the party has problems.

  3. Patricia Bennett

    I thought Gomez did quite well against an entrenched politician. How many of us even heard of Gomez a couple of years ago? It’s not like he’s spent his life in politics. No, he came out of no where and made it that far. I say good on him.

    • Dan Kennedy

      @Patricia: What is your definition of “that far”? He got smoked.

      • Patricia Bennett

        Markey got 55%, Gomez 45% and Heos <1%. I think getting 45% of the votes against a 35+ yr politician that had the President, VP and campaigned in a one party state is pretty impressive. And again, it's not like Gomez had any name recognition and has never ran for office. I'm still impressed

        • Dan Kennedy

          @Patricia: There is a word for losing by 10 points. That word is “landslide.”

  4. Thank you for challenging the apparently prevailing wisdom that Gomez ran a credible campaign. Gomez’ autobiography, appealing as it may be and also the dominant feature in his concession speech, should not obscure his failure to demonstrate a deep understanding of issues, procedures, and policy. Markey’s speech last night, in vivid contrast, prominently included his issues. The juxtaposition made me feel even better about my choice.

  5. Michael Goldman

    With all do respect to those spinning they are happy with a ten point loss, the term that best describes that gap is LANDSLIDE!
    The truth is Gomez told the truth in yesterdays Herald that he believed the best man would win.
    He did!

    • Patricia Bennett

      I guess from each, our own perspectives and we will agree to disagree.

  6. The most recent “up-and-coming” pols in Massachusetts, Republicrat as well as Demopublican, have been unprincipled opportunists, in the extreme.

    Gomez already wants to climb to the top in politics, with no prior political experience.

    Scott Brown took advantage of two special elections. He fooled the talk radio “conservatives” into promoting him as a “conservative.” It is unbelievable just how far off into their own fantasy worlds those clowns on the radio can be.

    Until last year, Elizabeth Warren had no political experience, and was known mainly for her putting together the destructively corporatist Dodd-Frank bureaucracy, despite her lack of knowledge or experience in finance or economics. Like Brown, Warren is an ignoramus.

    And like Sean Bielat, Gabriel Gomez could have been a little more patient in attempting to begin a political career. They might have had better luck had they began by running for a state legislative office. But noooooo, like Elizabeth Warren, they both want it all, they want to be at the top, and they want it now. That is a reflection of our immediate-gratification society now.

    But, as I have said before, the good news is that Scott Brown and Gabriel Gomez lost, but the bad news is that Warren and Markey won.

    So, as Hans-Hermann Hoppe has observed, Democracy, is the God That Failed. Perhaps we should try something new. Like “freedom.”

  7. Message from Patricia Daukantas:

    When I look at the Globe’s interactive graphic of statewide results, I’m struck by the regional segregation of the D’s and the R’s. With a few exceptions, Greater Boston, the outer Cape and Islands, and western Mass. are all blue and central and southeastern Mass. are red. It almost reminds me of the nation’s growing bicoastal political segregation.

  8. Mike Benedict

    Patricia, Markey didn’t have name recognition, either. That was part of his problem. The other part is he’s just another party hack. The Democrats (of which I am one) are learning the hard way that being in power and being incompetent are incompatible traits. The problem is that the GOP has given up on Massachusetts, failing to recognize that if they would run a clean campaign, rising above all the vitriol, they would have a great chance at winning some of these seats. There are a lot of unhappy Democrats in Mass. right now, for myriad reasons.

    • Patricia Bennett

      Mike, did you mean to say Markey did not have name recognition? He’s been a 35+ year politician. If that’s what you said, it does not reflect well on Markey.

      • Mike Benedict

        That’s absolutely what I meant to say. No one knows who Markey is. He’s not Barney Frank or a Kennedy. He doesn’t have his name on a single piece of significant legislation. His only claim to fame is the length of time he’s served doing nothing.

  9. Lou Gawab

    45% of the people did not want Ed Markey……that’s a LOT of people.

  10. Lou Gawab

    BTW…is anyone embarassed by the Markey Ads? “Gomex is a Baaaaa-d man! He’ll take away your SS benefits!”

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