Gabriel E. Gomez, a former US Navy SEAL who is running for the Republican nomination for US Senate, promised to support President Obama’s agenda on immigration and gun control in a letter he wrote to Governor Deval Patrick in January asking him to appoint him to the interim Senate seat.
The Gomez campaign released the letter Wednesday, as well as some personal financial information showing that Gomez, a private equity investor from Cohasset, earned $8.5 million in adjusted gross income from 2007 to 2011.
The letter could create problems for Gomez in the GOP primary, because the seat was widely understood to be a Democratic placeholder and because Gomez tries to appeal to the Democratic governor by praising him and vowing to help Obama.
The letter also appears to contradict at least one policy position, on guns, that Gomez has taken on the campaign trail.
Gomez wrote the missive at a time when Patrick had publicly stated that he was looking for a strong ally to fill John F. Kerry’s Senate seat.
In the letter, Gomez tells Patrick that appointing him to the job would help bring the parties together and “would reinforce your growing national reputation for bold and thoughtful leadership.”
“I fully understand that naming a moderate Republican like me would be completely unconventional,” Gomez writes in the two-page letter dated January 17. “However, given the partisan and acrimonious atmosphere in the US Senate today, this is even more of a reason to consider appointing a moderate Republican with my background. I supported President Obama in 2008. I strongly believe that this appointment would be good for the Democrats as well, since it is in everyone’s interest to have the two parties at the negotiating table.”
Gomez hand-delivered the letter to Patrick’s chief of staff, William “Mo” Cowan, and never heard back from the governor. Two weeks later, Patrick named Cowan to the seat.
On Wednesday, Gomez defended his decision to seek the appointment from Patrick, saying, “I had the guts to ask him.”
Gomez has previously acknowledged that he asked Patrick to name him to the Senate but released the letter on Wednesday, after he was questioned about it during the first Republican primary debate.
In his pitch to the governor, Gomez predicts that guns and immigration will dominate the debate during his appointed tenure and says, “I support the positions President Obama has taken on these issues, and you can be assured I will keep my word and work on these issues as I have promised.”
Now, as a candidate for the Senate seat, Gomez has said he opposes a federal assault weapons ban, a key element of Obama’s gun-control agenda. On immigration, Gomez has said he supports “some kind of pathway to citizenship” but has not embraced Obama’s plan.
On Wednesday, Gomez's rivals pounced on the letter to question his honesty and Republican credentials.
“How can voters ever trust Gomez again when he tells Governor Patrick one thing in a private letter that he never thought would see the light of day and then tells Republican primary voters something completely different on very important issues?” said Charles Pearce, a spokesman for Daniel B. Winslow, a state representative running for Senate. “He can’t have it both ways, and I think the voters of Massachusetts will see through his double-dealing.”
Paul Moore, campaign manager for Michael J. Sullivan, a former US attorney running for Senate, said it was clear why Gomez was initially reluctant to release the letter.
“It will probably be somewhat difficult to explain to Republican primary voters why he supported the president and so many of his policies as recently as January,” Moore said.
Gomez said he does not regret writing the letter.“Like many independent-minded people, I believed Governor Patrick had an opportunity to reach across the aisle and appoint a new Republican voice to help solve our spending problem and to represent all the people of Massachusetts,” he said Wednesday.
Gomez, who has vowed to release six years of tax returns, released a snippet of financial information showing that he paid an effective tax rate of 21 percent on earnings of $8.5 million from 2007 to 2011.