Republican US Senate candidate Gabriel E. Gomez lost the support of two of the three leaders of his women’s coalition Thursday, a day after releasing a letter that showed him praising Governor Deval Patrick, a Democrat, and attesting to his support for President Obama in the 2008 election.
Angela Davis of Foxborough and Rachel Kemp of Boston both left the campaign less than a week after they were named cochairwomen of the Women for Gomez group.
Kemp confirmed her departure but would not comment on her reasoning. Davis also declined to detail her reasoning, but in a message obtained by the Globe, Davis told Gomez campaign aides she was quitting, saying, “The last 24 hours have been a turning point.”
A third cochairwoman, Janet Leombruno, apparently remains at the helm of the group, which is aimed at uniting women voters around the candidate.
On Wednesday, Gomez released the letter he wrote to the governor in January asking to be appointed to the Senate seat vacated by John F. Kerry. His choice of language took some by surprise. Gomez praised Patrick for his “bold and thoughtful leadership” and wrote that he had “supported President Obama in 2008.”
Like former US senator Scott Brown, Gomez presented himself as an independent-minded Republican who could work across the aisle and suggested that such a gesture would bring the parties together. Patrick ultimately appointed his chief of staff, William “Mo” Cowan, to the interim Senate seat.
Though it had been previously reported that Gomez had contributed to Obama’s primary campaign in 2008, he told NECN at his campaign kickoff earlier this month that he ultimately voted for “the Navy guy,” Republican presidential nominee John McCain. Gomez, a former Navy SEAL, reiterated Thursday to reporters that he voted for McCain.
On Thursday, his campaign’s Facebook page was peppered with posts questioning his statements about his 2008 vote and his commitment to Republican principles.
But some allies stood firm with Gomez, saying that the letter bolstered his profile as a candidate who could not be boxed in.
“I’m going to take him at his word that he voted for the Navy guy,” said Brent Andersen, a GOP state committee member who has endorsed Gomez.
Mindy McKenzie-Hebert, a Republican State Committee member from Shrewsbury who is a member of the Gomez women’s coalition, admired his willingness to step up to lead and to reach across the aisle to Democrats.
“Our party is definitely in need of the leadership that Gabriel Gomez provides,” she said. “I believe in a two-party system. You need people that are willing to work with the folks that are in charge.”
It wouldn’t trouble her, she said, if he had voted for Obama in 2008. “There’s a lot of people that voted for Obama,” she said. “I’m trying to get the people that voted for President Obama in 2008 to actually see the light.”
Gomez has presented himself as a nonpolitician who would shake up the status quo in the US Senate. On Thursday, he called for such provocative measures as congressional and Senate term limits, a freeze on congressional pay, and a lifetime ban preventing members of Congress from becoming lobbyists.
‘I believe in a two-party system. You need people that are willing to work with the folks that are in charge.’
In the April 30 Republican primary, Gomez faces two other contenders: state Representative Daniel B. Winslow of Norfolk and Michael J. Sullivan, a former US attorney from Abington. The Democratic candidates are US Representatives Stephen F. Lynch and Edward J. Markey.
The general election will be held June 25.Stephanie Ebbert can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @stephanieebbert.