Call it a stealth campaign: Gabriel E. Gomez, a former Navy SEAL, has been virtually unseen since he announced his candidacy for US Senate.
No celebratory campaign announcement. No daily public schedule. No interviews or public appearances.
Eleven days after Gomez emerged as a candidate and 67 days before the primary, the Republicans’ fresh face remains largely a mystery.
His arms-length campaign is concerning to some who regard the political unknown as a promising newcomer with an impressive biography. The campaign has said he will not appear publicly until after next week’s deadline to qualify for the ballot, though he has hired a firm to help gather the 10,000 voter signatures necessary to clear that hurdle.
The first time many voters saw him since his online announcement, was in a Web video, released Thursday. In the video, his wife and children join him in seeking voters’ support at the Hingham Shipyard and Gomez chats with patrons at Mul’s Diner, a regular candidate campaign stop in South Boston.
Campaign adviser Leonardo Alcivar would not say how often Gomez is meeting with voters or where or even whether his visits are scheduled in advance. Gomez is spending 24 hours a day assembling a campaign and preparing for a run, Alcivar said.
“That means building a team, focusing like a laser, gathering signatures, meeting with voters, talking with activists and elected officials, and putting together a fund-raising plan that will ensure we have the necessary resources to compete,” said Alcivar.
Gomez, the only candidate for US Senate who has yet to do an interview, is also probably the least known to voters. His prior political experience includes a single unsuccessful run for selectman in the town of Cohasset, where he lives.
Michael J. Sullivan is a former US attorney and former district attorney; since he entered the race last week, he has been gathering signatures and reintroducing himself to voters in television interviews.
State Representative Daniel B. Winslow of Norfolk has worked as a judge and as a lawyer for both Governor Mitt Romney’s administration and Scott Brown’s first campaign for US Senate. Winslow said in an interview that he has been meeting with town committee members, voters, and even high school students across the state. He recently was asked to speak at a meeting of the Republican Town Committee in Hingham, near Cohasset.
Eric Haskell, chairman of the Hingham Republican Town Committee, who has decided to support Winslow, said any of the candidates would be welcome to introduce themselves to his group. He has not heard from Gomez’s campaign.
“I have to say, I don’t really know anything about Gabriel Gomez and what he stands for, except what I’ve seen in the media,” said Haskell. “Frankly, it has surprised me because in a short time frame, low-turnout election like this, it’s important not to waste any time. It’s important to be aggressive about getting your name and your message out there.”
The Democrats competing for the primary nomination are already sitting congressmen with broad name recognition. US Representatives Edward J. Markey of Malden and Stephen F. Lynch of South Boston. Markey and Lynch regularly put out a daily schedules of events and campaigned this past week in Western Massachusetts.
Political observers said that first-timers like Gomez have much to do to prepare for the rigorous scrutiny of a run for higher office. Typically, candidates spend time preparing not just their speeches but their very stances with the help of communications and policy specialists who help them sort out nuances they might not have considered, veteran Democratic strategist Tad Devine said. He has groomed private-sector candidates including John Edwards and John Corzine for their first forays into politics in Senate races in North Carolina and New Jersey.
“It’s very different even from what he’s done with his life, whether in high finance or military,” Devine said of Gomez, who is not a client. “Even knowing your own position on issues. Maybe you haven’t thought a lot about the ramifications of the meaning of parental consent as it pertains to the issue of abortion of a young girl victim of incest. It gets very complicated very quickly.”
Gomez, a private equity investor and former Navy SEAL who is a son of Colombian immigrants, launched his candidacy in a video announcement that emphasized his eclectic biography.
Each candidate has until Feb. 27 to collect 10,000 certified signatures from voters to qualify for the April 30 primary.