Gomez tries to fight off Markey slam on GOP help
QUINCY — Facing criticism over the support he has drawn from Washington-based Republicans, US Senate nominee Gabriel E. Gomez sought Monday to distance himself from the national party.
“I’m going to win this with or without D.C.,” Gomez said during a campaign stop in Quincy, trying to rebut a charge by his Democratic opponent, US Representative Edward J. Markey, that Gomez would serve as a foot soldier for the national Republican agenda, which has repeatedly proven a political liability in liberal Massachusetts.
But Gomez’s campaign struggled to respond Monday to Markey aides’ charges that the Republican is being subsidized by the very same conservatives he had claimed earlier would not necessarily receive his support.
Gomez’s campaign has bought roughly $400,000 in television airtime, paid for in part by the state Republican Party, according to campaign officials. The ad, which will air in the Boston and Springfield markets, comes on the heels of a previous media buy of roughly the same size, which ran from May 17 through May 26.
At the end of April, the state GOP had $361,000 in cash, according to Federal Election Commission filings. National parties can contribute to state parties and local campaigns, who can then spend the money as their own. Gomez held a Boston fund-raiser last month, headlined by Senator John McCain of Arizona, whose proceeds went into a joint committee set up by the Gomez campaign and the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
Markey’s campaign ripped Gomez Monday for relying on national GOP cash even while working to delineate between himself and party leaders.
“The national Republican Party is trying to use this election as part of their efforts to obstruct President Obama’s every move while enacting a radical right-wing GOP agenda, and Gabriel Gomez’s laughable claims of independence that come at the very moment he’s launching a TV ad buy paid for with money from national Republicans have no credibility,” said Markey spokesman Andrew Zucker.
At a Quincy diner Monday morning, Gomez insisted that he differs with his party on issues such as climate change and gun control and sharply criticized Markey for accepting over $3.5 million in special interest money.
Markey’s campaign posted a video Saturday seeking to tie Gomez to the national GOP, a time-honored Democratic technique to position more moderate Massachusetts Republicans as being in the thrall of conservative national figures.
Gomez’s campaign, though, insists that the former US Navy SEAL and private equity investor has cultivated a moderate, independent profile that shields him from such arguments.
Gomez charged Monday that Markey was trying to campaign against Republicans with whom Gomez said he had no connection.
“If anybody is in the pocket of anybody, it’s my opponent,” Gomez said during a stop at McKay’s, a popular Quincy diner.
The Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell, sent a fund-raising e-mail Friday on Gomez’s behalf, pitching a Gomez victory as “crucial to taking back the Senate.” The National Republican Senatorial Committee has also shipped staff to Massachusetts to assist the Gomez campaign.
“Just because somebody or some group supports or endorses me . . . by no means do I necessarily support or endorse them,’’ Gomez said. “I didn’t ask Mitch McConnell to write that e-mail, I could have cared less if he’d written that e-mail or not.”
To undercut that contention, Markey has been mentioning McConnell’s letter at nearly every stop he has made since Friday, at one point calling it a “defining moment in this entire race.”
On Monday, he brought up the letter while campaigning with Caroline Kennedy at the Hebrew Senior Life building in Brookline and then again when speaking to reporters.
“Mitch McConnell sees Gabriel Gomez as a big gain for the Republican Party, as an important step towards control of the United States Senate by the Republican Party,” Markey told reporters, as Kennedy looked on.
Markey and Gomez will meet for their first debate on Wednesday night. On Monday, Gomez pointed to Markey’s 37 years in Washington as an indication that the Malden Democrat would perform well, “in terms of expectations.”
Candidates frequently try to frame their opponents as better debaters as a way of managing predebate perceptions.
“I’m sure he’s a much better debater,” Gomez said.
After Gomez left McKay’s, the diner where he greeted prospective voters, state Democratic Party chairman John Walsh stood outside the restaurant in the drizzle and told reporters that Gomez would be a “full partner” with the national GOP establishment.