The Salem News
---- — Americans say consistently that they are fed up with Congress and Washington.
They don’t like the vicious politics, the cronyism that rewards the politically connected at the expense of ordinary citizens, the craven refusal to tackle issues that really matter, even as the nation heads toward the fiscal brink.
Many are so fed up they no longer bother to vote. And that will likely be the case again in Tuesday’s special election to choose a successor to U.S. Sen. John Kerry. All signs point to low voter turnout. Beyond the usual political alienation, it’s summer, schools are out, and the Bruins have all of New England fixated on their run for a second Stanley Cup in three years.
But if you care about the direction the country is heading, it would be a mistake to sit out this election.
Massachusetts voters have an opportunity to send a message that will be heard in the halls of Congress and around the country by choosing as their senator someone who is not part of the Washington establishment and who will challenge its partisan, dysfunctional culture.
The candidates are Democratic Congressman Ed Markey and Republican Gabriel Gomez.
Markey is a career politician who has spent 37 years in Congress with little to show for it except a record of lockstep party-line voting. Washington is his real home; it’s where his heart is.
“You are Washington, D.C., and you own the national debt, sir,” Gomez told Markey at one of their three spirited debates.
But this isn’t so much about Ed Markey as it is about Gabriel Gomez.
Gomez is a political newcomer at age 47. That’s because he hasn’t spent his entire adult life running for office.
Instead, the son of Colombian immigrants to Los Angeles chose a career in the Navy and won appointment to the U.S. Military Academy at Annapolis. He served as an aircraft carrier pilot, then became a Navy SEAL.
After leaving the Navy in 1996, Gomez earned an MBA from Harvard Business School and went on to earn millions as a private equity investor, money that helped fuel his entry into politics.
But it’s not just his biography that Massachusetts voters should find appealing. As a candidate, Gomez has demonstrated the kind of independence and focus on issues like the state of the nation’s finances and economy that Americans say they want in their representatives in Congress.
Though his opponent tries to paint him as one, Gomez is far from being a Republican ideologue. He parts ways with many in the conservative wing of his party on social issues. He supports gay marriage — “I oppose discrimination of any kind,” he says. He favors expanded background checks for firearms purchases. And he says it’s time for bipartisan immigration reform, but starting with secured borders.
But Gomez is a true fiscal conservative. Washington has a spending problem, he says, not a revenue problem. The federal government is a “bloated organization” that has run us into a $16 trillion debt while hobbling job creation with burdensome regulations and taxes.
In reality, Gomez is a throwback to such old-line Massachusetts moderates as former governors Bill Weld and the late Paul Cellucci. And like those Republicans, Gomez can win even in deep-blue Massachusetts.
Polls show him within striking distance of frontrunner Markey. And the nasty and dishonest attacks hurled Gomez’s way in the final weeks of the campaign betray a sense of panic that also shows the race is tighter than some had expected.
All Gomez needs to win is for those who are dissatisfied with Washington’s politics as usual to turn out to vote on Tuesday.
We believe Gabriel Gomez will bring fresh ideas and attitudes to Washington, a place badly in need of both, and we are pleased to endorse him for U.S. Senate.