BOSTON — In the Massachusetts U.S. Senate race these days, the news is more about who’s not running than who is.
Ever since Scott Brown stunned the Republican Party with his announcement last week that he would not try for the Senate one more time, Republicans, one after another, have ultimately given the race a pass.
Here’s who’s out: former Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey; Mitt Romney’s son, Tagg; Worcester County Sheriff Lew Evangelidis; and former state Sen. Richard Tisei. All of them have said over the last few days they’re not running. GOP political consultant Meredith Warren is not surprised.
“We’re looking at the same landscape that we faced three months ago, when the GOP got completely creamed,” Warren said, “and Brown, who was our best-shot candidate, looked at that landscape and decided it’s not doable, so it’s very hard to imagine a rock-star candidate out there right now who could look at that landscape who could see anything different.”
But some candidates do see an opportunity. And they’ve been talking to the new chair of the Massachusetts Republican Party, Kirsten Hughes.
“There are a couple of folks who have reached out to me personally,” Hughes said. “Dan Winslow, who’s a state representative, and then also a gentleman down on the South Shore, from Cohasset. His name is Gabriel Gomez.”
Gomez has been meeting with Republicans in Washington, and he’s been impressing them. He is a principal in a Boston private equity firm, Advent International. He is a graduate of the Naval Academy and Harvard Business School, and a former SEAL and aircraft carrier pilot.
According to Federal Elections Commission reports, Gomez actually contributed $230 to the Obama campaign in 2007. In the last election, though, he contributed $2,500 to Republican presidential nominee Romney and joined a group that funded a documentary accusing President Obama of taking too much credit for killing Osama bin Laden.
On Tuesday morning, Winslow is expected to announce whether he is going to run. When Romney was governor, Winslow was his legal counsel.
Congressman and Democratic candidate Ed Markey predicts Republicans will give Democrats a tough race.
“I’m quite confident that the Republicans are going to find a very strong candidate, a very vigorous contestant in trying to win this seat,” Markey said.
An adviser to Markey’s Democratic opponent, U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch, says his team fully expects the GOP to have a strong candidate.
But on the Republican side, not everyone is so sure. Brown rocked the party by pulling out of the race the day after he pulled out all the stops to make sure his candidate, Hughes, was elected chair. The party has yet to do any of the rebuilding necessary to compete effectively with the formidable grassroots operation of the Massachusetts Democratic Party.
And one Republican political consultant says the New England soil is not favorable to his party, and predicts this race will see what he calls only second-tier Republican candidates.