QUINCY, Mass. — Republican U.S. Senate candidate Gabriel Gomez faced a barrage of questions at a press conference Thursday: about his position on abortion and about the tax break he received in exchange for restricting the modifications he could make on his home.
In turn, Gomez raised questions about his Democratic rival, Ed Markey.
There comes a time when a candidate new to politics and unschooled in the subtleties of issues before Congress faces broad scrutiny of his positions and his financial affairs. The news conference was that time for Gomez.
He wanted to talk about the scandals in Washington and the need for term limits for members of Congress. Instead, he was asked about an unpaid bill from a real estate appraiser.
“I’m surprised to hear this $1,000 bill after eight years,” Gomez replied. “Quite frankly, I don’t even recall the bill. Some people have suggested to me that he’s a big Democratic donor, and that this is just one of Congressman Markey’s dirty tricks, but I’ll tell you what: I’m going to take him at his word. We delivered a $1,000 check to him today, but I can guarantee you one thing: Unlike Congressman Markey, my check will not bounce.”
Markey wrote $47,000 in checks that exceeded his balance at the U.S. House of Representatives bank. The checks did not bounce because the bank offered members of Congress free overdrafts.
The real estate appraiser donated $200 to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in 2008, $250 to Martha Coakley in her U.S. Senate race in 2010 and $500 to Stephen Lynch in his primary race against Markey this year. He says he appraised the value of a preservation easement Gomez donated to a trust. The Boston Globe has reported that Gomez deducted $281,000 from his federal income taxes against the donation. A reporter asked Gomez if it’s fair to receive such a large tax deduction.
“I think you need to ask Congressman Markey why he voted for that, because I did everything under the law that Congressman Markey voted for, and that Senator Kerry, now Secretary of State Kerry, fully supported and lobbied for three years ago,” Gomez replied.
Gomez was also pressed on his position on abortion.
“I’ve been clear where I stand,” Gomez replied. “I’m Catholic. I was raised Catholic, and I’m personally pro-life, but I’m not going down to D.C. to change the law. I think what we can agree on — and this is pro-life and pro-choice, both sides — is that we shouldn’t have partial-birth abortion and we shouldn’t have taxpayer funds funding abortion. I believe that we should have parental consent.”
The issue of parental consent was a deciding factor in the 2002 race for the governor’s office between Republican Mitt Romney and Democrat Shannon O’Brien. Some voters said they chose Romney over O’Brien because she believed teenagers should be able to have abortions without parental consent.
Gomez also provided details on his position on contraception after sex.
“On the Plan B, contraception, you should be able to get that over the counter,” Gomez said. “I don’t think that a minor should be able to go do that herself. I think it needs to be with a parent.”
Gomez again turned the tables. He pointed out that Markey has yet to agree to debate him.
“And we challenged him May 1,” Gomez said. “It’s been over two weeks. And he doesn’t want to stand side by side by me because he knows that I have the issues with me.”
Wednesday night, the Gomez campaign expressed interest in a debate co-sponsored by WBUR. The Markey campaign has yet to respond to an invitation extended to them Thursday morning.
Gomez has released six years of tax returns. He pointed out that Markey has yet to release any of his tax returns. The Markey campaign said this week he would release his tax returns very soon.
It’s still a tight race. A Public Policy Polling survey conducted this week finds Markey leads Gomez by 7 percentage points.