BOSTON — Republicans gathered in Worcester Wednesday night at a fundraiser for Senate candidate Gabriel Gomez, while earlier in the day Democrats turned out to hear first lady Michelle Obama speak at a fundraiser for Ed Markey.
The 275 guests who attended Markey’s event at the Taj Hotel in the Back Bay raised $600,000, according to the campaign. One of them was Joanna Broyer, of Brookline.
“I’m worried,” Broyer said, “because Gomez looks good on paper, as long as you don’t look below one level of paper. No matter what he says I think he will vote with the majority of Republicans and Markey will not. Markey will stand for gun control and for social services, and the things the government needs to do to help people.”
Shirley Partol, of Brookline, had similar concerns.
“And I think Gomez possibly can be a threat, and we’ve been surprised by people like Scott Brown before,” Partol said.
Jim Haber, of Wayland, expressed confidence in Markey.
“But it’s going to get uglier and there’s going to be a lot of outside money,” Haber predicted.
From the Taj, where rooms start at $350 a night, to Anthony’s Barber Shop, off a back parking lot in Worcester; that’s where Gomez, the man who worries some Democrats, was taking questions.
One woman asked whether he would support a federal law that would prohibit workplace discrimination against gays and lesbians.
In response, Gomez told a story about his time at the Naval Academy. Before he graduated, one of his best friends, No. 3 in the class, was called into the commandant’s office and was asked if he was gay. He stuck by the honor code, that you cannot lie, and he was kicked out two days later with no diploma.
“Didn’t get his commission, had to pay back part of his education, and I would have been proud to serve with this young man, anywhere, anyhow, anyplace,” Gomez said. “He was a good friend of mine, and is still a very good friend, a big supporter right now. He had proved himself more capable than any of us, quite frankly, and I don’t think there should be any kind of discrimination anywhere, under any kind of means, whether it’s race, gender, religion, or political belief.”
Gomez seemed unfazed by all the money raised at the Markey event.
“I hope he raises $600,000 from Michelle Obama,” Gomez said. “That’d be great. A lot of people would love to go see Mrs. Obama. That sounds awesome.”
But then again, in a state that loves the Obamas, maybe that was just the political answer a Republican candidate should give.