Matt Lewis

Why aren’t national Republicans boosting Gabriel Gomez?

Matt K. Lewis Senior Contributor

ABC News Political Director Rick Klein’s latest report on the special election to replace John Kerry in the U.S. Senate notes that “national groups on the Republican side are notably silent, even as Democrats pour in outside support for Rep. Ed Markey.”

Klein goes on to write that allies of Republican challenger, Gabriel Gomez, “are beginning to sound off about the lack of support they’re drawing from national Republican donors, including the outside groups controlled by the likes of the Koch brothers and Karl Rove.”

“Brad Todd, a top Gomez strategist, said national Republicans appear to have grown too timid after the 2012 electoral wipeout. If they can’t support a Latino entrepreneur and military veteran against a career politician, he asked, what are they waiting for?”

This is obviously a last-minute attempt to shame national Republicans into pouring more money into Gomez’s campaign. It may be born of desperation, but it’s a strategy, and what do they have to lose?

* * *

Here’s the problem: Whereas former Sen. Scott Brown — who won a similar election a few years ago — was able to sound like a moderate at home while simultaneously galvanizing conservatives around the quixotic notion that he would stop Obamacare, Gomez lacks a similar raison d’être.

His pitch seems to be that he’s 1). a Republican, and 2). that he would help transform the image of Republicans, i.e., make them hipper. The problem is that a lot of conservatives (many of whom fund these efforts) don’t care about electing more “Republicans,” and they sure as hell don’t care about being hipper.

Meanwhile, Gomez’s statements have done little to assuage their concerns. Consider this from a WBUR interview: “I’m going to help [Republicans] with gay marriage, I’m pro-gay-marriage. I’m a green Republican, I believe in climate change. I’m going to get more of them to come over on my side,’ Gomez said. ‘I believe in immigration reform, I’m going to get more of my Republican counterparts to come along with me. And I believe in gun control and expanded background checks.’” (Emphasis mine.)


* * *

Of course, one could argue that what really matters is winning the majority — that the most important vote a senator takes is for Majority Leader. You could also argue that Gomez has to make this sort of liberal pitch in order to win in blue Massachusetts — that you can’t expect a Republican from Massachusetts to sound like a Republican from Mississippi.

These are all valid arguments, but hardly inspiring for someone looking to fire up national Republican donors.

Gomez’s advisers may lament the lack of national support — and they can rationalize all they want about why it would be smart to pour everything we’ve got into this special election — and maybe they have a point. But at the end of the day, they’re still left with Yogi Berra’s maxim that “If people don’t want to come out to the ballpark, how are you going to stop them?”

Up until now, I have at least done my part. My contribution to the Gomez campaign has been to refrain from commenting on Gomez’s liberal statements (that is, until they started whining about the lack of support).

* UPDATE: I previously referred to “now-Sen. Scott Brown.” It obviously should have been “former Senator Scott Brown.”