Gabriel Gomez, the Republican candidate for Senate in Massachusetts, has taken to arguing lately that he is independent of the national GOP. He has vowed to be a “pain in the butt” to fellow Republicans in the Senate, and has described himself as a “green Republican” who believes that “humans are a big part of the problem” of climate change.
“I’m not tied to anybody,” Gomez said yesterday. “I’m not tied to any rigid ideological position.” It’s an understandable message, given that he’s running in a blue state, and given that he’s trailing Dem Ed Markey in polls.
This message, however, is getting somewhat muddled by the fact that conservative Republican Senators keep sending out fundraising emails arguing that Gomez’s election is essential in order to restore GOP control of the Senate. The latest: Florida Senator Marco Rubio.
“In just three weeks, Republicans have a chance to take a huge step toward replacing Harry Reid with a Republican Senate Majority Leader,” Rubio wrote in an email blasted out by his Reclaim America PAC. “Together we can see to it that Gabriel Gomez is the first victory on our drive to a GOP Senate majority.”
This comes after Mitch McConnell recently sent out a fundraising appeal for the NRSC that said: “Securing a victory for Gabriel Gomez in the Massachusetts Senate special election on June 25th is crucial to taking back the Senate and removing Harry Reid from power.”
If Gomez is independent of the national GOP, that has not revealed itself when it comes to his stances on key issues. He opposes a ban on assault weapons and high capacity magazines (though he supports expanded background checks), and has said he favors repeal of Obamacare. Gomez is also anti-choice (though Republicans have argued that his position is in line with that of Ted Kennedy and John Kerry, since he wouldn’t repeal Roe v. Wade).
As for Gomez’s efforts to show that he’s a “green Republican,” David Bernstein asked the Gomez campaign for a more detailed explanation of where Gomez stands on climate change, and was told that Gomez supports a “free market approach to global warming, incentivizing businesses to be environmentally responsible and encouraging research and development of green energy.” It’s unclear if Gomez supports government investment in green energy, and Gomez opposes anything that would lead to higher taxes on businesses or energy prices. In short, as Bernstein noted, “Gomez is likely to oppose just about any actual legislative effort on climate change.”
Bernstein also points out that Gomez said this in a speech yesterday: “We must promote a natural economic growth, not fake, phony, pretend growth and stimulus, directed top-down by Washington.” As economic policy goes, this is not materially different from the sort of bromides we’ve heard from national Republicans for years.
The broader point, though, is that it may not even matter if Gomez argues that he is independent of the national GOP, because that doesn’t necessarily change the fact that a vote for Gomez is a vote to strengthen the Senate Republican caucus. There are a lot of things about this race that are different from the 2012 race that Elizabeth Warren won — it’s an off-year election; Gomez is an outsider; Warren is a better communicator than Markey. But Scott Brown was also independent of the national GOP in key ways, and Warren beat him in part by emphasizing the national angle. One of her closing ads said:
“Just one vote — just one Senator – could put Republicans in control of the United States Senate. Scott Brown could be that Senator.”
That’s even more true in Gomez’s case, with Dems almost entirely on defense in the 2014 Senate elections, and with control of the Senate hinging on whether a half dozen Dem incumbents can hang on against tough odds. Rubio and McConnell both know this to be the case, as they helpfully told the world in their pitches for him.