Gabriel Gomez's First Words as a Senate Candidate Are in Spanish
The national Republican party hasn't kept secret that they'd like to appeal to Latino voters after a heavy majority broke for Democratic candidates in the 2012 election. Perhaps no one is making that newfound emphasis more blunt than Gabriel Gomez, a former Navy SEAL and private equity investor, who announced his plan to run for Senate as a Republican Tuesday using Spanish. A video announcement on his website begins, “Me llamo Gabriel Gomez, y yo estoy annunciando que voy a correr para ser senador de los estados unidos.” He switches to English, almost as an aside. “For those of you who don't speak Spanish …”
This is no doubt an effort to highlight his personal story as much as it is an attempt at outreach. His website offers this biography:
Gabriel, 47, was born in Los Angeles and is the son of Colombian immigrants. With his mother only knowing a few words of English, Gabriel grew up speaking Spanish before learning English. Like so many other new American families, his parents overcame hardships to create a better life for their children.
He's announcing himself in Spanish first, just as he learned to speak it first. But personal narrative aside, his emphasis will likely appeal to a Republican party that's striving to find ways to address the fact that Latinos made up 10 percent of the 2012 electorate and voted for President Obama by a margin of 44 percentage points. That gap was more marked in Massachusetts, where 86 percent of Latino voters chose Elizabeth Warren.
Of course, Gomez's announcement didn't specifically lay out many political positions. He mostly criticized the partisan bickering in Washington. Obviously the positions he ends up taking on a range of issues will determine his success in a primary battle with former Mitt Romney aide Dan Winslow and his ability to attract voters of any group in a general election against one of the Democrats. Plus, Republicans don't just have a “Latino voters” problem in Massachusetts so much as they've got an “all voters” problem that's going to be hard to turn around in a short special election cycle. Even so, cutting back on the heavy support among the Latino community for Democrats would certainly help.