Gabriel Gomez’s Hidden Hispanic Vote

How much of Gomez’s inroads with Hispanic voters will be undone by President Obama’s visit for Ed Markey?

Ed Markey today is trotting California congressman Xavier Becerra through the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center, Hacienda Don Juan in Worcester, and Medina’s Supermarket in Springfield. It’s about time, say a number of Massachusetts Democrats, who are telling me that it’s well past time that the campaign started stepping up efforts to counter the Gomez Hispanic outreach.

Gabriel Gomez’s frequent self-introductions en Español and references to his Colombian-immigrant parents are not just a cute way of signalling to independent voters that he is not one of those harsh, old-white-guy Republicans. Although Massachusetts Hispanics have been voting and identifying strongly as Democrats, the Gomez campaign has been targeting them through campaign stops, house parties (sometimes with the candidate himself, often with surrogates), and Spanish-language interviews. At his second public appearance as a US Senate candidate, in Shrewsbury in late February, Gomez put off the hungry press corps, myself included, until after he gave an extended one-on-one interview to the local Univision reporter.

On a purely anecdotal and gut-feeling level, several Hispanic Bay Staters I’ve spoken with think it’s working—particularly among professional-class second- and third-generation citizens, who see Gomez as one of their own, and to a lesser extent the working-class urbanites who see in him an aspirational figure for their children.

And some Democratic insiders suspect that Gomez’s Hispanic support might not be showing up in polls. Hispanic voters, who have increased their participation in the state in recent big elections—particularly for President Barack Obama—are assumed to vote in small numbers in a relatively low-key special election. But, previous special elections have not included a candidate with a Hispanic surname.

To be sure, the Markey campaign has been doing the usual work of outreach, an effort headed up by Amaad Rivera of Springfield. But it’s a bit of a Catch-22: additional efforts would increase awareness of the election in Hispanic communities, which might increase the turnout for voters who will vote disproportionately for Gomez. (Note that Markey and other area Democrats didn’t try to make hay out of congressional Republicans voting yesterday in favor of deporting young immigrants intended for protection under Obama’s executive order and “DREAM Act” legislation.)

From what I hear, some labor unions with significant Hispanic membership might start some targeted efforts to help the campaign. And the Becerra visit is likely to be the start of a stepped-up effort by the Markey campaign.

But the real secret weapon for Markey could be Obama himself, who comes to Boston on Markey’s behalf next week. The president enjoys enormous popularity among Hispanics—83 percent favorability according to a March ABC News/Washington Post poll. We’ll see how much of Gomez’s inroads get undone by Obama’s arrival.

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  • SpectacledSpectator

    If you came here to work…like Gomez who joined the military, which liberals usually don’t, got his MBA, and became a successful businessman…you’re a natural Republican. Even if you don’t know it yet. If you came here to NOT work and get freebies from Markey and Obama, you’re a born Democrat. Markey is trying to send a message that “Hey Gomez is not one of you, his IQ is just too high, he’s too successful, and freebies should matter more than ethnicity.”

    • 7worldtraveler

      Typical Republican. Only Republicans work. Only Republicans are in the military. Only Republicans are God loving, flag waving patriots.

      What a load of BULL. Mt family has liberals who reached the upper ranks of the military. We are a large family that has achieved great things and pay a lot in taxes because we work HARD and make a lot of money. Funny how you Cons love to depict Democrats as non-working moochers but forget the biggest welfare queens in this country are corporations and the rich. I get a way bigger tax deduction than the poor because my income bracket is the highest. I live in a very expensive town & pay high property taxes, so that is deducted, too, as well as my mortgage interest. This is the legal but you never hear the Cons gripe about tax write-offs for the rich.

  • Willy Scanlon

    Massachusetts inspires Hispanic Welfare Queens. Just do a survey of heavily Hispanic neighborhoods in places like Worcester, Fitchburg, Southbridge, New Bedford and Taunton or Lynn. How many are getting welfare, WIC and SNAP and getting public housing or section 8? Yu will find its more than 60%. Or take a trip to DCF or DTA office in Massachusetts and survey how many of the workers there are not from Hispanic origins and can actually carrying on a conversation in English? Less than 10% of the workforce. Massachusetts has one of the largest welfare systems in America created by a democrat controlled legislature who refuse to fix a system that is riddled with fraud and corruption. .Thats a fact. These same communities also have a high influx of Hispanic drug gang elements from other cities in America. That too is a fact and has a direct correlation between drug related crimes and those getting welfare benefits.