Is ‘New Kind of Republican’ Just Gabriel Gomez Code for Democrat?

No. But conservatives don't love the Senate candidate's new label.

Gabriel Gomez gave Massachusetts its first glimpse at his politics Thursday at a public campaign kick-off in which he called himself “a new kind of Republican”—a term that the old kind of Republican worries might be code for something more nefarious. Gomez, a political newcomer from Cohasset, hadn’t given voters much insight into his politics in the weeks since he launched his campaign, focusing instead on his straight-from-central-casting resume and biography. But at an event in Quincy on Thursday, he expanded a bit on his positions saying, “Obviously, I’m running as a ­Republican, but I’m a new kind of Republican… I’m an independent thinker. I’m not interested in going down to D.C. to ­engage in trench warfare.”

Conservative pundit Michael Graham called this “everything you need to know about Gabriel Gomez in one sentence.” Graham, presumably still smarting from Scott Brown’s run away from the national party in 2012, complains:

There’s a word for the “new kind of Republican” Gomez represents. That word is “Democrat.”

His first day on the campaign trail and he’s already running against the Republican Party. If MA GOP voters make Gomez the nominee, he’ll do it even more.

This isn’t entirely fair. Gomez debuted an “Issues” page where he lays out some of his positions. On budget issues at least, he sounds like a Republican, urging spending reductions rather than increased revenue:

“We recently raised taxes on the wealthy, and on every worker in America with the payroll tax hike. It is time now to reach across the aisle and work together to enact meaningful spending reductions in a fair and equitable way, without hurting our military. preparedness.”

On social issues, he supports gay marriage and while he calls himself pro-life, he says “Roe v Wade is settled law” and we spend too much time focusing on “divisive issues that are already decided.” Neither of those positions exactly disqualifies one from the Republican Party, these days. Several Republicans urged the Supreme Court to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act this week. And Mitt Romney held a similar position on Roe v. Wade (on some days, anyway…)

No, Graham’s issue has more to do with tone. Gomez has a party affiliation but spends most of his time talking about how little he wants to participate in “party bickering.” That seems like a practical calculation after a race in which Elizabeth Warren got traction arguing that a Massachusetts Republican, even a liberal one, would bolster the national Republican party’s clout in a lot of ways.

There’s been much internal dialogue among state Republicans lately about what kind of candidates they should put forward: those who can appeal to a general electorate by distancing themselves from their national brethren, or those who play a long game and try to represent the national party well, even at the risk of losing some (read: most) elections in the short term. Given the organizational and demographic advantages afforded to the Democrats in the state, this surprisingly robust Republican primary for the open Senate seat may not be that consequential in terms of who ends up our Senator. But we’ll say this: it’s going to be interesting to watch.