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Ex-Navy SEAL to run for Mass. Senate seat

Feb. 12, 2013 - 09:27AM   |   Last Updated: Feb. 12, 2013 - 09:27AM  |  
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BOSTON Gabriel Gomez, a Cohasset businessman and former Navy SEAL, officially launched his campaign for the U.S. Senate on Tuesday, becoming the second Republican to announce a bid for the seat formerly held by Massachusetts Democrat John Kerry.

Gomez announced his decision in a statement and a video. He said a formal campaign kickoff would come on Feb. 28, which is one day after the deadline candidates face to collect the 10,000 signatures needed to qualify for the primary ballot.

The primary will be held on April 30, and a special election is scheduled for June 25.

The 47-year-old Gomez, who has never held elective office, positioned himself as an outsider, pointing to "a lot of unproductive noise and bickering" in Washington.

"I'm running because I refuse to be cynical about America or America's future. Certainly people will say, ‘This can't be fixed,'" Gomez said. "But sending career politicians to the do the job would be the same old, same old. Our country is better than its politics."

Gomez highlighted his military experience as a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, a Navy aircraft carrier pilot and Navy SEAL.

Kerry was sworn in as the U.S. secretary of state on Feb. 1, and Gov. Deval Patrick appointed William "Mo" Cowan to serve as interim senator until the special election. Cowan is not running for the seat.

Norfolk state Rep. Daniel Winslow became the first Republican to announce his candidacy last week. A spokeswoman for state Senate Republican Leader Bruce Tarr said Monday night that he was still "vetting" his decision on whether to run. Jennie Cassie, a member of the Governor's Council, has also said she is considering entering the race.

On the Democratic side, U.S. Reps. Edward Markey and Stephen Lynch announced their candidacies. Marisa DeFranco, an immigration attorney, is also weighing a run.

Many high-profile Republicans, including former U.S. Sen. Scott Brown and former Gov. William Weld, have decided not to run. That has opened the field for lesser known candidates.

Massachusetts Democrats quickly tried to tie Gomez to failed Republican presidential candidate and former Gov. Mitt Romney.

They faulted Gomez's association with a group that criticized President Obama for taking too much credit for the death of Osama bin Laden. The group Special Operations OPSEC Education Fund Inc. produced a 22-minute video during last year's presidential election criticizing Obama.

During an interview last year on MSNBC, Gomez credited Obama for giving the green light for the special operation to kill bin Laden but defended the video. Gomez said Obama should have given more credit to the troops and taken less credit for himself.

"The only time that these presidents, Lincoln and Eisenhower and other wartime presidents, ever used the word ‘I' was when they said ‘I thank you' to the troops," Gomez said during the interview.

In announcing bin Laden's death, Obama credited "the tireless and heroic work of our military and our counterterrorism professionals" for disrupting terrorist attacks and strengthening homeland defenses.

Gomez also said he donated to Obama's primary campaign in 2008.

Massachusetts Democratic Party Chairman John Walsh criticized Gomez for "hanging out last year with a secretive group that tried, and failed, to damage the president for his handling of bringing justice to Osama bin Laden." He suggested Gomez was trying to run "the Romney Campaign 2.0."

Gomez has worked for the private equity firm Advent International since 2004.

Associated Press writer Bob Salsberg contributed to this report.

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