Private equity executive Gabriel Gomez emerged victorious from yesterday's Republican U.S. Senate primary in Massachusetts. But he faces an uphill battle if he hopes to be the Bay State's newest representative on Capitol Hill.
Gomez, who works at Boston-based Advent International, took 51% of the vote in the three-way race, besting two more established candidates: former U.S. Attorney Michael Sullivan and State Rep. Daniel Winslow. He'll face Democratic nominee Ed Markey, a 20-term congressman who fended off a challenge from a more conservative Democrat, in June to fill the term of former Sen. John Kerry, who is now Secretary of State.
Gomez is a decided underdog in that race: Polls taken before the primary routinely showed him—and the other Republican candidates—down by double-digits against either Markey or Rep. Stephen Lynch. The most recent poll, taken earlier this month, shows Markey ahead of Gomez, 51% to 36%.
There's also the decided Democratic tilt of Massachusetts: Although the state has elected several Republican governors in recent decades, each of the state's nine Congressional districts is held by a Democrat, registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans by more than three-to-one, and no Republican presidential candidate has won the state's electoral votes since President Ronald Reagan in 1984; former Gov. Mitt Romney was trounced in his home state last year by President Barack Obama, who won nearly 62% of the vote. Indeed, the loser of the Democratic primary, Rep. Lynch, received more votes in that race than Gomez, Sullivan and Winslow combined—and Lynch took only 42% of the Democratic vote.
Massachusetts has elected only one Republican to the U.S. Senate since 1972—but that was former Sen. Scott Brown's narrow special-election victory in 2010, amidst the height of the controversy over Obama's healthcare reform. Brown was defeated last year by now-Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
Prior to joining Advent, where he is a principal, Gomez worked at Summit Partners. A graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and Harvard Business School, Gomez served as a Navy pilot and Navy SEAL before leaving the military in 1996.