Senate Candidate Gomez Boasts Military, Business Background
By Andy McKeever On: 04:07PM / Sunday April 14, 2013
Republican Senate primary candidate Gabriel Gomez met with voters at Daddy O's in Pittsfield on Sunday.
Steve Melito talking with Republican candidate Gabriel Gomez.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Gabriel Gomez believes that if Congress is going to make decisions on business and military issues, they should have some experience in those areas.
The former Navy SEAL has embarked on his first political campaign, vying for the U.S. Senate seat vacated by John Kerry. He is one of three Republican candidates on the ballot for the April 30 primary and the only candidate without any previous political experience.
He is running against state Rep. Daniel Winslow and former U.S. Attorney Michael Sullivan.
"I'll put my military record against anyone I am running against. I'll put my private sector experience against anyone I am running against. And I will concede that they can win the political experience battle. That's fine with me," Gomez said on Sunday when he met with voters at Daddy O's Diner. "I think you see what happens when you have career politicians down in D.C. You have what you have right now. You have dysfunction, you have gridlock, you've got failure."
"The fact is," he later added, "I am the only one who is not a lawyer. I went to business school instead of law school. And I am the one who hasn't been in politics. I am the one who has been in the private sector helping businesses grow and become successful. I am also the one that wore the uniform as a pilot and a Navy SEAL."
Being a newcomer to the political scene is what Gomez said people want and that rang true for those greeting him at his campaign stop in Pittsfield.
"He is a different kind of candidate. He listens. Because he has a military background, he understands what it means to get results. He also comes from the private sector and he understands the importance of jobs and what it takes to create a job," said Steve Melito of Adams. "His personal story is very appealing as well. I think Republicans get a tremendously bad rep of being the party of the elite and the rich."
Michael Case, a veteran and Republican candidate in several local races, praised Gomez's military background. He was glad Gomez came to Pittsfield because in the historically Democratic Berkshires, he said, residents don't get to hear much about the Republican candidates.
Gomez is a first-generation American after his parents emigrated from Colombia to Los Angeles. He learned to speak Spanish before English but his family was never considered outsiders.
"At a young age I saw how this country embraced my parents and welcomed them with open arms and gave them a chance at the American dream and gave their kids a chance at the American dream. So I wanted to give back so I applied to the Naval Academy," Gomez said.
He was a pilot for four years but wanted a bigger challenge. He applied for SEALs (Sea, Air, Land Teams) training knowing that only 20 percent complete the training and his acceptance meant he couldn't go back to flying.
He completed the training and became class leader of SEAL Class 181. In his first detachment, he met his wife, Sarah, who was a Peace Corps volunteer in the West Indies.
"Now we've been married 17 years and have four kids, ages 13 to 8, and we live out in Cohasset on the South Shore," he said.
In 1996, he left the Navy and enrolled in Harvard Business School and has been in the private sector for the last 16 years. After graduation, he worked for Advent International, an investment firm, where he worked closely with small and regional business.
Gomez said voters want a senator with his background in business and military instead of another lawyer or politician.
He says business are "stifled" with regulations, taxes and the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. While the intent of the health care law was good, he says it hasn't addressed the cost and states should be deciding how to do that.
"When you go to a bank for a loan, you deal with more compliance officers than loan officers," Gomez said.
He said with recent college graduates carrying so much student debt, it's unacceptable that the unemployment rate for those ages of 21 and 29 is at nearly 25 percent. Businesses need to grow so that his young children and those like them will have the "opportunity for the American dream."
"I want to be part of the solution instead of sitting on the sidelines complaining. What I will bring to the table is a military man's discipline, a father's sensitivity, a businessman's experience," Gomez said. "The way we are going right now with $17 trillion in debt and these policies coming from D.C. that are stifling companies' growth, that are stifling a company's ability to hire people. That just decreases the ability for a young person, or anybody, to go out and achieve their dream."
Gomez is calling for tax reform by closing loopholes for both companies and individuals while making the system much simpler. Meanwhile he is calling for cuts in government spending across the board.
"I think that every part of the government has room to trim," Gomez said, including in the Department of Defense, where he says there needs to be proper funding to ensure servicemen have the equipment they need to complete a mission safely. But, there are programs that are not needed and there are 10 to 15 percent too many civilian employees.
He says the retirement age should gradually be increased and there should be a "means test" to reduce the Medicaid and Medicare benefits given out so those who don't need it, don't receive the full benefit.
Those changes to the tax policy and the reduction of spending will pave the way for tax rates to decrease, thus providing more people with spending money, said Gomez.
"They're not going to diners like this as often as they want to," he said, standing in Daddy O's. "What drives the economy is people's ability to go out and spend their money. They're taking home less and less money not just because of taxes but also because of the regulations."
Gomez points to the recently passed Senate budget that "doesn't balance and has a trillion dollars in taxes" as an example of how "career politicians" are failing to understand the real-life issues businesses face. He said he will limit himself to two terms and is calling for term limits of two for senators and three for representatives.
Whoever wins the Republican primary on April 30 will face off against the Democratic winner — U.S. Rep. Edward Markey or U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch — in the special Senate election on Tuesday, June 25.
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