By Alexandra Jaffe - 05/07/13 12:23 AM EDT
At least one Republican outside group — Karl Rove’s American Crossroads — is considering spending to boost GOP Senate candidate Gabriel Gomez in Massachusetts amid early polling that shows the former Navy SEAL performing well against Rep. Edward Markey (D).
Asked Monday whether American Crossroads or its affiliated nonprofit, Crossroads GPS, is likely to get involved in Massachusetts, spokesman Jonathan Collegio said the groups are “carefully weighing all the options for engagement there.”
Gomez won the Republican primary in Massachusetts last week over two opponents.
The first general election poll, by Democratic firm Public Policy Polling, last week showed Gomez trailing Markey by just 4 points.
Markey had 44 percent support, while the GOP candidate had 40 percent.
The potential benefit that Gomez would reap from millions of dollars in support from outside spending groups explains why he has refused to sign a pledge — popularized in recent Massachusetts campaigns — to keep that money out of the race.
Republicans widely agree that Gomez will need outside help to be competitive in deep-blue Massachusetts against Markey, who has spent more than three decades in Congress.
Gomez’s refusal to sign the so-called “People’s Pledge” has created a headache for his campaign, however.
Markey has hammered the Republican nonstop over the past week on the pledge. The Democrat held a press conference Monday morning in which he invited Gomez to agree to shun outside spending.
“The people of Massachusetts have a right to know who is backing each of the two candidates, so they can make an informed judgment about the source of funding. That is key,” Markey said, according to The Boston Globe.
Gomez’s campaign, in turn, has slammed Markey’s campaign for producing a video that briefly shows Gomez’s face next to a photo of Osama bin Laden.
Gomez called the video a “textbook despicable political attack” and called for Markey to take it down.
The PPP poll on the Massachusetts race found 32 percent of voters are unsure of how they feel about Gomez, indicating he has an opportunity to introduce himself positively to voters.
But voters’ lack of awareness about Gomez, an investment firm executive and son of Colombian immigrants, also gives Markey an opportunity to define the GOP candidate.
Gomez sought to introduce himself to voters in a Web ad, his first of the general election campaign, released Monday.
The spot highlights his newcomer status. By contrast, Republicans are casting Markey as a longtime Washington insider who would only perpetuate Washington’s dysfunction.
“If you’re looking for a rigid partisan, I’m not your guy,” Gomez says in the ad, a line from his primary victory speech.
“If you’re looking for an experienced, slick-talking politician, I’m definitely not your guy.”
The spot features shots of Gomez on primary night, surrounded by family and supporters, interspersed with shots of the Massachusetts landscape.
Democrats insist they’re not concerned about the surprisingly close PPP poll, citing Markey’s contentious Democratic primary against Rep. Stephen Lynch and a likely post-primary boost for Gomez.
Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee spokesman Justin Barasky predicted that Markey will easily pull ahead of Gomez when the candidates begin to clash on policy.
“When [the campaigns] do shift to policy, it’s going to show that Gomez is out of step with the state on Social Security and Wall Street reform, just as he is with the way we fund campaigns,” Barasky said. “Once they start talking about the issues — and that’s very soon — it becomes even worse for Gomez.”
The election is June 25.