NORTH ANDOVER — Local Republicans got a chance to mingle last night with all the three candidates who are battling to represent their party in the June 25 general election to fill former U.S. Sen. John Kerry’s vacant seat.
But the forum hosted by the North Andover Republican Town Committee at the China Blossom was more of party unity rally than a conventional candidate’s debate. There were no questions from the audience and there wasn’t any sparring between the opponents — Former U.S. Attorney Michael Sullivan, state Rep. Daniel Winslow and former Navy SEAL Gabriel Gomez
“I’m glad there wasn’t,” said C.J. Gangi, chairman of the North Andover Republican Town Committee.
“It was classy. They all acted like gentlemen,” he said
Two of the three candidates even praised their opponents as worthy representatives of the Republican Party.
“We got three great candidates in the primary and I will say that anyone of those three would beat Ed Markey or Stephen Lynch and also do a better job,” Gomez said, referring to the two Democratic congressmen on the ballot in the April 30 primary.
A straw poll taken of the 150 people attending last night’s forum showed that Sullivan, the former U.S. Attorney in Boston, was the most popular.
Of the 98 people casting ballots, 58 percent said they supported Sullivan. Gomez drew 23 percent of the vote and Winslow — who showed up more than hour late to the forum — drew 19 percent.
Gomez, a first generation American, told the crowd he was running for Congress out of a sense of duty and service to his country, after nine years in the military.
“I’d rather get involved and try — even if I fail — rather than stay on the sidelines and complain,” Gomez said.
“We can make this a better place than the path we’re on right now,” he said.