BOSTON — Gabriel Gomez is hoping to be the new face of the Republican Party.
The son of Colombian immigrants, Gomez first learned to speak English in kindergarten, then went on to become a Navy pilot and SEAL, earn an MBA at Harvard Business School and launch a successful career in private equity.
As Republicans search for candidates to expand their appeal to minority voters, Gomez appears to fit the bill. But while Gomez may have the perfect resume, it’s unclear how the campaign newcomer will fare in Massachusetts’ famously rough-and-tumble politics.
The 47-year-old Cohasset businessman, one of three Republicans in the state’s special U.S. Senate race to fill the seat formerly held by Secretary of State John Kerry, has embraced his heritage, speaking Spanish in campaign ads and portraying his life story as the American dream.
“I couldn’t be more proud of my heritage and the fact that my parents decided to stay here after I was born,” Gomez, a first-generation American, said in an interview.
Born in Los Angeles, Gomez was still a toddler when the family moved to Washington state, where his father sold hops for a living. Gomez said those formative years helped set the course for his life.
“I saw how this country embraced my parents and gave them a chance at the dream, gave me a chance at the dream,” he said. “I wanted to serve. I wanted to pay back.”
Gomez served first as a Navy pilot, flying off aircraft carriers along the East Coast, before taking a gamble and applying to the elite Navy SEALs. He was warned if he failed, he’d also lose his pilot status.
Gomez served as a SEAL from 1992 to 1995 and was stationed in South America, where he met his wife, Sarah, who was working in the West Indies as a Peace Corps volunteer at a school for special needs students.