STEVE LeBLANC Associated Press
---- — BOSTON (AP) — Another Republican candidate has taken the first steps toward jumping into Massachusetts’ special U.S. Senate election.
Secretary of State William Galvin’s office confirmed yesterday that a representative for Cohasset businessman Gabriel Gomez requested nomination papers.
Gomez, a former Navy SEAL and newcomer to state politics, hasn’t returned repeated phone calls seeking comment on a possible run for the Senate seat left vacant by John Kerry’s resignation to become secretary of state.
Norfolk state Rep. Daniel Winslow became the first Republican to announce his candidacy last week. A candidacy by Gomez would force a GOP primary.
The first major hurdle facing both candidates is collecting the 10,000 voter signatures needed to get their names on the ballot. The deadline for submitting the signatures is Feb. 27.
Many high-profile Republicans, including former U.S. Sen. Scott Brown and former Gov. William Weld, have decided not to run. That has opened the field for lesser known candidates.
Other Republicans are still weighing a run, including Gloucester state Sen. Bruce Tarr and Governor’s Council member Jennie Caissie.
On the Democratic side, U.S. Reps. Edward Markey and Stephen Lynch have already announced their candidacies. Marisa DeFranco, who ran in last year’s Senate race but failed to make the primary ballot, is also considering running on the Democratic side.
Massachusetts Democrats quickly focused their criticism on Gomez, trying to tie him to failed Republican presidential candidate, former Gov. Mitt Romney.
They also faulted Gomez’s association with a group that faulted President Barack Obama for taking too much credit for the death of Osama bin Laden.
The group — Special Operations OPSEC Education Fund Inc. — produced a 22-minute video during last year’s presidential election criticizing Obama.
During an interview last year on MSNBC, Gomez credited Obama for giving the green light for the special operation to kill bin Laden but defended the video. Gomez, pointing to past presidents, said Obama should have given more credit to the troops and taken less credit for himself.
“The only time that these presidents, Lincoln and Eisenhower and other wartime presidents, ever used the word ‘I’ was when they said ‘I thank you’ to the troops,” Gomez said during the interview.
In announcing bin Laden’s death, Obama credited “the tireless and heroic work of our military and our counterterrorism professionals” for disrupting terrorist attacks and strengthening homeland defenses.
Gomez said he donated to Obama’s primary campaign in 2008.
Massachusetts Democratic Party Chairman John Walsh criticized Gomez for “hanging out last year with a secretive group that tried, and failed, to damage the president for his handling of bringing justice to Osama bin Laden.”
“Massachusetts voters, who overwhelmingly voted last fall to support the president’s ideas and agenda, won’t be swayed by Gomez’s attempt at running the Romney Campaign 2.0,” Walsh said Monday in a written statement.
The 47-year-old Gomez has worked for the private equity firm Advent International since 2004.
According to the company’s website, Gomez’s private equity experience “covers a broad range of industries including business services, health care, distribution, financial services and industrial products.”
Before joining Advent, Gomez worked at Summit Partners for three years, according to the website. Before that, he worked as investment banking associate at Bowles Hollowell Conner & Co. in its aerospace and defense group.
His military service includes nine years in the Navy as an aircraft carrier pilot and Navy SEAL commander. He received a degree in systems engineering from the U.S. Naval Academy and an MBA from Harvard Business School.
The primary is April 30. The special election is June 25.