Electoral politics is not only about issues,organization and of course money, lots of money. Electoral politics, at least in this age of media 24/7 cable scrutiny, is also about image, schmoozing and a good storyline.
Gabriel Gomez surprised a lot of pundits in Massachusetts with his substantial victory in the Republican primary. But there shouldn’t have been a surprise, because Gomez had the three key ingredients for success ( at least in a lackluster primary fight against two bland opponents) – he projected a fresh image, he knew how to talk to people about his governing vision and he had a great story to tell about himself. All those critics who said he had a weak command of the issues really didn’t understand the dynamics of current campaign strategy. Oh, and by the way, Gomez had a pretty large bucket of money to spend.
The Republican Party both here in Massachusetts and across the country is looking for the “right” people to run for office and they are likely doing cartwheels over Gomez – son of immigrants, a Navy SEAL, a successful businessman and matinee idol looks. It doesn’t get any better.
When you put Gabriel Gomez up next to the Democratic candidate Ed Markey, there is no contest in terms of image, people skills and storyline. Markey looks like he has been in the House for 36 years. his people skills are weak ( his commercials were to say the least sub-par), and his life story is that he’s a Washington lifer. It doesn’t get any worse than that.
So is Gabriel Gomez the next US Senator from Massachusetts? I don’t think so. Somewhere along the line in a campaign in a heavily Democratic and liberal state, candidates must show that they have positions on key issues, but more importantly that they know what they are talking about. Gomez will have a lot of late night cramming sessions to prepare for the finals and can’t just smile his way through a debate. Markey has the experience and issue familiarity to cut through the image, the schmoozing and the storyline of the GOP’s new fresh face.
It will be interesting to see this race unfold as youth takes on age, inexperience takes on experience, and a good life story takes on the usual stuff of Washington politics.