Ex-Navy SEAL Gomez chases Senate seat; Shrewsbury diner back on campaign trail.
SHREWSBURY - When 11-year-old Evan Clarke of Holden heard that Republican U.S. Senate candidate Gabriel Gomez was coming to Shrewsbury, he asked his mother if he could skip school to meet him.
His mother, Crystal, said she agreed, figuring it would be educational.
"He's so into politics. And, he wants to be a Navy SEAL so bad, so I figured this would be an education for him," Ms. Clarke said as she and Evan sat in a booth at Brody's Diner. The popular Route 20 diner was one of the places Mr. Gomez visited yesterday to formally launch his campaign.
Evan said he wanted to meet Mr. Gomez because he's a Navy SEAL, something Evan has dreamed of becoming since he was 4. His late great-grandfather, Hazelton Bowden, who lived in Maine, served during World War II on the Navy's Underwater Demolition Teams, the precursor to today's SEALs.
After shaking hands with diners and announcing why he's running for the seat formerly held by Secretary of State John Kerry, Mr. Gomez spent 20 minutes in the booth with Evan and his mother eating eggs, bacon and pancakes.
Evan said he plans to take the photo his mother took of him with Mr. Gomez to school to show to students in his fifth-grade class at Dawson Elementary School.
"This is probably stuff you couldn't learn in school. I got to meet an ex-SEAL who is going to soon be a U.S. senator. And, I got to learn about what it's like to be a Navy SEAL," Evan said. "He told me, `If you stick to it, you can do it.'"
During his stop in Shrewsbury, Mr. Gomez, a Cohasset businessman and married father of four, promised that, if elected, he would work with both parties and fight for term limits for people who serve in Congress.
The 47-year-old son of Colombian immigrants first introduced himself in Spanish and then worked the small diner, shaking hands and talking to people about why he is running to fill the seat recently vacated by Mr. Kerry.
"There's a lot of gridlock, a lot of partisanship and a lot of work not getting done in D.C. America's got a lot of problems and we need some problem solvers and that's exactly why I'm running," he said to applause.
He said that while many areas of the country are still struggling, Washington is booming with thriving lobbyists and other special interest groups. He said he would fight to impose term limits: three for representatives and two for senators. He also said there should be a law prohibiting someone who serves in Congress from later becoming a lobbyist.
"We've got term limits for the president. Why shouldn't we have term limits for congressmen and senators? And then let them come back and live under the laws they've enacted," Mr. Gomez said.
Brian M. Ashmankas, a member of the Millbury Board of Selectmen, was on hand for the event. He said he came to find out what Mr. Gomez is all about. He said that he had heard that he is somewhat like Scott Brown, a Republican who was able to work with Democrats. Mr. Brown made a stop at the diner during his last campaign. Several framed pictures of him and the diner's owners, Robert and Mary Ricker, were on the walls.
"I've heard he's the non-partisan type. He might vote for a bill that helps his constituents rather than his party," Mr. Ashmankas said. "That's what we do as a board of selectmen. We all vote based on what's good for the town. Washington should run the same way."
Crystal Clarke, Evan's mother, said she, too, is impressed with Mr. Gomez as a candidate.
"He's a fresh face. He makes the Republican party more diverse," she said. "He's something to get excited about."
Mr. Gomez will face former U.S. Attorney Michael Sullivan and state Rep. Daniel Winslow in the Republican primary on April 30.
U.S. Rep. Edward Markey and U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch are running on the Democratic side.
Contact Elaine Thompson at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at EThompsonTG
CUTLINE: (1) Gabriel Gomez talks to Evan Clarke, 11, of Holden, during a visit to Brody's Diner in Shrewsbury on Thursday. (2) Meeting customers at Brody's Diner, Gabriel Gomez has photographers behind him.
PHOTOG: T&G Photos/RICK CINCLAIR