News Column

Hispanic U.S. Senate Candidate Doesn't Have Lock on Latino Vote

May 27, 2013

May 27--Several Bay State Latino voters haven't warmed to Republican Gabriel Gomez, despite his extensive outreach to the community and the chance to make history and elect the first Latino representing Massachusetts in the U.S. Senate, several Latino leaders told the Truth Squad.

"I still think that Edward Markey will have the majority of the Latino vote," said Alejandra St. Guillen, who runs Oiste, a nonpartisan group dedicated to boosting Latino voter participation in Massachusetts. "There is something to be said about potentially having a person of color in our state system ... but no one's really talking about it."

While the National Republican Party has made inroads across the country, Gomez is up against several issues when it comes to Bay State Latinos, St. Guillen said.

"We definitely are a more progressive Latino community as opposed to other parts of the country," she said. And while Gomez is more socially moderate than many Republicans, she said, "The majority of the Latino community is far more affected by access to quality schools, health care and economic equality, so social issues kind of take a back seat."

Gomez, who is up against U.S. Rep. Edward J. Markey in the June 25 U.S. Senate special election, has reached out to Latinos, according to his campaign. He stumped at the Puerto Rican Veterans Association monument tour, gave remarks at a central Massachusetts meet-and-greet and recently hit a Jamaica Plain business tour with the Latin American Growers Association, among other events.

"Folks who are traditional machine-type Democrats are out there supporting Ed Markey, but there are some folks who, even if they are Democrats, are taking a second look at what Gabriel is saying, what he is proposing and what he is doing," said Juan Gomez, a former Republican Worcester city councilor who is supporting Gomez. He believes Gomez is winning over Latino voters.

"There is no way in heck Ed Markey will represent Latinos better than Gabriel Gomez," said Juan Gomez, who is not related to the candidate.

Dolores Calaf, the programming director at La Alianza Hispana Inc. told the Herald, however, "Most of us are Democrats."

La Alianza Hispana is a nonprofit organization in Roxbury offering education and other social services to the Latino community.

"We are appreciative that he is Latino, but he's on the wrong side of the fence," said Calaf, who said the organization doesn't endorse politicians.

Latino voters helped push U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren over the top in her 2012 battle with then-U.S. Sen. Scott Brown, according to University of Washington professor and director of Latino Decisions Matt Barreto. Warren got 86 percent of the Latino vote, Brown got 14 percent, he reported in a poll.

"He'll get a larger percent than Scott Brown got," St. Guillen said of Gomez. "It's been more of a lack of knowing where he stands on the issues."

Twitterbomb

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Source: Copyright Boston Herald (MA) 2013 Distributed by MCT Information Services