Is Gabriel Gomez The Next Scott Brown? Sure, Along With Everyone Else.

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
May 1 2013 11:35 AM

Six Candidates Who Were the "Next Scott Brown" Before Gabriel Gomez

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Former Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) practices throwing out the ceremonial first shot before the Major League Lacrosse Championship Game on August 26, 2012 in Boston, Massachusetts.

Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images

Gabriel Gomez is, as the AP reported in its news blast last night, the "businessman and former Navy SEAL" who won the GOP's nomination for Massachusetts' special Senate election. Gomez is young, too, and unencumbered by experience, excepting only his work for a lackluster 2012 PAC that went after Barack Obama for exploiting the killing of OBL, and his odd request that Gov. Deval Patrick appoint him to the seat when it first came open.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

More importantly—Gomez is the next Scott Brown! So speaketh Bill Kristol; so speaketh National Journal; so speaketh everyone who notes that Gomez has bascially retained the key team that elected Brown then worked for Mitt Romney. The current polling gives the Democratic nominee an 18-point lead over Gomez, but something something Scott Brown! He overcame a 30-point Democratic lead, didn't he?

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He did, and then every candidate started fancying themselves the Second Coming of Brown. A quick sampling, mostly from 2010:

1. 2010 Republican candidate for Congress Jeff Perry:

MARTHA MACCALLUM: You know, you've been called the next Scott Brown. Do you like that title?

JEFF PERRY: Well, it surely fits for me.

- Fox News interview, Sept. 16, 2010

2-3. 2010 Republican Senate candidates Chuck DeVore and Carly Fiorina:

Republicans in the state are both anxious about the economy and emboldened by [California Sen. Barbara] Boxer's new vulnerability. A Tea Party could get under way, and either [Chuck DeVore] or a freshly combative [Carly] Fiorina could come across as the next Scott Brown.

- The Weekly Standard, March 22, 2010

4. 2010 gubernatorial candidate Rick Lazio:

To fellow jaded New Yorkers who think they've heard it all, I humbly offer this: Rick Lazio is the new Scott Brown.

- Newsmax, March 4, 2010

5. 2010 congressional candidate Andrew Harris:

"We're going to see a close election where the candidate who is running to bring real change to Washington is going to come out on top in a very close race, as it was in Massachusetts."
In this comparison, Harris casts himself as Scott Brown, "the person who has been toiling in the state senate for years, deep in the minority, trying to advance the fiscal conservative principles.

And finally ... 6. Steve Lynch:

With the race tightening and a clear, if under-the-radar, path to victory, regular-guy Stephen Lynch may be poised for a Scott Brown moment of his own.

Lynch, of course, was the Democratic primary candidate whom Markey turfed by 14 points. They were the same 14 points predicted by Public Policy Polling. Of the candidates mentioned above, only Harris won—in a general election, in a GOP year, in a district drawn to elect a Republican.

Look, no one should underrate Gomez, but no one is underrating him at this point. He's hyped like the Strokes circa 2001. The "next Scott Brown" mythos is so potent that it leads people to forget the special circumstances of Brown's win. He could say (somewhat accurately!) that his election, and only his election, would create the "41st vote" to block the Affordable Care Act. He campaigned hard during late December when his opponent, Martha Coakley, didn't. His wave started two weeks before the Jan. 20 election, with a Rasmussen Reports poll showing the race within single digits. Gomez has to keep the hype humming for five weeks, against a candidate with far more hustle than Coakley, and with no overarching issue. (He's running on the outsider-vs.-old insider thing, and is depending on voter disquiet about "Congress" to dog a Democrat as much as it would dog any Republican incumbent.)

Can he win? Hey, anybody can win anything. Democrats absolutely preferred facing one of the bland candidates to facing Gomez. But enough with the "next Scott Brown" and "next Martha Coakley" stuff. It led good men to mistakenly foresee an Elizabeth Warren loss in 2012. Scott Brown himself was only Scott Brown for one shining moment.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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