Ed Markey, Gabriel Gomez square off on the issues

Massachusetts voters go to the polls on Tuesday, June 25, in a special election to fill the United States Senate seat left vacant when John Kerry resigned to become Secretary of State.
File photo by Ralph Stewart

Massachusetts voters go to the polls on Tuesday, June 25, in a special election to fill the United States Senate seat left vacant when John Kerry resigned to become Secretary of State.

Massachusetts voters go to the polls on Tuesday, June 25, in a special election to fill the United States Senate seat left vacant when John Kerry resigned to become Secretary of State.

The polls will be open from 7 am to 8 pm across the state.

Voters will choose between Democratic Congressman Edward J. Markey, a career politician, and Republican newcomer Gabriel E. Gomez, a businessman and former Navy SEAL.

The political odds and Massachusetts political currents greatly favor Mr. Markey.

Prior to Scott Brown’s victory in a special election held January 19, 2010, the last time a Republican was elected to the Senate was Edward Brooke, a Vineyard summer resident reelected in 1972.

In the primary election held April 30, Mr. Markey received 1,550 votes on the Island and 309,854 votes statewide. Mr. Gomez received 295 Island votes and 96,276 statewide.

Mr. Markey also holds an outsized lead in money. According to a report Friday in the Boston Globe, the Democratic Senate nominee outspent his Republican rival by nearly $4 million in a nine-week period heading into the final stretch of their special election.

Brief profiles of Mr. Markey and Mr. Gomez, based on each candidate’s website and email responses to questions posed by The MV Times on a variety of major political issues follow:

Edward J. Markey, 66, (edmarkey.com) grew up in Malden. He worked his way through Boston College driving an ice cream truck. He then graduated from Boston College Law School. He was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1976 as one of its youngest members. In 2009, he co-authored the Waxman-Markey American Clean Energy and Security Act. He continues to live in Malden.

Gabriel Gomez, 47, (gomezforma.com) was born in Los Angeles and is the son of Colombian immigrants. He graduated from the United States Naval Academy, flew E2-C Hawkeyes and C2-A Greyhounds off aircraft carriers and qualified to join the elite Navy SEALS. Following his military service he received his MBA from Harvard Business School and joined the Boston-based investment firm Advent International. He lives in Cohasset with his wife and four children.

On the issues

MVT: You have held political office since 1976. How do you counter critics who say you are more attuned to the concerns of Washington insiders than your constituents?

Mr. Markey: If people know anything about me from my years of serving them, they know I take on the tough issues and I get results for the Commonwealth.

I believe this race is about electing a senator who is ready on day one to forge a path forward and deliver action on the issues that matter most to Massachusetts.

Every week, 52 children die from gun violence in the United States. That’s unacceptable. I’ve stood up to the NRA in Congress to block cheap Chinese assault weapons from coming into this country. And in the Senate I will advocate for commonsense gun laws like a ban on assault weapons and on high-capacity magazine clips.

I’ve taken on Big Coal and Big Oil and passed a bill in the House that would decrease our carbon pollution — a bill that would create millions of new jobs in solar and wind and electric cars to back out the millions of barrels of oil we import from the Middle East.

I’ve stood up for a woman’s right to choose. And for everyone’s right to affordable health care.

And I’ve taken on the Tea Party Republicans who want to slash the critical investments in education and research that create jobs in our state.

I believe we need someone in the Senate who won’t back down from the tough fights and who will expand opportunities for all Americans.

MVT: If elected you will leave the world of business and become a freshman member of an often fractious group of 100 men and women. Why should voters think a businessman with no political experience would be effective in representing their interests?

Mr. Gomez: What we currently have in Washington are people who have spent far too much time in politics, creating a dysfunctional environment that does nothing to improve our struggling economy. I spent nine years serving our country in the Navy, first as a pilot then as a SEAL. My service taught me firsthand how to connect to people from all different backgrounds as we worked toward collective goals. I’m not a politician and I will go down to Washington with an open mind, and will make decisions based on my values as a father, a businessman, and a patriot. That understanding will allow me to put the people of Massachusetts ahead of party politics when weighing my decisions as a senator.

MVT: Name one or two specific actions you would support to generate jobs both in the short and long term.

Mr. Markey: In the short term, I believe we should repeal the across-the-board cuts, known as Sequestration. Those mindless spending cuts put 60,000 jobs in Massachusetts at risk this year. It slashes $127 million in critical National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding for Massachusetts this year. NIH funding is critical to the Massachusetts economy. We bring in more NIH funding per capita than any other state, and every dollar of funding generates $2.21 in local economic growth. Sequestration is a bad policy for our economy, our state, and the country. In the Senate, I will work to repeal it.

In Congress, I have a proven record of breaking down barriers so that smaller companies can emerge, specifically in fields like telecommunications, life sciences, biotech and clean energy. I will continue that work in the U.S. Senate.

Mr. Gomez: First and foremost we have to reform the tax code. We have the highest corporate tax rate in the industrialized world at 35 percent. We have to allow businesses to be more competitive, growing our economy by creating new jobs for middle-income workers. Our small businesses have been hurt by the burdensome regulations put in place by a federal government that doesn’t understand businesses’ struggle to grow. Small businesses are the largest source of middle class employment, making their success vital to our nation’s overall economic improvement. Government has to understand its role in the private sector and allow small businesses to flourish.

MVT: Plans are moving ahead for the development of inshore and offshore industrial commercial wind farms bracketing Martha’s Vineyard. These heavily subsidized plants will raise the cost of electricity for state consumers. Please comment on state and federal efforts to support the development of wind farms and explain why hard-pressed consumers should pay more.

Mr. Markey: I support developing alternative forms of energy, like wind, solar, and geothermal technology. Wind energy is one of the most promising sources of clean, climate-friendly electricity in the United States. Wind farms will produce enough electricity to power 400,000 homes and will create clean energy jobs for Massachusetts. I believe Massachusetts should lead the clean energy revolution in this country to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and create jobs of and for the future.

Mr. Gomez: I am for an “all the above” approach to finding renewable energy solutions to our country’s energy problem, but Cape Wind is not it. This is a perfect example of what happens when government interferes with private sector growth and innovation. Renewable energy projects which rely almost entirely on government funding and will raise rates for consumers are not the types of projects I would support.

MVT: Martha’s Vineyard is home to many Brazilians. It is unclear how many are in this country illegally. Our court regularly employs interpreters to process Brazilian nationals, mostly for traffic related offenses, but law enforcement keeps no record of immigration status. What policies do you support with regard to illegal immigrants currently living and working in small communities like Martha’s Vineyard?

Mr. Markey: Our immigration system is broken. I believe we need comprehensive immigration reform.

First, we have to make sure our law enforcement officials have the tools they need to make our communities safe from crime. That means tighter border security and updating our technology to prevent any threat to our national security. And, I support a plan that cracks down on employers who hire undocumented workers.

I also support an immigration policy that encourages immigrants who were educated here to innovate here. And I fully support the DREAM Act, so that children who were brought here at a young age can earn citizenship by serving in the U.S. military or by pursuing higher education.

We need a comprehensive solution to our broken immigration system — one that lays out a plan for the 11 million individuals who are already here and gives them an opportunity to come out of the shadows to earn citizenship.

Mr. Gomez: As the son of Colombian immigrants, I have a unique perspective on this. I think that everyone should have a chance at legally obtaining the American dream. Immigration reform is currently at the forefront of the legislative agenda in Washington, setting up a significant debate on how to handle undocumented workers. Keeping our communities safe is extremely important and restructuring our immigration system will go a long way to ensure continued safety. I fully support the bipartisan bill proposed by the ‘Gang of 8′ and intend to make it a Gang of 9 once I get down to Washington.

MVT: Please name one specific policy you would support to address the nation’s deficit.

Mr. Markey: I have proposed a plan that would cut the deficit by $1.3 trillion over the next ten years.

I believe we should close corporate tax loopholes and crack down on offshore tax evasion. Doing that will save $1 trillion in the next decade. We should cut the subsidies that we give oil companies for drilling on public land and other tax giveaways to Big Oil. That will save $40 billion.

Under my deficit reduction plan, I would cut spending on outdated nuclear weapons that were designed for the Cold War. Making those targeted, smart cuts will save $105 billion over ten years.

And we should work to reduce the cost of medicine. Expanding on the cost-saving measures in health reform will bring down the cost of Medicare and save $187 billion over ten years.

Mr. Gomez: As a nation we have to live within our means. Every family has to balance their household budget; our government should do the same, that’s why I have included a balanced budget amendment in my ‘Reboot Congress’ plan. Congress should put forth a budget that addresses the out-of-control spending problems that have led us to almost $17 trillion in national debt. I will address the spending side as well as closing loopholes (including corporate loopholes) to fix the budget problems. The only way to approach this is through a bipartisan manner.

MVT: President Obama recently announced his intentions to support certain rebel groups in Syria with small arms and training. Do you support this decision?

Mr. Markey: We cannot allow the Assad regime to continue to use chemical weapons against rebel fighters and slaughter its own people. That’s why I support President Obama providing arms to carefully vetted elements of the resistance.

We need to continue to be cautious that whatever lethal assistance we provide to rebels, those weapons do not end up in the wrong hands — in the hands of radical groups who are hostile to the US, our interests, and our allies, including Israel.

The United States should continue to work with the international community to increase pressure on the Assad regime to step down and begin the transition to democracy.

Mr. Gomez: I agree with the President’s decision to arm the rebel groups, with the condition that the groups are not terrorist-affiliated and are pursuing democracy for their nation. I would actually go further than the President by enforcing a no-fly zone. Assad has brought unjustified harm against his people, particularly in light of the chilling revelation that he used chemical weapons in attacks on the rebels. Assad’s regime has shown its unwillingness to back down from their increasingly hostile actions, leaving no choice but to protect the interests of our nation and our allies.