His entry would crowd the ‘moderate’ lane in GOP primary

This article originally appeared on CommonWealth.

The Republican primary field to take on US Sen. Elizabeth Warren next year now includes three candidates, but another contender is still eyeing the race. Businessman and former Navy SEAL Gabriel Gomez is meeting with potential advisors to chart a path forward and still closely considering his options, according to a source with direct knowledge of the discussions. He ran unsuccessfully for Senate in 2013 against Ed Markey after winning a three-way GOP primary.

A Gomez candidacy would further complicate the electoral math in an already crowded GOP field. If history is any guide, Gomez would most likely position himself as a centrist, looking for votes in a part of the electorate where Beth Lindstrom and John Kingston are already jockeying for advantage. Kingston has already dropped $3 million of his own money into his campaign, and Lindstrom holds deep connections within the GOP establishment.

Meanwhile, state Rep. Geoff Diehl (and 2016 Trump campaign state co-chair) occupies his own lane to the right now that entrepreneur Shiva Ayyadurai has announced he’s bolting from the party primary and will challenge Warren as an independent. The prospect of Gomez, Lindstrom and Kingston fighting over the same moderate votes may play to Diehl’s favor in the primary.

But Diehl’s association with Trump is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it may help him in the primary. Trump trounced the field by 30 points in the state’s presidential primary. And by a two-to-one margin, Massachusetts Republicans have a favorable view of Trump according to this week’s WBUR poll. But fast-forward to the general, and it’s a different story. Trump suffered one of his worst general elections losses in Massachusetts. This week’s WBUR poll finds just 27 percent of the state’s voters view Trump favorably.

If Gomez does jump in, his past political activity gives some hints as to what sort of campaign he might run. He endorsed Charlie Baker in the 2014 Republican primary, but also donated to independent candidate Jeff McCormick. He has since donated to both Republicans and Democrats, including both Tito Jackson and Marty Walsh in 2016.

Unlike his opponents, Gomez has run statewide before and may have a leg up in terms of campaign organization. But Massachusetts voters can have short memories. After Charlie Baker ran in 2010, voters all but forgot who he was until his 2014 campaign. There has been no public polling to date on Gomez’s prospects, so we don’t know for sure how well voters will remember him from his 2013 special election run.

There’s another challenge for all of the candidates as the field grows. To make it to the primary ballot, candidates have to earn 15 percent of delegates to the GOP convention in 2018. With four candidates on the ballot, it’s conceivable that not all of the candidates will make it through. It’s hard to say what delegates will be looking for from a candidate and whether there will be enough looking for moderates to advance three candidates.

With this and a number of obstacles to navigate, Gomez will have his work cut out for him, should he decide to run.

MPG ICYMI

The Horse Race is going live! Join MPG President Steve Koczela and POLITICO’s Lauren Dezenski at Ned Devine’s for a special, live episode. They’ll preview the 2018 elections to watch and discuss a key issue for the year ahead: women (and the lack thereof) in Massachusetts elected office. Helping them break it all down are special guests Jenn Nassour of Conservative Women for a Better Future and Puja Mehta of Emerge Massachusetts. Buy your tickets here!

Catch up on past episodes on SoundCloud, iTunes and TuneIn, including our most recent Election Edition, breaking down the results of Election Day in Massachusetts.

Our latest WBUR poll finds Charlie Baker and Elizabeth Warren with wide leads over their respective challengers, all of whom are struggling with name recognition; Steve joined Morning Edition to break down the numbers.

The poll also showed strong support for three questions on the 2018 ballot: the so-called millionaires’ tax, reducing the state sales tax and paid family leave. Steve and Lauren joined All Things Considered to discuss the results.

The Crosstabs

The latest Gallup average has President Donald Trump’s approval rating at 37 percent; the FiveThirtyEight average shows 38.1 percent.

Graphic from FiveThirtyEight.

A focus group in North Carolina describes the first year of Trump’s presidency as “divisive,” “mayhem” and a “nightmare”. The group was made up of both Trump and Clinton voters, with Trump voters having some of the sharpest critiques.

Gallup finds just 28 percent are satisfied with the way the nation is being governed and that trust in government remains at a distressingly low point.

Quinnipiac and Marist both find Democrats with double-digit leads in the generic Congressional ballot, raising the question of whether they coud retake the House of Representatives.

Evaluations of the GOP’s tax plan are bleak, with Quinnipiac showing just 25 percent support the proposal. YouGov finds just 12 percent of Americans believe they themselves would get a tax break, while 51 percent believe President Trump would see his taxes lowered.

Alabama polls are, um, widely dispersed. And this RealClearPolitics chart does not include the National Republican Senatorial Committee poll which showed Roy Moore 12 points behind Democratic candidate Doug Jones.

A HuffPost/YouGov poll finds that a slim majority of Americans (and wide majority of Hillary Clinton voters) think the past allegations of sexual harassment and assault against former president Bill Clinton are credible.

———————————–Nerd Alert Tearline———————————–

The polls were actually farther off last week’s Virginia Governor’s race than they were in the 2016 presidential race. But because they predicted the winner, there has been less outcry about them being “wrong.” The Washington Post has the exit polls.

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