Massachusetts Senate Candidate Loses Women’s Support As He Flounders On Reproductive Health Issues

Gabriel Gomez (Credit: Boston Herald)

Gabriel Gomez, the Republican nominee for John Kerry’s former Senate seat in Massachusetts, has been struggling to adequately articulate his positions on women’s health issues over the past several weeks. And as recent polling shows, that’s not winning him any favors with the state’s female voters.

Gomez has not clarified whether or not he supports the Blunt Amendment, which would allow employers to deny birth control coverage from their employees for any reason. The GOP candidate has admitted he hasn’t actually read the eight-page Blunt Amendment, and one of his spokespeople recently referred to the birth control policy as “inside baseball.” And this week, Gomez struggled to comment on abortion policy — first saying that he supported requiring women to undergo a 24-hour waiting period before obtaining an abortion, and then telling reporters he would vote against such a restriction if it came up for debate in the Senate.

Voters are taking notice. According to new figures from Public Policy Polling, women’s opinions of Gomez have significantly dropped over the past month. Back in the beginning of May, just after Gomez won the GOP primary, 41 percent of women viewed the candidate favorably while 24 percent viewed him unfavorably. In PPP’s most recent poll conducted at the beginning of June, just 35 percent of women had a favorable opinion of Gomez — and the number of women who viewed him unfavorably jumped to 44 percent. Altogether, that’s a 26 point shift away from the Republican candidate among this demographic.

“Women across the Commonwealth are seeing Gomez for who he really is — a pro-life Republican who can’t be trusted to protect women’s rights,” a spokesperson representing Gomez’s opponent, Rep. Ed Markey (D), said in a statement.

During last year’s presidential elections, Mitt Romney — another Republican from Massachusetts — had similar difficulty speaking on the record about women’s issues. The GOP candidate first said he would oppose the Blunt Amendment if it would prevent some women from accessing contraception, then turned around and said that women should “vote for the other guy” if they wanted greater access to birth control. The conflicting messages may have partly stemmed from the fact that when Romney was first running for office in his socially liberal home state, he was pro-choice. And even after he switched his position on abortion, he continued to use choice language to muddle his position on women’s health issues.

Exit polling following the 2012 elections showed that women’s health issues played a decisive role in Romney’s defeat.