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Massachusetts voters have options in Senate race

The special election to fill John Kerry's recently vacated Senate seat, has a crowded field. Three Republicans and two Democrats have submitted petitions to run. Last year's Massachusetts Senate race had no primary, but was still the most expensive campaign in the state's history. 

AP Photo/The Patriot Ledger, Greg Derr
Former U.S. attorney Michael Sullivan speaks to the media after turning in signatures to the town clerk in Abington, Mass., Wednesday. Sullivan is seeking the Republican nomination in a special election to run for the U.S. Senate seat left vacant when John Kerry became secretary of state.

Republican U.S. Senate hopeful Gabriel Gomez is proposing a lifetime ban on lobbying by former members of Congress and term limits for both senators and representatives.

In parts of a speech released by his campaign late Wednesday, Gomez doesn't say how many terms should be allowed, but said limits would phase out what he called "career politicians."

The comments are the first policy statements from Gomez, who is planning to kick off his campaign with a tour of the state Thursday. In the excerpts, Gomez describes himself as a "new kind of Republican."

"Obviously as a Republican I hold some conservative views," Gomez said. "But I'm an independent thinker, and I have no interest in going to Washington to engage in partisan trench warfare."

Gomez is one of five candidates — three Republicans and two Democrats — who say they've collected more than the 10,000 certified signatures needed to land a spot on the April 30 primary ballot. The Senate seat became vacant when Democrat John Kerry resigned to become U.S. Secretary of State.

The Cohasset businessman and former Navy SEAL joins Norfolk state Rep. Daniel Winslow in the GOP primary along with former U.S. Attorney Michael Sullivan, who said Wednesday his volunteer signature effort was successful.

Two Democrats — U.S. Reps. Edward Markey and Stephen Lynch — are also facing off. The election is scheduled for June 25.

Sullivan had been the biggest question mark. Unlike Winslow and Gomez, the Abington resident had relied solely on volunteer signature gatherers. Winslow and Gomez had relied on a mix of volunteer and paid gatherers.

Wednesday was the deadline for dropping signatures off at local city and town clerks to be certified. The signatures must be collected later and delivered to Secretary of State William Galvin's office before a candidate's name can officially be added to the ballot.

Sullivan said he was excited to submit so many signatures after launching the drive just 12 days ago. He said the ability to gather so many signatures so quickly shows he has a groundswell of support.

Sullivan described himself as fiscally conservative and said Congress and the White House share the blame for the current fiscal stalemate.

"I think there's tremendous common ground if people would apply some common sense," he said, speaking to reporters after dropping off a batch of signatures Wednesday morning at Abington Town Hall.

Sullivan, who likely has the strongest name recognition among the three Republican candidates, said he does not see himself as the front-runner, adding that "it's been a long time since I've gone out and campaigned."

He acknowledged that as a Republican, he faces an uphill battle in a largely Democratic state. He said before making his decision to run, he spoke to former U.S. Sen. Scott Brown, who encouraged him.

Sullivan, who served as Plymouth district attorney before being named U.S. attorney for Massachusetts in 2001, staked out conservative positions on a series of issues. He describes himself as "pro-life" on abortion, said gun bans "do not have the results you want them to have" and opposes gay marriage.

"I'm a traditionalist. I believe that marriage is really between a man and a woman," said Sullivan, who was also appointed acting director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms in 2006, and did double-duty for two years, working that job at the same time he was U.S. Attorney.

Markey planned to thank volunteers who helped collect signatures for him with a live webcast to dozens of house parties across the state Wednesday evening.

Gomez's tour of the state Thursday includes stops in Quincy, Shrewsbury and West Springfield. He hasn't spoken to reporters since first announcing his intention to run more than two weeks ago.

In his prepared comments, Gomez said he "will endeavor to be a voice for bipartisanship, reasonableness and common sense."

In pushing for term limits, Gomez said lawmakers should have to "come back home and live under the laws they have created."

On Tuesday, Lynch won the backing of the Massachusetts Nurses Association, the largest union of registered nurses and health professionals in the state. Markey had previously won the endorsement of the Massachusetts Teachers Union, the largest union in the state.

The crowded primary field is a sharp contrast to last year's high profile Senate race pitting Brown, a Republican, against Democrat Elizabeth Warren.

Both ran unopposed in their primaries, but still managed to run the most expensive campaign in Massachusetts history — with each raising and spending tens of millions of dollars.

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