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GOP’s Gomez opens new Senate fundraising committee

May 14, 2013

BOSTON (AP) — Republican U.S. Senate hopeful Gabriel Gomez has opened a joint fundraising committee with the National Republican Senatorial Committee as he tries to narrow a fundraising gap with Democratic challenger Edward Markey.

The Gabriel Gomez Victory Fund 2013 was created on May 7, according to a filing posted this week on the Federal Election Commission’s website.

The decision to create the joint fundraising committee comes weeks after Markey created his own joint fundraising committee with the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

The new Gomez committee could help the Cohasset private equity investor and former Navy SEAL bring in sorely needed campaign cash as he battles against a better funded Markey.

“We will do what we can in the short six weeks left to compete with the national Democratic machine,” Gomez campaign spokesman Will Ritter said Tuesday. “We certainly know that we won’t raise or spend as much as Congressman Markey.”

The committee will host a fundraiser in Boston next week with U.S. Senator John McCain, an Arizona Republican and fellow Navy veteran. Tickets to the event range from $2,600 for lunch to $37,000 per person for a VIP roundtable.

According to the FEC, joint fundraising committees can collect contributions, pay fundraising expenses and distribute net proceeds to two or more committees.

Markey headed into the general election with a significant campaign funding edge.

As of the last reporting period, which came before the April 30 primary, Markey had raised nearly $4.8 million in individual contributions compared with Gomez, who reported raising about $582,000 from supporters.

Gomez has also received some financial backing through a super PAC known as the Committee for a Better Massachusetts, which reported spending $93,000 during the Republican primary on radio ads to help Gomez defeat his two GOP challengers.

Outside groups supporting Markey in the Democratic primary spent nearly $1.8 million to help him defeat Stephen Lynch.

The Markey Senate Victory committee — the joint fundraising committee Markey formed with the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee — was created on April 17, according to a FEC filing. That was well ahead of the April 30 primary election.

The creation of the Gomez joint fundraising committee came as Markey cancelled a planned fundraising appearance by a former “The Dukes of Hazzard” actor turned musician.

Actor and ex-Georgia Congressman Ben “Cooter” Jones had been scheduled to perform with his “Cooter’s Garage Band” at a Tuesday night fundraising reception for Markey in Washington. An invitation said those attending could donate from $1,000 up to $5,200. The money goes to Markey’s campaign committee.

Jones made headlines last year after he criticized NASCAR for cancelling a planned appearance at the Phoenix International Raceway by the 1969 Dodge Charger known as the “General Lee” in the television series because the car has a Confederate flag on its roof. Professional golfer Bubba Watson was scheduled to drive the car for the parade lap.

The Confederate flag is considered by some as an emblem of slavery in the U.S. South.

Jones, who played the mechanic “Cooter” Davenport on the TV show, protested the decision, calling it “an extraordinary insult to rural Southerners.”

“At a time when tens of millions of Americans are honoring their Union and Confederate ancestors during this Sesquicentennial of the Civil War, NASCAR has chosen to dishonor those Southerners who fought and died in that terrible conflict by caving to “political correctness,” Jones wrote on his website.

Jones also said that as a cast member and owner of several “General Lees,” he could attest that “the car and our show reflect the very best of American values, and that Hazzard County was a place where racism was not tolerated.”

A spokesman for Markey, however, said he had only learned of Jones’ comments Tuesday. Markey said he disagrees with Jones and asked him not to participate in the fundraiser.

“Ed believes such confederate relics are highly offensive, and should not be displayed in public settings, period,” said Markey campaign press secretary Andrew Zucker.

The special U.S. Senate election to fill the seat left vacant by the resignation of John Kerry is June 25.

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