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Former SEAL joins race for Senate

Cohasset private equity investor Gabriel Gomez is set to officially jump into the special Senate election today after a bungled campaign rollout yesterday — including an early website launch that briefly featured a picture of President Obama.

“I’m not a politician,” Gomez, a former selectman candidate, said in a statement that sought to cast the former Navy SEAL as a Washington outsider. “I’m not saying governance or being senator is easy, nor am I saying I don’t have some things to learn — I am saying I am up to the task.”

Senior campaign adviser Lenny Alcivar confirmed yesterday that an Obama picture was briefly used as a placeholder on Gomez’s website — but insisted the campaign rollout has gone exactly as planned.

“We’ve executed our plan as planned,” said Alcivar.

Gomez pulled nomination papers yesterday in a move that publicly tipped off the media before he could make his own official announcement. Alcivar said the early reporting “didn’t change our game plan at all.”

Gomez has been gaining the steady backing of staffers for former GOP presidential nominee and Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, including Gail Gitcho and Ron Kaufman, who took the 47-year-old businessman to Washington, D.C., to meet with Republican power players.

Gomez’s announcement will trigger an April 30 primary against state Rep. Daniel B. Winslow, a former aide to Romney. State Sen. Bruce Tarr is also considering joining the race to replace U.S. Secretary of State John F. Kerry.

Democratic Congressmen Edward J. Markey and Stephen F. Lynch also have launched Senate bids.

The candidates have until Feb. 27 to gather 10,000 certified signatures, a tough hurdle that usually requires latecomers like Gomez to hire signature-gathering firms.

Massachusetts Democrats jumped on Gomez’s rocky campaign launch yesterday, with state party chairman John Walsh saying, “Massachusetts voters who overwhelmingly voted last fall to support the president’s ideas and agenda won’t be swayed by Gomez’s attempt at running the Romney campaign 2.0.”

Alcivar, who briefly worked for former gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker’s 2010 campaign, said the early mudslinging shows “how scared the Democratic machine is.”

Gomez will likely face questions about FEC filings that show his donations to Obama in 2008 and to Alan Khazei, an ultra-liberal candidate in the 2009 special election. He also has donated to Romney’s presidential campaign.

Gomez, who lost a 2003 election for Cohasset selectman, joined a group of former military members that criticized Obama for taking too much credit in the capture of terrorist Osama bin Laden.

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