As they go into the homestretch of Massachusetts’ special U.S. Senate election on June 25, Republican Gabriel Gomez and Democrat Edward Markey are fighting it out in Español.
Gomez, a private equity investor whose parents are Colombian immigrants, released a new radio ad in Spanish Tuesday on Spanish-language radio stations across the state. The campaign will follow that with Spanish-language print ads and campaign stops in Latino neighborhoods.
Markey, who serves in the House or Representatives, also will be running Spanish-language ads on TV and radio this week, according to his campaign.
It is the first time both candidates are appealing to Latinos through Spanish-language media, their campaigns said. Latino voters, who number some 300,000 in the state, could play a significant role if turnout is low, political observers say. Both are vying to fill the seat left vacant by Democrat John Kerry, who became U.S. Secretary of State earlier this year.
Campaign officials for Markey and Gomez say they have been paying attention to Latino voters since before this week.
“In the final week of this election, Gabriel Gomez is committed to reaching out to every Latino voter he can because – for the first time ever – Latinos have a real choice in this election,” said Leonardo Alcivar, a spokesman for the Gomez campaign.
Alcivar pointed to the “Latinos For Gomez” coalition of the campaign, his pledge to push for more jobs, comprehensive reform and improvements in public education.
His new ad, called “Oportunidades,” notes that he is the son of immigrants, and promises to fight for others to have a chance to attain the “American Dream.”
“We believe that Latinos in Massachusetts will stand with Gabriel Gomez because they know one thing – Washington politicians aren't standing up for them,” Alcivar said.
The battle for Latinos comes as both candidates were preparing for their third and final debate Tuesday night.
Gomez is struggling to close a gap with Markey, who now has double-digit lead.
Gomez has portrayed Markey as an entrenched Washington insider while Markey has cast Gomez as beholden to the national Republican agenda.
Last week, Markey scored an important victory – he won the endorsement of El Planeta, the state’s largest Spanish-language newspaper. It was the first time the newspaper, founded in 2004, had endorsed anyone.
“You would expect that for a Spanish-language media outlet, during an electoral campaign with a Latino U.S. Senate candidate, the decision to support him would be easy,” the editorial said about the newspaper’s endorsement. “On the matters that most affect the Latino community in Massachusetts, we think that Edward Markey has demonstrated a greater commitment to the defense of those issues than the Republican candidate, Gabriel Gómez.”
Several published reports noted that the endorsement came after Markey met with the editorial board to discuss his positions, and Gomez did not.
Markey’s campaign boasts that its Latino-targeted campaign, “Unidos Con Markey,” is among the most ambitious “engagement programs” in the state political history.
Markey and his campaign representatives have held roundtables with Latino community leaders and elected officials around the state since the early days of the race.
Markey’s campaign held a Latino Summit in early June that included San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, among others.
Gomez has campaigned in many of the state's Latino enclaves, and given speeches in fluent Spanish. He also had done several interviews in Spanish.
Gomez’s radio ad speaks about his background in the military as a pilot, and as a Navy SEAL.
“I’m going to Washington to fight for policies that create more job,” he said in the ad, “and for a solution to our immigration system that will welcome others like us who want to achieve the American Dream.”
Markey heads into the final stretch with more than a two-to-one fundraising advantage over Gomez. Markey's latest campaign finance report shows as of June 5, he had nearly $2.3 million to spend compared to just under $1 million for Gomez.
Elizabeth Llorente is Senior Reporter for FoxNews.com, and can be reached at Elizabeth.Llorente@Foxnews.com. Follow her on Twitter @Liz_Llorente.