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Former Navy SEAL is second Republican in Massachusetts Senate race

By Scott Malone

BOSTON (Reuters) - Former Navy SEAL Gabriel Gomez, a Republican, said on Tuesday he would run for the U.S. Senate seat formerly held by John Kerry, setting the stage of two competitive primaries in Massachusetts before the June 25 special election.

Gomez, a 47-year-old newcomer to politics, will face State Representative Dan Winslow in the April 30 primary.

"As I look at Washington I see a lot of unproductive noise and bickering, and I see two parties attacking each other at all times over every issue. I see gridlock," Gomez said in a statement. "I'm running because I refuse to be cynical about America or about America's future."

Former Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey last week said Gomez, a businessman and the son of Colombian immigrants, could "represent the new face of the Republican Party in the northeast."

The winner of the Republican primary will face off against one of two Democrats currently running, U.S. Representatives Edward Markey and Stephen Lynch, either of whom would have a leg up in the Democratic-leaning state.

Gomez entered the military after graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, and became a pilot before entering SEAL training. He left the Navy in 1996 and went on to graduate from Harvard Business School, later joining private equity firm Advent International.

Gomez and Winslow entered the race after a handful of better-known Republicans, including former Senator Scott Brown -who won the state's last special election in 2010 to take the seat held by the late Edward M. Kennedy - former Governor William Weld and Healey, opted out.

Winslow was an aide to former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential candidate in 2012.

Republicans currently hold 45 seats in the U.S. Senate.

Following Kerry's appointment as secretary of state, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, a Democrat, last month appointed his former chief of staff, William Cowan, to the seat until a successor is picked.

Cowan said he had no plans to run in the special election.

(Reporting by Scott Malone; Editing by Doina Chiacu)

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