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Leading Massachusetts Republican expects new entrant to Senate race

Former Massachusetts Lt. Governor Kerry Healey acknowledges applause before addressing the final session of the 2012 Republican National Con
Former Massachusetts Lt. Governor Kerry Healey acknowledges applause before addressing the final session of the 2012 Republican National Con

By Scott Malone

CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts (Reuters) - Former Massachusetts Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey, one of the state's top Republicans, said on Wednesday her party could soon have a second contender in the race to fill the Senate seat formerly occupied by John Kerry.

Healey, who served under former Governor Mitt Romney, said that Gabriel Gomez, a former Navy Seal and Harvard Business School graduate, could represent "the new face of the Republican party in the northeast."

"I believe he'll be making a decision soon," Healey said after an event at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government on the future of the Republican party. "He would bring a lot to the table in terms of both economic expertise but also the kind of experience that we need as we venture into an era when much of our foreign policy seems to be conducted through special operations."

Two well-known Democrats -- Representatives Edward Markey and Stephen Lynch -- have already launched campaigns ahead of an April 30 primary and June 25 special election.

But the Republican field has been thin, with some of best-known names, including former Senator Scott Brown, former Governor William Weld and Healey herself bowing out of the race, despite calls from some in the party to run.

So far, only one Republican, State Representative Dan Winslow, has entered the race.

The lack of a well-known candidate could dim Republicans' hopes of adding to their 45 seats in the U.S. Senate, where Democrats have a majority.

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, a Democrat, on January 30 named his former chief of staff, William Cowan, to hold Kerry's Senate seat until a successor is picked.

Cowan told reporters he viewed the appointment as temporary and had no plans to run in the special election.

(Reporting By Scott Malone; Editing by M.D. Golan)

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