Massachusetts Republican Gabriel Gomez planned to finish the Boston Marathon and meet with the media immediately afterward to continue his race for the United States Senate, until two explosions rocked the finish line.
Gomez finished the race in four hours and eight minutes, as first reported by Masslive.com, “just minutes before the blast,” according to a Tuesday statement from the Gomez campaign.
The former Navy Seal told msnbc’s Andrea Mitchell on Tuesday that he had just met with his wife and four children (including an eight-year-old son) and was a block and a half away when he heard the first blast. It took him 30 minutes to get back in touch with his family because of overloaded cellular service.
“Like all Bostonians and Americans today, my heart hurts in the wake of this terrible tragedy. Our prayers are with the victims of this senseless act, which turned a beautiful tradition into a horrible day we will never forget,” Gomez said. “As a military veteran I’ve seen awful things, but the scenes from the Back Bay yesterday were almost too much to bear.”
“Today is not a day for politics, but I’d like to thank Mike Sullivan and Dan Winslow for calling immediately after the attack to make sure that we were clear of the danger,” Gomez continued.
Gomez was unharmed, but it remains unclear how he and his political opponents will proceed with the April 30 primary just two weeks away.
Before Monday, the campaign was becoming increasingly negative. Sullivan used a television ad to attack Gomez for statements of support for President Barack Obama and the president’s policies on immigration and gun control. Gomez has labeled his opponents “career politicians.”
The Gomez campaign released a poll, conducted April 2-3 by OnMessage Inc., which showed him leading the primary with 24 percent to Sullivan’s 23 percent and Winslow’s 17 percent. A previous March 19-21 poll, conducted by local MassINC, showed Sullivan in the lead with 28 percent, Winslow at 10 percent, and Gomez at 8 percent.
It’s unclear how the bombing will affect the tone and strategies of the campaign as well as turnout on Election Day.
The winner of the Republican primary will likely face Rep. Ed Markey (D), in the June 25 general election, in what will be a tough race for any Republican. The special election is being held after Sen. John Kerry (D) was confirmed as secretary of state.
This article originally appeared on NBC Latino here.