Edwin Gomes, a former Connecticut state senator, who challenged and changed how the political process works in Connecticut, died Tuesday morning from the injuries he suffered in a two-car accident earlier this month. He was 84.
The outpouring of remembrances came Tuesday as news of his death quickly spread.
Gomes, the first elected official to support Gov. Ned Lamont’s run for U.S. Senate back in 2006, was known as an outspoken steelworker and U.S. Army veteran who let you know whether he liked you or he didn’t.
“We came from very different places,” Lamont said Tuesday. “And ended up in the same place and became very close friends.”
Lamont said he knew Gomes to always stand up for what he believed and “let the consequences be damned.”
Gomes changed state politics when he became a plaintiff in a federal lawsuit that saw a federal judge overturn the delegate primary system in Connecticut back in 2003. The case paved the way for outsiders to challenge entrenched politicians. He would later win a special election for state senate in 2005.
Senate President Martin Looney and Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff remembered Gomes’ personality.
“He was one of the most authentic people to ever serve in the Senate and devoted so much of his life toward fighting for hard-working people of Connecticut,” Looney and Duff said in a statement. “Ed could tell a story like no other whether to humanize the most complex policy question or make everyone in a room burst with laughter.”
Sen. Marilyn Moore, who sat next to Gomes in the Senate circle, said his life was “as big and bold as was his personality.”
“The stories he shared with his friends compared to a Hemingway novel full of every turn and twist of life,” Moore said. “He entered politics under the tutelage of the late Charles Tisdale who encouraged him to run for city council and he continued in public service until his retirement from the State Senate in 2018.”
Sal Luciano, president of the AFL-CIO in Connecticut, said “as a retired steelworker and member of USW, Ed Gomes knew what it was like to work for a living and brought that experience to the state legislature every day. Ed never forgot where he came from and never apologized for standing with workers and fighting to make their lives better.”
Gomes focused on working families and was endorsed by the Working Families Party in his elections.
“A fearless leader, Ed was never afraid to take on those in power,” Carlos Moreno, state director of the Connecticut Working Families Party, said. “He was a powerful voice for social justice who fought tirelessly against wealthy elites and corporate interests. He often challenged his own caucus to be better advocates for working class folks in our state.”