The feud between City Councilor Brian Gomes and businessman Michael Panagakos looks to some like an October Surprise calculated to impact the election.

October Surprises are a reality, a myth, and usually something in between. The term “October Surprise” means an event that is created to influence the minds of the voters just prior to them going to the polls on the first Tuesday in November. Claims against President Nixon and President Reagan have fallen under the umbrella of an “October Surprise.”

On October 31, 2019, an attorney for Michael Panagakos had a constable serve City Councilor Brian Gomes with a letter. The letter made representations that the councilor was improperly using his elected position to harm the financial interests of Mr. Panagakos. The specific issue involved a legal recreational marijuana retailer who is contracted to lease property from Panagakos.

Read the letter here: Gomes Letter

The letter resulted in a serious of phone calls by Mr. Panagakos and Councilor Gomes to my radio program – listen to them here:

But is this an October Surprise designed to impact the re-election of Councilor Gomes?

October Surprises are done by candidates and political operatives and they are executed in secret. This letter was done by a businessman and he did it in the full light of day.

Dirty tricks are done by political campaigns when the election is tight. Councilor Brian Gomes isn’t in a tight race and he will be re-elected, as he has been for decades.

This doesn’t look like an October Surprise to me. It looks like a personal feud that has developed into a legal matter. ​

Chris McCarthy is the host of The Chris McCarthy Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from 10 a.m. to noon. Contact him at and follow him on Twitter @Chris_topher_Mc. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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