Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Unintentional Comedy From the WSJ

Brendan Miniter has a ridiculous piece in the Wall Street Journal where he advises Governor Romney that the best way for him to increase his Presidential chances is for him to decline to run for re-election, but run for Ted Kennedy's Senate seat.

The biggest reason to consider a Senate bid is the opponent: Sen. Ted Kennedy. Losing such a race would not be devastating, since hardly anyone thinks Mr. Kennedy is beatable. It certainly wouldn't be anywhere near as harmful to Mr. Romney's political future as losing a bid for re-election as governor. Unlike in the gubernatorial race, a loss in a Senate bid could be turned into a political victory. Mr. Romney did just that when he challenged the senior senator in 1994. He turned that loss into a net positive by pointing out on the speaking circuit afterward that he surprised everyone by winning a surprising 41% of the vote--an impressive performance against a Kennedy in Massachusetts.

He would gain real political capital, of course, if he managed to pick off the old liberal icon. John Thune certainly gained instant respect among grassroots conservatives by beating Minority Leader Tom Daschle last year. And there is a slim hope that such a gamble could pay off. Mr. Romney has a lot more name ID than he did in 1994, and as governor he can spend the next 18 months campaigning in the state while the lethargic and detached Sen. Kennedy splits his time between Washington and his home in Hyannis Port, Mass.
Romney lost his 1994 race against Kennedy by 17 points, which would be a landslide defeat if it were against anyone else but Kennedy. Remember, too, that polls showed the candidates in a dead heat as late as September of that year. The more people found out about Romney, the better Kennedy looked that year.

As for being lethargic and detached, well, that's a far cry from the dancing firebrand I saw on Saturday. Never mind that Kennedy has over 4.7 million dollars on hand (and counting) in preparation for a race against nobody. In fact, since that 1994 race, Kennedy stopped taking his opposition for granted. He raised over six and a half million dollars to trounce the non-entity Jack E. Robinson in 2000. In fact, I've argued that the state GOP probably wants to make Kennedy as much of a non-factor in 2006 as possible to ensure that his formidable organization doesn't drag down their quest to retain the governorship.

Miniter seems to think that Romney would have at least a small shot at beating Kennedy, but it's clear to me that this would be a huge waste of time and money for the governor. If he wants to spend 2007 and 2008 unemployed, he should just decline to run for re-election. Why should he waste millions of dollars on a race he won't win for a Senate seat everyone knows he's just going to leave? Not only that, but were he to run for Senate he'd have to take stands on all those national issues that, as governor, he can be vague on (a Romney specialty). He's having enough trouble running for president and governor at the same time.