Thursday, August 25, 2005

No, Virginia, There is No Romney Claus

Just one month ago, former Weld/Cellucci hack appointee Virginia Buckingham used her Herald Column to warn Mitt Romney not to drag down the state GOP while he goes off on his crusade to win the 2008 Republican Presidential nomination. Here is Blue Mass. Group's description of that column:

Buckingham goes on to note that Romney was elected based on his "false assertion that he was just another moderate Republican, sour on taxes, sweet on social issues," and castigates Romney's hijacking of the state party apparatus to defend his veto of the morning-after pill bill, pointing out that "setting up the state party as an attack dog against the 'professional abortion lobby' may play well in South Carolina, but it's the kiss of death here." It's hard to imagine the state GOP sinking further into irrelevance than it already is, but Buckingham is clearly scared that Romney will find a way.
Some pretty harsh words. On Thursday, however, she was singing a different tune, planting a big wet kiss to the Governor in the pages of the Herald. Now, she says, despite all of his posturing, Romney is a shoo-in to be reelected, should he choose to run. What changed in that month? Who knows. Maybe some of Buckingham's old friends took her to the proverbial woodshed for disloyalty. Or maybe she just realized that without Romney, the GOP savior of 2006 is none other than Kerry Healey. Anyway, here are some of her salient points:
[H]e'd have to promise to serve out his term, to stop the Democrats from bludgeoning him with the "he's outta here" mantra.
Now, maybe I'm naive, but I think that by now voters in Massachusetts have realized exactly how much a promise from Mitt Romney is worth. Heck, we noted earlier this month that even conservatives think he's "too opportunistic to be trusted". Romney has already moved his focus so far out of state that any promise is going to be met with skepticism and Democrats are certainly going to take advantage of that.
Where Democrats envision balloons falling and election night acceptance speeches when they see polls like that reported in the Boston Globe last Sunday, the ought to see trouble. Attorney General Tom Reilly leads Romney 51 percent to 38 percent and Romney's job approval rating hovers at 50 percent. But given the beating Romney has taken for his national wanderlust and conservative tacking, he's in pretty good shape.
Let me get this straight. An incumbent governor polling at 38% against a well-liked, well-known state figure is in "pretty good shape"? Sure, Romney can take some comfort in his approval ratings, but what good is approval if it doesn't translate into votes? Don't forget, it was the pollster at UNH who said "There is nothing positive for him here in Massachusetts," not the Democrats. That's not spin.
Remember the overwhelming ballot question vote to end bilingual education? I suspect a similar margin would undo same-sex marriage should voters ever have the opportunity to vote on it. These are Romney voters.
That may be the case, but don't forget that Romney is now against the ballot question that may potentially appear on the 2006 ballot. That's the same position that MassEquality has. The ballot measure that Romney wants won't appear until 2008. Guess who won't be on the ballot for governor then. If you said Mitt Romney, you'd be right!
Romney hasn't completely alienated those moderate suburbanites who gave him his victory margin in 2002 either. Yes, they're pro-choice and comfortable with the same-sex couple raising kids down the street, but they're getting a whopping property tax bill... These are Romney voters, too.
There are two things wrong with this. First of all having a pro-choice governor is going to be more and more important as the Supreme Court gets more conservative under Bush. Convincing the pro-choice voters of Massachusetts that it matters whether the governor believes in reproductive rights and the larger right to privacy should be an easy job for the Democratic candidate. As for property taxes, how much power does the Governor have to effect those? He can lower them by increasing local aid to communities. In which direction has local aid gone under Romney's leadership? In which direction have property taxes gone after fifteen years of Republican governors? Romney has been balancing the budget on the backs of our cities and towns, where the only recourse to make up the shortfall is to raise local taxes.

The fact of the matter is that Romney doesn't have a record to run on, and Buckingham even admits this in her article. "He hasn't done anything great," she writes, "but he hasn't done anything bad, either." What a great campaign slogan that will make. Vote Romney: He hasn't done anything bad yet!