Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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August 27, 2009

ROMNEY FOR SENATE?.... Whether Massachusetts law is changed or not, the state will host a special election in January to fill the vacancy left by Sen. Edward Kennedy. It's likely that Massachusetts will elect a Democrat, but it's also likely that Republicans will at least field a candidate.

And who might that candidate be? U.S. News' Peter Roff has a former one-term governor in mind.

Surprisingly enough, this brings things back full circle to [Mitt] Romney, who up to now has been busy laying the groundwork for another presidential bid in 2012. It would be an intriguing thing if, after waiting a day or two out of respect for the late senator, Romney were to downshift and announce he will be a candidate in the upcoming election to fill Kennedy's vacant Senate seat.

Such an announcement would likely be embraced immediately by the Republicans, who would like almost nothing more than to deny Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada his new, hard-won, 60-vote, filibuster-proof majority. As a self-funding candidate who has already been elected once statewide, Romney has nearly 100 percent name ID. And, in an environment where President Obama seems to be dragging the Democrats down, he would be a serious threat to the Democratic hegemony in Massachusetts's congressional delegation. Meaning Romney likely would win.

In Roff's fantasy scenario, Romney could serve a couple of years, dazzle Republicans with his ideas, and then parlay his Senate service into the GOP presidential nomination in 2012. It's not just Roff -- National Review's Lisa Schiffren likes the idea, too.

This is certainly an ... what's the word ... imaginative proposal. But I don't think it's especially realistic.

First, Romney ran for governor in Massachusetts as a center-left, pro-choice, tolerant New England Republican. He left office after just one term as a conservative with an approval rating in the 30s. Which version of Romney would run for Kennedy's seat? He couldn't run to the right; he'd lose. He couldn't run to the left; it would ruin his presidential ambitions.

Second, Roff may have missed it, but while President Obama's approval ratings aren't as strong as they were, he maintains a 73% approval rating in Massachusetts. It doesn't look as if the Bay State would be anxious to replace Ted Kennedy with a harsh, reflexive opponent of the White House.

And third, by all appearances, Mitt Romney isn't actually a resident of Massachusetts.

Other than these minor details, though, it's a great idea. Run, Mittster, run.

Steve Benen 9:25 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (35)

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And he can give us all the details on the golden tablets and special glasses!

Posted by: ComradeAnon on August 27, 2009 at 9:30 AM | PERMALINK

What a bizarre piece Mr. Roff has submitted.

That Harry Reid's 60-vote caucus is a "filibuster-proof majority" will come as news to many, including Harry Reid. And Ben Nelson. And Joe Lieberman. And Mary Landrieu. And Evan Bayh. ...

Posted by: scott_m on August 27, 2009 at 9:31 AM | PERMALINK

Not to mention that Romney's wife and kids are eventually going to throttle him if he doesn't stop throwing all the money away!

Posted by: dcsusie on August 27, 2009 at 9:32 AM | PERMALINK


and would we get a lot of press about his 10 or 12 sons in people mag? and, and, all their houses around the country? and and what great white clean wondrous americans they are? and and how they love to have good white clean fun all the time but work really really hard all the time, too? and and the special nature of the mormon church?

oh, boy!

now that's entertainment...

Posted by: neill on August 27, 2009 at 9:36 AM | PERMALINK

Liberals are going to create rumors about Romney's resident status to divert attention from BHO's lack of citizenship.

Posted by: Al on August 27, 2009 at 9:40 AM | PERMALINK

Go ahead, Willard, make my day. Run in MA & have your hat handed to you. What are these NRO types smoking & how can I get some ? After spending the presidential primary campaign running away from Massachusetts, dissing it frequently on national TV, and governing it on an absentee basis for most of his term in the State House, Mitttens has a snowball's chance in h-e- double hockey sticks. Even the Republicans in the state despise him as an opportunist. Despite promises to build up the party, he left it even weaker & more irrelevant than before.

Posted by: fignaz on August 27, 2009 at 9:42 AM | PERMALINK

>>Liberals are going to create rumors about Romney's resident status to divert attention from BHO's lack of citizenship.

LOL! That's a good one! Of course, it wouldn't surprise me if some on the right actually believed that...


Posted by: MasterD, damn yankee on August 27, 2009 at 9:47 AM | PERMALINK

How's that saying go again?
Oh - "May you live in interesting times."
I'd rather have Bill Weld back.

I would kind of like to see Mike Dukakis involved, truth be told. I'm pro-wonk.
And for all the bitching from the residents of the Commonwealth about Taxachusetts, there's a reason that there's a ton of high-tech in the state, driving other industries.
And I'd like to see him sworn in wearing a tank commander's helmet, saying "Go fuck yourselves."

Posted by: kenga on August 27, 2009 at 9:49 AM | PERMALINK

Al - your snark is precious. If you're not being snarky - tough.

Posted by: sduffys on August 27, 2009 at 9:49 AM | PERMALINK

Would that not require Romney to make yet another flip-flop to being pro-abortion again?

Posted by: Kid Charlemagne on August 27, 2009 at 9:49 AM | PERMALINK

Well, at least K-Lo's heart is a-flutter.

Posted by: Cervantes on August 27, 2009 at 9:51 AM | PERMALINK

I love how the MSM now accepts the meme of Obama as the new Carter as fact.

Posted by: howie on August 27, 2009 at 9:53 AM | PERMALINK

Now that I've thought about it - Mitt has pretty deep pockets. There's lucre to be made for the enterprising Independent promoting him. And fignaz is right, there's a low risk of his success.
So it may be best for all concerned to keep him busy whilst reducing his fortune and the trouble he can cause with it.

Posted by: kenga on August 27, 2009 at 9:53 AM | PERMALINK

Nate Silver on "Could a Republican Win Ted Kennedy's Senate Seat"--

"Short answer: Very probably not.

Longer answer: Almost certainly not if the candidate is Mitt Romney."


Posted by: converse on August 27, 2009 at 9:56 AM | PERMALINK

I seem to remember that as part of his presidential run, Romney made a point of trashing liberal Massachusetts, so that about tears it.

Posted by: Karen on August 27, 2009 at 10:06 AM | PERMALINK

Karen posted what I meant to post. Romney not only ran as an arch conservative in his presidential run, he ran *against* his constituents--he attacked and parodied and smeared each and every one of us. I think its clear that there's a small subset of people in MA who so hate liberalism that they listened to Romney attack us and thought "great! keep it up! those other MA residents sure are losers, but Mitt and I would be like best friends if he knew me." But that's a very small percentage of the entire state. Just a few ads running Romney's own words--plus the fact that he ditched the governorship rather obviously for his presidential run--will be enough to do him in. You only get to run for higher office and jump ship once. People in MA are used to their governors and senators seeing the state as a stepping stone to higher office, but they don't usually allow themselves to be used twice by the same guy.


Posted by: aimai on August 27, 2009 at 10:11 AM | PERMALINK

Would that not require Romney to make yet another flip-flop to being pro-abortion again? - Kid Charlemagne

Not to speak of the flip-flop to that flip-flop if he then were to seek the GOP nomination in 2012.

Posted by: SRW1 on August 27, 2009 at 10:21 AM | PERMALINK

Willard may have forgotten that there are such novel things as video and audio recordings. Aimai is spot on. On one hand I hope he runs, for the entertainment value; on the other, I have too much to do right now, and if he ran I'd have to work actively against him. I had to suffer Mitt the Twit as governor, I'm not willing to be subjected to him as senator.

Posted by: Skepticat on August 27, 2009 at 10:23 AM | PERMALINK

Mitt for Senate on the GOP ticket? As a MA resident, I say, great idea. That would be the holly stake through the heart of the Massachusetts Republican Party. The shoot-out in the lifeboat would be the funniest thing in years. Run, Mittens, run.

Posted by: JoeS on August 27, 2009 at 10:24 AM | PERMALINK

there's a small subset of people in MA who so hate liberalism that they listened to Romney attack us and thought "great! keep it up! those other MA residents sure are losers, but Mitt and I would be like best friends if he knew me."

This made me shriek with glee. aimai's posts rock.

Posted by: shortstop on August 27, 2009 at 10:26 AM | PERMALINK

As a Mass resident I can give you two reasons why this is completely implausible:

1. The majority of citizens resent the fact that Romney got elected as Governor and immediately started running for President.
2. You're correct: old, moderate, pro-choice Romney was palatable, new right wing, zealot hugging Romney - no way!

Posted by: ottercliff on August 27, 2009 at 10:30 AM | PERMALINK

He'd better make his New Hampshire address his current principal address instead of his Californian home. Otherwise it would be too much of a stretch to write off his failure to fulfill a residency requirement as simple geographical confusion.

Posted by: Peter G on August 27, 2009 at 10:33 AM | PERMALINK

The best the Republicans could do here would be to position the loser for another run, and Patrick isn't looking good right now. Running Mitt would screw that up too.

Posted by: snoey on August 27, 2009 at 10:36 AM | PERMALINK

Romney's such a world-class shape-shifter, I wouldn't count him out as a viable candidate. That said, I would hope that after he ran for President as somebody who hates Massachusetts, that we'd all had enough of Mitt. And his sons Sock, Hat, Scarf and Legwarmer.

Posted by: Cap'n Chucky on August 27, 2009 at 10:45 AM | PERMALINK

Wow, Republicans really do live in a world all their own, don't they?

Thank goodness Sarah Palin never lived in Mass., because I hear she's looking for work now, too.

Posted by: biggerbox on August 27, 2009 at 11:03 AM | PERMALINK

As long as they promise to bring out those ridiculous foam mitts, and his sons get to speak to the press, I'm all for a Romney run.

Posted by: SteinL on August 27, 2009 at 11:07 AM | PERMALINK

How about Eric Cantor? Could we have Cantor at bat, please?
Zip! Zip! Zip! Out!!!

Posted by: SteinL on August 27, 2009 at 11:08 AM | PERMALINK

i nominate Ted Stevens

Posted by: cha cha cha on August 27, 2009 at 11:17 AM | PERMALINK

Romney lost the race for the same Senate seat to Ted Kennedy in 1994 -- a campaign encapsulated in the following anecdote (Boston Globe, 1994.10.28):

The 47-year-old businessman has been earnest but not witty in his first campaign, though he tried one gibe at the hour’s end last night. “I was in Dorchester not long ago. Someone said this is Kennedy country and they handed a sign to me in front of my face. And I looked around and I saw boarded-up buildings, and I saw jobs leaving, and I said, ‘It looks like it.'" [...]

If Dorchester were a separate city, it would be the second-largest in the commonwealth. Romney is a rookie, and while still hoping for victory, might also be pondering a second chance at politics. On the second effort, he might try detailing where his opponent has voted wrong, not criticizing the place where thousands of his potential voters live.

A few years later, Romney was elected governor of Massachusetts.

Posted by: Cervantes on August 27, 2009 at 11:19 AM | PERMALINK

Barney Frank for the Dems. He can tag-team with Al Franken against the Reps and dinos in the Senate.

Posted by: anandine on August 27, 2009 at 12:07 PM | PERMALINK

wouldn't it be great to appoint his wife? then all the repubs can ask her to her face about "death panels".

Posted by: cha cha cha on August 27, 2009 at 12:08 PM | PERMALINK

Karen & Aimai -

Exactly! Romney's own words trashing Massachusetts to win the support of unrepentent rightwing secessionists during the 2008 primaries will remove him from any political consideration here in the Baystate. In fact, he's ranked right up there with other notable turncoats like Johnny Damon and Roger Clemens and he does not dare to appear in public in Massachusetts without screening the crowd first. If he had won the nomination in '08, Obama would have won Massachusetts by a wider margin.

Posted by: The Other Ed on August 27, 2009 at 12:26 PM | PERMALINK

Roff obviously believes that those of us in the Commonwealth have short memories. Romney is about as popular here as Bush and Bin Laden. Massachusetts lost a great man, and I doubt that anyone is going think that Mittler is a suitable replacement.

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