Romney and the end of the Massachusetts GOP?

Already, South Carolina has seen large amounts of attention from those who are looking at seeking the 2008 Republican nomination to run for President. While these candidates seek to curry favor through a number of approaches, including contributions to local party organizations and candidates, it's not a bad idea to look at how effectively they've led in their home states and districts as an indication of what kind of job they would do in leading their party on the 2008 campaign trail, and once elected.

Recently, I was criticized for questioning the last-weekend presence of former Virginia GOP Governor and RNC Chairman Jim Gilmore, who chose to spend the last few days of the 2006 campaigns here instead of in Virginia, where control of the Senate was swung by a seven-thousand vote defeat. The kind of major reversal that a well-known and connected politico like Gilmore could have helped prevent.

Ironically, I predicted the very possibility of this happening.

No doubt some of the Mitt Romney supporters who praised my posting which questioned recent attacks on Romney's religious beliefs will be surprised and probably not pleased with this posting, but I may as well be fair and start looking at some of the other GOP presidential hopefuls who are courting South Carolina voters.

While GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney has made a bit of a splash down here in South Carolina, there are some interesting words of concern about his ability to build and lead the Republican party voiced from "back home" ...

The party's slide has been so precipitous that Republicans yesterday did not contest 130 of 200 legislative seats, fielded a challenger in only three of 10 congressional districts, and put up fewer candidates for statewide office (three) than the Green-Rainbow Party (four).

Even in 1986, the previous modern low point for Republicans in the Bay State, the GOP held a seat in Congress and more than a dozen additional seats in the Legislature. In those days, it was sometimes said that Republicans were a third party in Massachusetts, behind liberal Democrats and conservative Democrats.

The party's numbers in the Legislature have continued to ebb steadily for a decade, even after Governor Mitt Romney's aggressive, well-financed assault on the Democratic Legislature two years ago. It was a disaster as Republicans actually lost a net three seats to the Democrats. As he explores a candidacy for president, Romney leaves behind a party in ruins in his own state.

Here are some pretty strong words from James Rappaport, a former Mass GOP chairman:

"Locally, this is a rebuke to Mitt Romney and checking out within six months after being elected and having accomplished almost nothing," said Rappaport, whom Romney rejected as a running mate in favor of Kerry Healey four years ago.

"Mitt Romney, through his stalwart efforts, has managed to bring our party back to where it was in 1986," he said.

Statistics about the loss of GOP seats in the Massachusetts legsiature can be confirmed at They lost a Senate seat and two House seats to end up 35-5 in their Senate and 141-19 in their House. But the GOP hasn't held much more ground than that in many years, so it wouldn't be fair to blame him for a GOP blowout, but it is still fair to ask what he's done to improve the situation back home.

So, what do ya'll think ... ?

14 Response to "Romney and the end of the Massachusetts GOP?"

  1. Anonymous 20/11/06 08:34
    that record isn't very impressive, that's for sure.
  2. Anonymous 20/11/06 08:36
    if you look at a lot of the presidential suitors, you'll see many of them have no record of GOP gains at home - romney is joined by pataki, gilmore and huckabee when you look at their failure to produce results at home in the GOP.

    one can say bad things about guiliani and mccain if they want, but those guys have worked their tails off to help republicans over the last few election cycles, and that should count for something.
  3. Anonymous 20/11/06 10:33
    it's easy to see your previous posting was intended to as a smokescreen so you could lay into romney later on.

    we'd like to know what your real agenda is, and whose campaign you're working for.
  4. Anonymous 20/11/06 10:56
    he'll flame out, just like all the other kooks who pander to the religious right wing of the GOP. just ask karen "i'll marry and run for whatever gets me somewhere" floyd and that big flake michale lettes.
  5. Anonymous 20/11/06 13:21
    No wonder Mit reminds me of Greg Hart...
  6. Anonymous 20/11/06 20:25
    Mitt “Funny Undies” Romney has ZERO chance in the Republican presidential primary. Nominees will be John McCain for the GOP and Hillary Clinton for the Dems. Why? Because 1) the GOP has no one else who could possibly get elected in the general election, and 2) Hillary has already locked up the Dem’s money flow by getting early commitments from most of the major Democrat financial sources.

    Like it or not, that’s how it is. And you heard it here first.
  7. Anonymous 20/11/06 20:32
    We are talking about the state that elected Michael Dukakis, John Kerry, and Edward Kennedy. I think it is remarkable that Romney won his race and then cut the heck out of the budget, held the line on taxes, and pushed for a decrease once he settled a $3 billion dollar deficit.

    To anon #2, I would say that McCain has done everything possible to work against the Republican majority in the Senate, to get press accolades. That will count for far more than spreading the cash around at election time.
  8. Earl Capps 20/11/06 21:45
    to the last anon - this posting was intended to judge his ability to lead the republican party, based upon his record in massachusetts.

    considering the drubbing that the GOP took a couple of weeks ago, i think republicans should be willing to ask those who want to lead if they can actually do so.

    his work as a "tough times" leader with the salt lake city olympics and the big dig are noteworthy, and i'm sure we'll hear all about them in the upcoming year or so.

    but i put this out there as a means to stir the discussion, to see what shakes out.

    thanks for shaking the tree.
  9. Anonymous 21/11/06 00:40
    To Anon @ 20:25,

    Get real, You are dead wrong on your assertion of McCain winning around the nation. While I agree with you that he has done much good fro the GOP he has also hurt the GOP in many ways. John McCain lost to Bush and will again loose to either Romney or Rudy.

    To anon @ 10:56

    You obviously dont' know Karen do you? She and Gordon are very pleasant people and folks like you should really get to know someone before you start making false comments on their personal life.
  10. Anonymous 21/11/06 16:20
    Certainly, McCain did lose to Bush. And how many of those who voted for Bush in the primary are now bemoaning THAT decision? Even Bush’s former in-state operatives are scurrying like roaches (or Palmetto bugs if you prefer) to get away from their role in the slandering of McCain during the SC primary.

    It doesn’t matter if you think McCain is a paradigm of GOP values or not. What matters is that he’s a stronger candidate than all these other weaklings in the field – which includes Giuliani and Romney. Hillary would crush anyone, except for McCain. And it's better to elect an imperfect Republican than the friggin Anti-Christ.
  11. Moye 21/11/06 17:28
    Go Rudy.
  12. Anonymous 22/11/06 04:19
    McCain all the way. I like his "go big" theory about Iraq. Let's get the job done, and do it by listening to the Generals and giving them what they need to get the job done.

    Those who think McCain is "Clinton lite" don't know him. The difference is night and day. Clinton will run. McCain will get the job done.

    Go McCain.
  13. SC Conservative 23/11/06 22:21
    Romney's record in Massachusetts is much better than the Boston Globe will ever be willing to admit.

    Career politician measure success in election wins and losses, leaders measure success in other terms. Romney has stood in the face of severe opposition and probably more veto overrides than any other governor in the country--ever.

    The one thing that people don't point out is that Romney has kept all 95 of his election promises--including the one that said he wouldn't change the abortion laws in Massachusetts. This was an ingenious tactic since of course he knew that any changes to the law would be towards lessening restrictions and not increasing them.

    Romney has led on economics, taxes, same-sex marriage, engery, health care, transportation and much more. All this while facing (and working with) the most liberal state legislature in the country.

    To blame Romney for the decrease in Republican political influence in Massachusetts is laughable. When the Democrats create a crisis, Massachusetts votes for Republicans to fix the problems (that's why Romney was elected in 2002). But so many of the problems were fixed under Romney that voters were able to go back to voting for their favorite liberal social issues.

    Am I biased, yes. But that doesn't mean my argument lacks merit. Mitt Romney is a leader first, and politician second. Take a look at his organizational skills, his history, his personal life, and see for yourself.
  14. Earl Capps 23/11/06 22:36
    i don't doubt he's done some good things with crisis management. he work on the SLC olympics, as well as the big dig, were top-notch performances.

    as to a governor building the GOP in an adverse environment, we have a precedent here in SC.

    when carroll campbell was elected governor, less than 20% of the legislative seats were held by republicans, and he was the only GOP statewide official (not counting the US Senate races). he worked his butt off and built the GOP across the state.

    eight years later, the election held at the end of his second term saw the GOP take a majority in the house and was closing on the senate. they also won a 6-3 majority in statewide offices, including the treasurer and attorney general, as well as holding onto the governor's mansion.

    while MA is definitely a tougher state to make similar progress, i find it hard to believe that he couldn't have made some progress on this front.

    i think that you have to be able to do something on the legislative front, or else you don't get to set your agenda, or stop the other side's agenda. while executive leadership should be the priority, i think party-building is an essential task as well.

    but that's a judgment that SC republicans need to make, based on the full range of facts presented.

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