Go back just about exactly 10 years. Mitt Romney is fresh off successfully running the Salt Lake City Winter Olympic Games which he took over and saved after scandal hit the Organizing Committee. He’s planning a run for Governor – but where? He’s been pretty-much living in Utah the last couple of years. He attended college there and he’s a prominent figure in the Mormon faith. A Republican run for Governor of Utah would probably be an easy win – but who’d notice nationally? Who’d care? It’s a small, low-profile, extremely conservative western state dominated by the Republicans Party and the Mormon Church. Winning the Governor’s office there is low-risk, low-reward for a Mitt Romney.
What about Massachusetts? It’s been his legal residence for over 20 years and the HQ of his venture capital firm, Bain Capital, is there. Though Republicans have won the last three races for Governor – any Republican victory in this state dominated by Democrats and Independents is big news. Beyond that, you’d be in Boston, an influential east coast media center. With major academic, medical and research institutions on every corner,Boston is always in the news. Boston matters. Sorry, Utah– but Salt Lake Citydoesn’t.
Massachusetts it will be. There is a Republican in the Governor’s office — acting Governor Jane Swift – but her poll numbers are terrible and many of the party faithful would be glad to find a gracious way out of nominating her for a full term. Swift steps aside, Romney gets the Republican nomination and wins handily in November.
Mitt Romney is now Governor of the important, influential, bright Blue Democratic Party stronghold of Massachusetts. The one and only state that voted for McGovern over Nixon in 1972. The state that gave us the Kennedy’s and Michael Dukakis.
Flash forward to 2012. Mitt Romney is running for the Republican Presidential nomination after trying and losing in 2008. Opponent Newt Gingrich delights in reminding audiences that Romney is a “Massachusetts Moderate” because obviously, no real conservative of the kind Republican primary voters want to support could win in that crazy liberal corner of the northeast. Remarks Romney made in campaigns here about things like Gay Rights come back to haunt him. His support for Health Care Reform here in 2006 bedevils him. TheMassachusettslaw became a model for the national program and one opponent calls it “Obamney Care” – literally linking Mitt’s name with the President so many Republicans love to vilify.
There are still many primaries and caucuses to come and many delegates to be chosen, but in the end, if Rick Santorum or Newt Gingrich or another Republican judged to be a “true” conservative wins the GOP Presidential nomination – Mitt Romney can look back on his 2002 election as Governor of Massachusetts as a big part of the troubles that kept him out of the White House in 2012.