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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Saturday, February 02, 2013

Burned bridges

The desperation of Massachusetts Republicans today can be summed up in one name: Ann Romney.

It's not so much that Scott Brown opted out of the special election for U.S. Senate. It's how he did it -- a tweet to the Herald and dodging cameras -- that has left the state GOP scrambling, turning their lonely eyes to a car elevator owner 3,000 miles away.

Brown has left a lot of bruised feelings within the state GOP that narrowly approved his hand-picked choice for party chair the night before. And tugging on the cape of the state's most powerful media outlet might be fun for a day, but it is not a great way to remain politically viable.

Which brings us to Ron Kaufman floating the name of the former Bay State first lady in an interview with the Herald. Brown's withdrawal shows just how bare the GOP cupboard is -- a few retreads and a couple of potential candidates who hope lightning might strike them the way it did the then-sacrificial lamb candidate in 2010.

Bill Weld. Kerry Healey. Richard Tisei. All left the ring after a knockout, with Tisei's loss to a severely damaged John Tierney the most recent.

Weld remains personally popular but the quirky redhead left the Corner Office in mid-term after losing to John Kerry then embarking on a Don Quixote-like quest for ambassador to, um, Mexico. And let's not mention the bizarre run for New York governor.

Healey may be the most viable of these options but she would have to overcome the ghosts of a failed campaign against Deval Patrick that included an out-of-bounds ad that could come back to haunt her.

Then there are the Brown wannabes -- businessman Gabriel Gomez and state Rep. Dan Winslow, who possesses the smarts and experience to make it a race or even see lightning strike.

With Democrats setting up for a knife fight, Winslow could be the sleeper if he chooses to go.

Brown may have been thinking that he could sit this one out and take on the 2013 winner -- or run for governor -- while making some money in the meantime. But the method of his withdrawal very likely ensures that the campaign finance spigot he thinks he can open at will may not be so easy to access.

And how better for party leaders to express that than by turning the GOP to a name that remains radioactive in Massachusetts and the nation.

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