Romney For Senate

US News blogger Peter Roff speculates that Mitt Romney will run for the late Ted Kennedy’s 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.

If he did, Romney would then have a platform to actually introduce legislation modeled on the proposals he put forward as a presidential candidate
in 2008 and planned to put forward in 2012. No guesswork. No empty rhetoric. Real ideas, on the Senate floor, that could be evaluated, debated, and perhaps even voted on.

From the Senate floor, Romney could show his fellow Republicans, and the country, just what kind of president he would be. How he would approach national problems. As an added political benefit, it would give him the opportunity to establish true conservative bona fides allowing him to finally overcome the suspicions many conservatives in the GOP’s primary electorate still harbor about him. Rather than tie him down, Romney could actually use the Senate seat to lock up the GOP nomination in 2012.

Two minor problems with this: Romney would have to get elected. And he’d have to instantly be an effective senator.

Romney was governor of Massachusetts, a very advantageous platform from which to run for president. Not only did it allow him to demonstrate decisive, executive leadership — as opposed to those pesky compromise votes that tend to embarrass senators running for president — but it allowed him to claim that he was a uniter, able to get things done as a Republican in a highly Democratic state. So, why did he give it up? Because he was unlikely to win re-election. Why would he suddenly be more popular in a state even less receptive to a Republican while wallowing in a sea of Kennedy emotion?

Were Romney to get elected despite this obstacle, he’d have about five minutes to start passing legislation for it to do him any good in a presidential campaign that will start in earnest next February. If it hasn’t started already. He’d have to do this as the Senate’s most junior member in a body where seniority is everything. And as a Republican in a body where the Democrats have 59 percent of the votes.

UPDATE: Alex Massie, Steve Benen, and Nate Silver all agree this is a really bad idea.  So does Steve M., who notes that Romney doesn’t even qualify for Massachusetts residency at the moment.

Implicit in all their arguments is a fundamental point I failed to make in the original post: The positions one has to take to get elected to statewide office in Massachusetts are diametrically opposed to those one has to take to win the Republican presidential nomination.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2010, Campaign 2012, , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. alkali says:

    In addition, note that the first ad for the Democratic candidate would be called “Hey, citizens of Massachusetts: Mitt Romney hates you,” and it would feature clips from the Mittster on the campaign trail in ’07-’08 explaining what jackasses the citizens of Massachusetts are. Notwithstanding ruthless editing, the ad would still be 28 minutes long.

  2. Furhead says:

    If he runs for Senate, he’s going to be asked repeatedly if he’s going to actually work, or start campaigning for President immediately. So then he is forced to either lie, or not run for President.

    Many have gotten away with this lie (most recent example Obama), but all of them that I can think of actually got a year or two of work in before running for President.

  3. Ed, Watertown MA says:

    Alkali –

    Exactly! Romney’s own words trashing Massachusetts to win the support of the GOP rightwing 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.

  4. […] spend that much time in the Senate if he really was running for the 2012 GOP nomination. Moreover, as James Joyner points out, he’d have no seniority and would be one Republican voice in a Senate with 59 […]

  5. Just curious, but would those who think this is a fabulously bad idea ever actually vote for Romney?

  6. Alex Knapp says:

    The positions one has to take to get elected to statewide office in Massachusetts are diametrically opposed to those one has to take to win the Republican presidential nomination.

    Yeah, and it sure would be unlikely for Mitt Romney to abruptly change positions in the hopes of political gain…

  7. James Joyner says:

    Yeah, and it sure would be unlikely for Mitt Romney to abruptly change positions in the hopes of political gain…

    Ah, but here it would be politically inconvenient to do so, presuming his goal is the presidency.

  8. Ed, Watertown MA says:

    No, I wouldn’t vote for him and since his approval ratings when he left office in 2006 were at 35%, not a lot of other Mass residents would either. He won in 2002 against a horrendously bad candidate in Shannon O’Brien, governed in a mediocre manner then left office bashing his constituents. Not exactly someone who develops and deserves loyalty.

  9. anjin-san says:

    The same Mitt who was ripping his state when he was running for President?

  10. Jean Powers says:

    Romney?Your kidding right?As a Mass. resident we couldn’t wait to get rid of him as Governor.He left the state deep in debt and gave a boondoggle to insurance companies.He was a disaster.

  11. sam says:

    @JJ

    The positions one has to take to get elected to statewide office in Massachusetts are diametrically opposed to those one has to take to win the Republican presidential nomination.

    I think Multiple-Choice Mitt was fully aware of this slight drawback….

  12. McGehee says:

    Oh, good lord.

    I for one have never in my life willingly voted for a sitting Senator for president, and Mitt Romney won’t be the first.

    Why do people continue to think that being in the Senate even qualifies someone for the presidency, let alone puts them at an advantage? The way I see it, being in the Senate qualifies a person for one thing and one thing only: a lifetime of merciless derision.

  13. […] Romney For Senate (outsidethebeltway.com) […]