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.
Would he? Obama’s still near 60 percent approval in Massachusetts. Given the creepy dynasticism of the Kennedy cult, you can expect them to lend their weight to a campaign for the seat to stay Democratic (“Do it for Teddy!”). Romney’s not the same pol who won the governor’s race in 2002, either: Remember, his conversion to the pro-life cause came while he was in office so he’ll be demagogued inside the state as a cynical sell-out to the hard right today. And there’s more to lose in doing this than there is to gain. If he wins, he ends up stuck in the minority with the rest of the GOP with no way to pass legislation unless he compromises with the Democrats — not something a guy who’s already suspected of RINOism is wont to do. If he loses, it proves he’s a paper tiger who can’t even carry the moderate states to which he’s supposed to appeal as a potential Republican nominee.
Running and winning would lend him some extra gravitas and name recognition, which he’ll desperately need in a primary against Palin and media darling Huckabee. But even so … seems like a longshot with the potential for catastrophe. Let’s vote on it.