The next Mitt Romney

Unlike Romney, Baker favors gay marriage. He often brings up his gay brother when he talks about his support for gay rights. In a debate, he drew applause after challenging a long-shot candidate who suggested homosexuality was a “sexual perversion.” The RealClearPolitics polling average gives him a 4.2 percentage point lead over Democratic nominee Martha Coakley, so Baker’s strategy may be working. It doesn’t hurt that Coakley is a notoriously ineffective campaigner. It also doesn’t hurt that if you squint, Baker looks a tiny bit like Robert Redford.

Then there’s Allan Fung, the Republican running for governor in Rhode Island. His contest has drawn far less national attention than Baker’s, but RCP rates it a toss-up. RCP’s David Byler explains that the state’s sizable population of independent voters is open to Republicans’ overtures. On top of that, Rhode Island is one of the most Catholic states in America, and Gina Raimondo, Fung’s Democratic opponent, drew biting criticism from the bishop of Providence after she promised to repeal the state’s partial-birth abortion ban. Fung’s stance on abortion, in contrast, is right out of the Romney 2002 playbook: pro-choice, but not too pro-choice. Naturally, Romney visited Little Rhody to endorse him earlier this month. Fung is having a tougher time than Baker, but a win wouldn’t be totally shocking, especially given that Rhode Island hasn’t elected a Democratic governor since 1990.

The Connecticut governor’s race, which could also produce a Romney-type, is as close as humanly possible; RCP gives Republican Tom Foley a whopping 0.5 percentage point lead in their polling average over incumbent Democratic Gov. Dannel Malloy. Like Romney, Foley has a venture capital background and a striking pair of sideburns. This race is a rematch, as Foley lost to Malloy by less than one point in the 2010 race for governor. Foley is running on a technocratic platform that includes lowering the sales tax, dialing back regulations, and “improved IT to make government more productive.” One could convincingly argue that Tom Foley is a platonic archetype of Mitt Romney and that he is more like Mitt Romney than Mitt Romney is like himself.