Wizbang Breaking News: Romney won't run for re-election as MA governor

Mitt Romney, in the third year of his four-year term as Massachusetts governor, tonight announced that he will not be running for re-election next November. He will leave office in January of 2007, and resume his life as a private citizen.

So, what the heck does this have to do with anyone outside Massachusetts?

Romney has been quietly “testing the waters,” in his own words, for a possible Presidential run in 2008. But Romney, a very devout Mormon, is also very much a man of his word. He promised the people of Massachusetts that he would not seek another office while governor, and would serve out whatever term he was serving. Had he run for re-election next year, he would have excluded himself from the 2008 presidential race. The ghost of Michael Dukakis and his 1988 campaign, conducted around his duties as governor, still looms large — as well as John Kerry’d dismal attendance in the Senate over the 2003 and 2004 sessions.

By bowing out early, Romney is also doing a service to the Massachusetts Republican party — they now have plenty of time to line up potential successors. Romney’s current lieutenant governor, Kerry Murphy Healey, is still regarded as a bit of a lightweight (her critics call her “Muffy”), but she’s trying to establish some credentials. Another potential candidate is Christy Myhos, the former renegade Massachusetts Turnpike Authority Commissioner who was essential in blowing the whistle on the huge cost overruns and other screwups on the Big Dig.

For about a decade, Massachusetts has had Republican governors, who all have had to deal with Democratic-dominated legislatures to various degrees (I think Romney has it worst). It’s been the sole sign of sanity in the Bay State for some time now. There are a couple of prominent Democrats lining up, but despite the overwhelming advantage the Democrats hold in the state, the smart money is on a competent Republican to beat pretty much any Democrat that can win the party’s support.

I think Mitt Romney is the first Republican to openly talk about running, and actually take a step or two towards a campaign. Let the games begin!

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