Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Home State turf wars

(from Hotline)

Hey! That's MY Home State

The back-and-forth eye-poking between Sen. John McCain and Ex-MA Gov. Mitt Romney over who can accumulate the most endorsements from the other's home state strikes us as a little pissy.

You can blame the apostates on the vagaries of state politics.

McCain remains popular with rank-and-file Republicans in Arizona, but a sizable portion of the party elite -- state legislators, county chairs, donors – find him, well, demonic, almost. With a tiny majority, they managed to elect RNC member / McCain critic Randy Pullen as state chair. (The entire staff of the party promptly resigned in protest). The fissures go way back and have a lot to do with sharing the spoils of state party power.

In Massachusetts, Romney's problems with some Republicans have nothing to do with Mitt Romney, per se. Romney's present circle of advisers worked for the imperious but whip-smart ex-state treasurer Joe Malone. Malone often butted heads with with ex-Gov. L. Paul Cellucci, who eventually beat him in a ’98 gubernatorial primary. Malone also tangled at various times with GOP governors William Weld and Jane Swift. The factions don't get along, and they've used the canvass of state party politics to skirmish for years. (The Boston Phoenix has plenty more background.)

In 2004, Romney, frustrated that conservative Democrats and liberal Republicans were stymieing his government reform initiatives, spent his own money to recruit and elect Romney-ite Republicans to the state legislature. Some lost in the primary, and Democrats wound up gaining seats overall. The state party elite never really embraced Romney’s choice for lieutenant governor, Kerry Murphy Healy, and, their support for her subsequent gubernatorial bid was thin. Luckily for Romney, the newly elected state chair in Massachusetts -- ex-Rep. Peter Torkildsen-- is a fan. (He's also moderately pro-choice -- sssh.) One sign that Romney’s charm was able to heal some old wounds; Weld, never of fan of Malone’s, warmed to Romney, and is now raising money for him.

One other presidential candidate who might have trouble with members of his home state party: Ex-Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-AR). Huckabee was an insurgent, didn’t have a political pedigree, tussled frequently with legislative leaders of his own party, who pointedly did not embrace his wife's secretary of state candidacy. (The Arkansas Times’ Warwick Sabin knows as much about this as anyone ) .

And just yesterday, the chairman of the New York State GOP, Joseph Mondello, was asked about whether he’s supporting ex-NYC mayor Rudy Giuliani’s presidential bid. “If I were to do that, it would be somewhat embarrassing. Oh, my options are open. I can do whatever -- what I have to do. I want to do the right thing for New York and the right thing for the state and for the country.”

The Democrats seem to have it pretty good. In Illinois, House Speaker Mike Madigan sees no moral question in proposing to move the state's primary date up to help Sen. Barack Obama. It's hard to imagine a New York Democratic leader who won't support Sen. Hillary Clinton, although a good number of Democratic fundraisers are gravitating toward Obama

No comments: