The last time Massachusetts elected a Republican to a major statewide office was 2002, when an investment banker named Mitt Romney captured the statehouse. But now, on the eve of a potential upset by another Republican of the Senate seat held by the iconic liberal Ted Kennedy for 48 years, Romney is nowhere to be found.
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And Coakley has proved herself a tone-deaf candidate. She offended the entire Red Sox Nation by calling Curt Schilling a Yankees fan and scoffed at Brown for wanting to bring back the Bush-Cheney tax cuts. As a result, despite a last-minute personal appearance by President Obama, some are now calling Brown "The Great Right Hope."
But for all the attention focused on Massachusetts in the run-up to Tuesday's election, Romney is conspicuously absent. And as Politico pointed out, his MIA status could say a lot about his presidential aspirations.
“Mitt Romney is an unpopular former governor," said Jeffrey Berry, a Tufts University political scientist. "He hasn’t really been a part of Massachusetts political culture since he left office. I think people thought he ran for office merely to run for president.”
Early on, Romney hosted several fundraisers for Brown and sent an e-mail appeal for supporters to make calls. But lately, as Republican boldface names like former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former Gov. William Weld have stumped for Brown, Romney has been on the sidelines.
Still, he has a prediction. "Massachusetts is not as monolithic as people think," he said recently, noting the state voted for Ronald Reagan -- twice.
-- Johanna Neuman