Why do only 3 out 22 Republican governors support Romney?—yet more evidence of Romney’s incompetence and lack of political skill
[…] “As chairman of the Republican Governors Association in 2006, Mitt Romney crisscrossed the country to elect GOP governors and broke the group’s fundraising record by hauling in $20 million,” writes Charles Mahtesian in a politico.com article titled Most GOP govs shun Romney
Yet just two of the 16 governors he worked to elect then are supporting his presidential bid.
In fact, just three of the nation’s 22 Republican governors have endorsed him.
There are plenty of reasons that might explain the former Massachusetts governor’s surprisingly weak support among his former colleagues. But one of them stands out: He appears to have inadvertently alienated a good many of his fellow governors as RGA chairman.
“Right or wrong, the general impression was that he spent way too much time on himself and building his presidential organization,” said a top Republican strategist who has worked closely with the RGA in recent years. “I don’t think anyone ever questioned Romney’s commitment to the organization or the work he put in. They questioned his goals or his motives. Was it to elect Republican governors, or to tee up his presidential campaign?”
A campaign manager for an unsuccessful 2006 Republican gubernatorial campaign echoed the sentiments. “We definitely got the vibe from the staff that our state was never a national player when it came to the strategy that the RGA was putting together,” he said. “Everything they were telling me was about Michigan. They were dumping everything into Michigan.”
For Romney, his inability to win over the governors he worked closest with has proven costly. On the eve of Tuesday’s crucial primary in Florida, Gov. Charlie Crist announced his support for John McCain — despite the fact that Romney, as chairman of the RGA, had greenlighted a $1 million check to Crist’s campaign in 2006.
McCain won Florida by 36 percent to 31 percent over Romney. And the exit polls found that 42 percent of the voters said the popular governor’s endorsement was very important or somewhat important.
On Thursday, two more big-state governors who were on the 2006 ballot, Arnold Schwarzenegger of California and Rick Perry of Texas, lined up behind McCain. Schwarzenegger’s decision came just days before California Republicans vote in this Tuesday’s primary. Perry switched to McCain after his first endorsed candidate, Rudy Giuliani, ended his campaign.
Altogether, six of the 16 Republican governors elected or reelected in 2006 are backing McCain. South Dakota’s Michael Rounds is supporting Mike Huckabee. Nebraska’s David Heineman and Rhode Island’s Donald Carcieri are behind Romney. But the rest of the class is sitting it out, having declined to endorse anyone.
One reason, said a Republican consultant familiar with the thinking behind some of the governors’ decisions, is that Romney rubbed some governors the wrong way during his tenure at the RGA.
“Everything seemed to have strings attached to it,” the consultant said. “If they were going to make a donation, they wanted a quid pro quo like an endorsement or a donor list or a volunteer program. There’s no interest like self-interest in politics. So when [governors] think their political lives are in a do-or-die situation, that’s not the time to offer help with strings attached” […]
Ed Kilgore of the Democratic Strategist comments on Romney’s failure to recruit support from Republican governors:
[…] Mitt has a total of three governors on his endorsement list, none of them exactly household names: Heineman of NE, Carcieri of RI, and Blunt of MO (who’s retiring this year). McCain has six, including such biggies as Ah-nold of CA, Crist of FL, and Perry of TX. True, the other former governor in the race, Mike Huckabee, has just one: Rounds of SD. But given Mitt’s money, organization, and recently acquired conservative-movement street cred, his poor standing among governors is surprising. Hell, he hasn’t even been the beneficiary of the obligatory David Broder column about the superior qualifications of governors for the White House […]
[…] As Barack Obama so aptly said of Romney during last week’s Democratic presidential debate, for a guy with such a rep as an entrepreneurial whiz, Mitt’s had an exceptionally lousy return-on-investment rate for the money and preparation he’s devoted to this campaign (though not as lousy as Rudy Giuliani, who spent $50 million to win exactly one delegate). His proselytizing work, financial and otherwise, among Republican govenors is another case in point […]