Mitt Romney returned to Massachusetts this week a conquering hero of sorts, coming off the successful Olympics he organized in Utah. Romney, who, as The Prowler reported last week, expressed interest to President Bush about re-entering the political arena when the two were together in Salt Lake, is looking at a possible run either for the Senate in Utah or for governor in Massachusetts.
In 1994, Romney's bid for a Senate seat from Massachusetts ended in defeat at the hand of Ted Kennedy. That said, the campaign was one of Kennedy's roughest (and it showed Ted quite able to play the anti-Mormon bigot). Romney has high name recognition in the state, and its Republican Party is looking for a way to dump acting governor Jane Swift, whose popularity numbers often slip into the teens. Romney was in Boston for a Staples corporate board meeting, and according to a Massachusetts Republican Party contributor, met privately with a number of his supporters from the 1994 campaign. "He was asking whether we'd support his run for governor," says the donor. "He doesn't want to come in here as a perceived Johnny Come Lately."
But Romney told donors that he has also been speaking to the White House, and senior White House adviser Karl Rove, about his political future. "It sounded like the White House was interested in getting Mitt in and Swift out without a big nomination battle," says the donor. "But Swift isn't the type to go quietly, even if the White House were to give her some nice exit strategies." Regardless, Romney clearly is high on the list of people the Bush White House wants to work with.
THE WHIP GETS CRACKING
House Democrats expect that current minority leader Dick Gephardt will resign from the leadership post if his party fails, as expected, to win back the House from Republicans. Gephardt would then focus all of his energies on a presidential bid.
Already Texas Rep. Martin Frost has announced his intention to succeed Gephardt should he step down. Although Democratic Whip Nancy Pelosi has been coy about going public with her plans, the California congresswoman has told several staffers in Washington and back home that she intends to challenge Frost for the leadership post.
Frost operatives have wasted no time attacking Pelosi. Several associates of Frost on the Democratic leadership team say Frost backers leaked information about contributions Pelosi made to Democratic colleagues. In the most controversial, she gave $10,000 from her leadership PAC to Rep. Lynn Rivers, who is running against warhorse Rep. John Dingell for a newly redistricted Michigan seat. Pelosi stands to win big if Dingell loses: Her longtime friend and political ally Henry Waxman would be the new ranking member on the Commerce Committee.
"Waxman would do just about anything for Nancy," says a Democratic House member. "And she would do the same for him. There were other ways Nancy could have helped Rivers. The fact she did it so directly had to be a message to Dingell on behalf of Waxman."
New York Republican Rep. Peter King, who opposed his colleagues' efforts to impeach then President Bill Clinton, obviously had bigger plans for Bubba: to be Watson to his Holmes. In May Roberts Rhinehart Publishing is releasing a novel by King about a fictitious congressman who teams up with Clinton to solve the ugly murder of an IRA partisan living on Long Island.
"Congressman Pete King gives the reader unprecedented insights into the unforgiving corridors of power on Capitol Hill," former Sen. Alfonse D'Amato plugs away in a jacket blurb. But famed columnist Jimmy Breslin offers an even more inspiring take: "Peter King gives us a sophisticated look at local, national and international politics, and into grisly murders..." Now if only Gerry Adams would add a sweet word.