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Friday, February 15, 2008

The governor of three states?

By Dennis Byrne
Political Mavens

Mitt Romney should run for governor of Michigan in 2010.

Yeah sure, I, too, thought it was way out when a friend suggested it at lunch a few days ago, but after listening to his reasons and the more I thought about it, the more intriguing and rational it sounds. Besides, it would be great fun.

The deadly serious suggestion came from John Tillman, chairman of the Illinois Policy Institute, a free-market and liberty-based think tank. He parried every objection I could think of, and some that I hadn’t.

Tillman—a dyed-in-the-wool conservative and speaking for himself—explained it would be a perfect opportunity for Romney to show that he could turn around not one, but two states. Using free-market and liberty-based principles to successfully govern, Tillman said, he could cement his conservative credentials. And set himself up for a run for the White House if the presumptive GOP nominee, John McCain, should lose.

Certainly, he couldn’t do worse than the current Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm. Just this yesterday, the tax and spend governor unveiled a proposed $44.8-billion budget that’s almost 3 percent higher than this year’s. She’s bragging that she can do it without a tax or fee increase, but it should be noted that she’s getting plenty of help from a big hike last year in the state income tax and from a surcharge on the state’s main business tax. It’s expected to bring in an extra $1.54 billion this year.

Tillman is a Michigan native who is saddened by how liberal policies have driven away business from a rust-belt state already hard-hit by a recession. He figures that voters are ready for a change (Granholm is prevented by the state’s term limit law from running for a third term, so Romney would have to face someone else.) Trying to be a governor of a second state shouldn’t be a problem with voters, since Romney was born in Michigan and he’s returning to the state he loves to straighten things out. That should inoculate him against carpet-bagging charges, especially when voters already have shown that they are perfectly willing to elect someone who was born out of the country—Canadian native Granholm.

A bigger hitch, however, might be the tired old charge that he’s using the governorship as a stepping-stone to be president. Voters don’t like it when someone runs for an office expressly to position himself for a run at a higher office. For some reason, just the perception can kill a candidacy. I’ve never minded it though; in business, it’s not held against you if on your way to becoming a vice president you have bigger things, such as CEO, in mind.

Go for it, Mitt.

This post also appears on PoliticalMavens

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