With Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney announcing he would not seek re-election this year (and all but declaring for the Republican nomination for President in ’08), the Bay State GOP has taken an unusual turn. At first, Lt. Gov. Kerry Murphy Healey and convenience store heir Christy Mihos — both considered moderate-to-liberal GOPers — were headed for a clash at the state party convention April 29. But two weeks ago, 56-year-old multimillionaire Mihos stunned pundits and pols by announcing his exit from the Republican Party to run for governor as an independent. His exodus leaves Healey, who had the unofficial blessing of Romney, as the sure Republican nominee.
Last week, Healy announced her surprise choice of Worcester County District Attorney Reed Hillman as her lieutenant governor running mate. The selection of former state police colonel Hillman was a surprise because, on virtually every issue, he is a conservative. As veteran political consultant Holly Robichaud (who quarterbacked Hillman’s first race for district attorney) told me: “By Massachusetts standards, Reed is a solid conservative — which means he is conservative on everything except abortion.”
Among Democrats, the race appears a dead heat between State Atty. Gen. Tom Reilly and lawyer DeVal Patrick, who headed the civil rights division of the Justice Department under Bill Clinton. Should Patrick be elected, he would be the first black to hold statewide office in Massachusetts since Republican Sen. (1966-72) Edward Brooke.