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Romney's Run for Governor Hits a Sour Note

April 06, 2002|From Associated Press

NEWTON, Mass. — Republican Mitt Romney, who entered the race for governor last month in a blaze of Salt Lake City Olympic glory, is facing a GOP backlash heading into the party's convention this weekend.

Some Republicans are angry and disappointed that Romney chose a running mate, state party chairwoman Kerry Murphy Healey, instead of letting convention delegates decide, as he had pledged to do.

"We don't crown kings!" said John Wragg, a delegate who supports Healey's opponent, businessman James Rappaport. "It's not 'One person chooses.' The people choose. That's what democracy is all about."

Rappaport, for his part, called Romney's choice of Healey "a cold, political calculation" that a woman would help him on the ticket.

Some Rappaport supporters were so incensed that they proposed during a conference call this week to disrupt the convention by holding a candlelight vigil outside Romney's reception, by abstaining from the vote to endorse Romney or by walking out of the convention altogether.

Just a few weeks ago, support for Romney's then-undeclared candidacy seemed at a fever pitch. A March 14 poll showed that three-quarters of Republicans favored the chief organizer of the 2002 Winter Olympics over GOP acting Gov. Jane Swift. Five days later, Swift tearfully quit.

Romney, 55, said he is not surprised at the criticism.

"I think my high-water mark in popularity was the day I announced," said Romney. "I expect a decline until election day, when I hope it will be at least a point or two above my opponents."

Romney said the choice of Healey, a 41-year-old professor and criminal justice expert, gives balance to the Republican ticket.

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