Romney’s gubernatorial legacy questioned


BOSTON, Mass. — Although Obama won Massachusetts last night by 23 percentage points as of press time, Gov. Mitt Romney’s headquarters — and the beginnings of his political career — are in Boston.

Several Boston residents interviewed on Election Day recalled their largely lukewarm feelings about Romney, who served as the state’s governor from 2003 to 2007. While some citizens said they supported Romney during his gubernatorial campaign, they have since come to identify less with him due to a perceived shift to the right during his presidential campaign.

On the steps of Quincy Market, 25-year-old Lisa Gurin predicted Obama’s win in Massachusetts. Romney finished his term as governor with a 34 percent approval rating, Gurin said, and his popularity among Bostonians has not improved since the end of his term.

North-end resident John Savaggio, still a student when Romney was elected governor, said his school lost and lacked funding largely due to Romney’s policies. Karen Tokos, a public school teacher at the time, agreed, saying that Romney cut both funding and staffing at her school.

But one downtown businessman voting Tuesday night at Tufts said that Romney left his governorship after balancing the budget, lowering taxes, reaching across the aisles and improving schools.

“I think he did everything he said he would do,” he added. “The state was left in a good condition.”

Additionally, five Massachusetts residents interviewed remembered Romney’s work on health care in a positive light.

Savaggio said that Romney’s unpopularity during his term as governor may have resulted from him being “closed off and inaccessible.” Downtown resident Donna Wolff said she recalls Romney spending much of his term as governor on his presidential campaign.

“My sister said to me, ‘He was governor? I don’t even remember him,’” Wolff said. “He was out of the state as much as he was in it.”

Romney took many trips out-of-state and was largely absent, said Jose Alvarez, who has lived in Boston for over 30 years. Alvarez said he thinks Romney primarily hoped to improve his personal career rather than the lives of Massachusetts’ citizens due to these frequent out-of-town trips.

Gurin said part of her persisting dissatisfaction with Romney stems from what she perceives as Romney’s shifting positions since the start of his presidential campaign, particularly on issues related to women’s rights. Savaggio agreed, saying that he “seems to never take a specific point of view on anything.”

“When he was governor, he identified with people better — he was surrounded by Democrats and more liberal,” Gurin said. “Now, he’s in a bubble of Republicans.”

John McCarrick said he still remembers casting his vote for Romney that year. Romney’s gubernatorial campaign began much like his presidential campaign — he was a “businessman coming in to balance the Commonwealth deficit,” McCarrick said.

While Romney has largely advocated for traditionally conservative low-tax policies, Alvarez said that beginning around his second term, the years of Romeny’s governorship were “tax-achusetts.”

“When he was governor, this was the highest tax-paying state in the union,” Alvarez said, adding that he noticed price increases even on candy bars at the store.

Romney received his B.A. from Brigham Young University in 1971 and his M.B.A. and J.D. from Harvard University in 1975.

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