Tuesday, March 19, 2002

Breaking news from Boston: woebegone governor Jane Swift announced earlier today that she has withdrawn from the gubernatorial race, in a development which shocked everyone involved, not least her own campaign staff, who were still trying to figure out a debate schedule with Swift's not-yet-announced Republican challenger, Mitt Romney (who formally entered the race a few hours after Swift bowed out). A poll released Sunday showed Romney with 75 percent support to Swift's 12, numbers which, as local commentator Jon Keller noted, are ordinarily reserved for politicians who are caught strangling newborn puppies on live TV.

Another guy who was presumably surprised by the withdrawal of Swift was her mentor, former governor Bill Weld, who made the front page of the Boston Globe this morning endorsing her reelection bid, with particular praise for her "tough and relentless campaign skills".

Swift had put those skills in full effect the previous Friday, at the first of several St. Patrick's day roasts that are an important political tradition around here. It's traditional for even non-Irish politicians to put on a touch of the green; vertically challenged Democrat Robert Reich promised to be the State's first leprechaun governor (it's as believable as any other promise from Reich). As for Swift ("Williams could tell that this was one of those deals where a tall man was called Shorty, or a fat man Slim" --- Terry Bisson, Talking Man), she regaled the crowd with the Patty O'Furniture joke.

Swift's withdrawal leaves the Republican nomination to Romney. Political commentators around here are already showing signs of nostalgia (in the Boston Herald, Margery Eagan is already complaining that Romney is too perfect), but their fears are exaggerated. There is no danger that any local political humorist will need to work at writing original material, anytime soon.


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