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Going to Carolina

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Now that New Hampshire is one for the history books, it’s time to see how that Nikki Haley endorsement pays off for Mitt Romney.

On paper, Haley is just the sort of governor whose backing any Republican presidential candidate would want. She’s a Tea Party stalwart, the first female governor of South Carolina, the youngest governor in the US, and the country’s second Indian-American governor after Bobby Jindal of Louisiana.

But South Carolina and Georgia observers are already wondering how much the Haley endorsement will cost Romney should he go on to capture the nomination and the White House.

Haley comes with lots of baggage. Jim Galloway, an Atlanta Constitution political columnist, notes that Haley’s job approval rating is a pitiful 35 percent. (President Obama’s is in the low 40s but rising of late). Haley has supported a port expansion project that benefits Savannah, Georgia at the expense of Charleston, allegedly for personal political gain. Galloway speculates that South Carolina voters near the Georgia border, who are none too happy about Haley’s dealings, may take out their frustration on Romney.

The bigger question is what did Nikki want in exchange for standing behind her man Mitt?  Fitsnews.com, a widely read blog run by a South Carolina political consultant and a former spokesman for Mark Sanford, the previous governor, reported that, in exchange for her endorsement, Haley wanted a political rival excluded from Romney’s state operations. Haley “has a direct line to Boston that bypasses Romney’s South Carolina organization,” according to a Fitsnews source in the governor’s office.

She also reportedly got a future endorsement from Romney if she runs for re-election (that is, if she fails to get a post in the Romney administration first) and a promise to waive South Carolina’s participation in the  health care reforms signed into law in 2010.

That’s a lot for the Romney campaign to trade for the endorsement of a governor who is a walking catalog of political scandals and investigations, including a federal probe into her personal and campaign finances (which is an expansion of an investigation into her parents’ Sikh temple.)

Yet Haley’s support for Romney hasn’t swayed the Palmetto State conservatives in the “Anybody but Mitt” brigade who are desperately looking for The One who could halt his march to the GOP nomination. Expect the race to “get ugly.”

Romney is still favored to run off with South Carolina next Saturday, a prize many believe is more important than New Hampshire.  If he does, then the GOP race is all over but the shouting.

The Mitt camp surely hopes that Haley can keep any skeletons locked up in the closet until then.

                                                                                                                                        --GABRIELLE GURLEY

BEACON HILL

The chairs of the Legislature’s transportation committee say the MBTA is facing a major crisis, but don’t plan any action this year, the Item reports (via State House News).
 
Attorney General Martha Coakley is seeking to make the Open Meeting Law’s meaning of intent to violate more specific but watchdogs say it will create a higher bar for determining violations.

The Massachusetts Senate unanimously passes legislation requiring tougher oversight for education collaboratives serving special needs students, the Lowell Sun reports.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

The Westport town administrator says the town is facing a $2 million structural deficit that will require a Proposition 2-½ override to raise taxes and avoid service cuts and layoffs.

The Haverhill City Council reverses itself, rejecting a pension increase for city workers after the mayor vetoed it as too costly, the Eagle-Tribune reports.

Springfield plans to start enforcing an ordinance that requires municipal workers to live in the city.

Pittsfield city councilors aren’t too happy about the state tax law loophole that allows Walmart to avoid paying taxes to municipalities.

Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl Tebows in public to settle a bet with Denver’s mayor over last weekend’s game, Time reports. Is Boston Mayor Thomas Menino betting against the Mile High Messiah?

Attleboro parents mobilize against a longer school day.

ELECTION 2012

Mitt Romney rolls to victory in New Hampshire, with Ron Paul second and Jon Huntsman third, the Globe reports. Michael Kranish, coauthor of the Globe’s Romney book, reports the candidate’s strategy for winning New Hampshire was forged after his loss in 2008. The Globe’s Joan Vennochi says the “Gordon Gekko” attack on Romney didn’t work, but Scot Lehigh says it will remain an issue. The Wall Street Journal says Romney’s win will come at a steep cost, and the New York Times reports that Romney’s campaign never anticipated attacks on Romney’s resume to come from Republicans. The Times dissects New Hampshire exit polls. A RedMassGroup post calls on Republicans to stop “waiting for the next Ronald Reagan to enter the race” and support Mitt Romney. Peter Gelzinis speaks with a former Republican who lost his job in a corporate buyout, and voted for Barack Obama rather than Romney.

New Hampshire has spoken but Keller@Large wonders if anybody is really listening.

The National Review’s Jonah Goldberg says Mitt Romney has an authenticity problem.

Fred Barnes in the Weekly Standard says Romney is becoming historically inevitable, pointing out that every candidate who has won both the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary has won the party’s nomination. What he failed to point out is Barack Obama is the only one who did win both contests. And now comes the tough part: South Carolina.

Hey, remember when Newt Gingrich scolded that newscaster guy about how Republicans shouldn’t attack other Republicans?

Slate’s David Weigel notes that the anti-Obama protest vote in New Hampshire was smaller than the one George W. Bush faced in 2004.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Hostess Inc., the bane of health food advocates everywhere, is filing for Chapter 11. But Twinkie lovers need not despair: Stockpile as many packages as you want because rumor is they last 100 years.

Enterasys, an Andover company with 540 employees, is planning a move to New Hampshire to reduce its costs, the Lowell Sun reports.

Pending home sales rose for the eight straight month in December in year-over-year comparisons though still below 2010 overall because of the now-gone $8,000 tax credit. The CEO of Fannie Mae resigns, leaving more uncertainty hanging over housing.

EDUCATION

Brown University in Providence says its original Colonial-era charter exempts it from all taxes, even on commercial holdings, which may help in the school’s battle to avoid paying $4.6 million to the city. Via Chronicle of Philanthropy.

HEALTH CARE

There’s no denying it, health care spending is slowing, Governing reports.

The Daily Beast ranks the best health care cities and Boston ranks No. 5.

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

Roanoke, Virginia experiments with energy-harvesting technologies, Governing reports.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

US Marshals nab a Dominican murder suspect in Lawrence and plan to extradite him, the Eagle-Tribune reports.

 

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