Mitt Romney’s political career is over, but it didn’t take long for the Romney family to be a part of the political dialogue again.
Over the weekend, two Romneys were rumored as candidates for a recruiting hole in the Massachusetts Senate special election: Mitt’s wife, Ann Romney, and their eldest son, Tagg Romney. Tagg took himself out of contention Monday afternoon and Ann seems uninterested at the moment.
Indeed, this isn’t the first time that someone besides Mitt has had his or her name surface for elective office, and both of Mitt’s parents ran for high office (his father, George, was governor of Michigan and ran for president in 1968, and his mother Lenore ran for Senate in 1970). So to some extent, politics is in the family’s bloodstream.
Below, we look at which Romneys are most likely to pick up where the Mitt and George left off.
1. Tagg Romney
Mitt’s and Ann’s eldest was the most involved in his father’s campaign and, according to those close to the campaign, showed the kind of interest in the political minutiae that his four brothers have not. In fact, he has said he was one of just two people in the family, along with Ann Romney, who urged Mitt to run for president again in the run-up to 2012.
At the same time, it’s not clear that the special election in Massachusetts is really a great opportunity. While Mitt was once governor of Massachusetts, he lost the state by 23 points in 2012, and polls show a clear majority of voters there don’t view him favorably. So soon after the 2012 presidential race, Tagg would undoubtedly be tied to his father and some of Mitt’s ill-advised comments on the campaign trail.
“I think Tagg has a very even-keeled demeanor, is smart and clearly enjoys the game of politics,” said one former Romney aide. “I’d put my money on him.”
Update 5:16 p.m.: Tagg Romney has issued a statement saying he will not run in the special election.
2. Josh Romney
The other Romney son who has been rumored as a potential candidate, Josh, turned down a run for Congress in Utah in 2008 and for governor in 2010, but said in 2009 that he would consider being Utah Gov. Gary Herbert’s (R) lieutenant governor.
That didn’t happen, but there’s clearly some political interest in the Romneys’ third son, and Utah is a much better state to launch a political career than is Massachusetts. Mitt took 73 percent of the vote there in 2012 — his best state in the country. If and when Josh runs, he will immediately be formidable.
“Josh has probably come closest to actually making the jump, with his consideration of Utah lieutenant governor slot recently, and Utah remains the most favorable environment for any of the next generation,” said one operative in the Romney orbit.
Reached Tuesday, Josh declined to talk about future campaigns.
3. Ann Romney
As noted above, Ann, 63, was the only one, besides Tagg, who urged her husband to run for president before the 2012 election. That means she is interested in politics. Whether that means she could run herself is another question entirely, of course.
She was rumored as a potential Senate candidate before Tagg, but it’s not clear how serious she is. It’s really hard to see her making the jump so quickly after a rough and tumble presidential campaign. If she really caught the political bug, then maybe, but this seems like a long shot right now.
Update 2:07 p.m.: A reader points out that Lenore Romney’s Senate run came right after George’s failed presidential run — a remarkably similar set of circumstances to Ann’s potential Senate run today. Of course, Lenore lost her race.
4. Craig Romney
Romney’s youngest son, Craig, spoke at the Republican National Convention and he certainly made an impression — speaking Spanish (he did missionary work in Chile) and at one point tearing up while talking about his grandfathers’ immigration from Mexico.
Craig, 31, recently moved from New York to San Diego to work in real estate, so if he’s interested in running for office, he would likely need to build some roots in his new home area. But San Diego isn’t as liberal as a lot of urban areas, and there could be some opportunities going forward.
5. Matt Romney
Matt, the second-eldest son, also lives in San Diego and works in real estate.
He was a part of two not-so-helpful moments in the campaign — first when he made a birther joke that didn’t go over well (most of them don’t), and then in the final days of the campaign when he flew to Moscow to woo investors for his business. Neither, though, was a huge deal in the campaign.
6. Ben Romney
The Romneys’ second-youngest son still lives in Boston, where he’s a doctor. Maybe the most low-profile of the Romney boys, he didn’t seem to seek the spotlight in any way, shape or form.
Indeed, Comedy Central’s Indecision even named Ben Romney its “Person of the Year,” noting that he was the least known of the Romney boys. ”If the Romney sons had a private family yearbook, Ben would be voted ‘Most Likely to Lurk in the Background with His Hands in His Pockets,’” Comedy Central wrote.
Not exactly the profile of a future political officeholder, but you never know.