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Swift drops out of governor's race
Romney will announce his candidacy
By John McElhenny, Associated Press, 03/19/02
BOSTON -- Acting Gov. Jane Swift dropped out of the governor's race Tuesday, saying an expected Republican primary challenge from wealthy Salt Lake City Winter Olympics chief Mitt Romney would take too much time away from her family.
Swift, plagued by sagging popularity and political and personal controversies, said she decided not to take on the simultaneous task of being a mother of three, running for election and governing during a budget crunch.
"Having said early on the time with family was non-negotiable, something had to give," Swift said, fighting back tears at a noon news conference at the Statehouse. She plans to serve out her term until the end of the year.
Her withdrawal came hours before Romney was expected to announce his candidacy. Swift said she had spoken with Romney and pledged her support.
The most recent poll showed Romney, whose only political experience is an unsuccessful challenge to Democratic Sen. Edward Kennedy in 1994, leading Swift 75 percent to 12 percent.
Swift, 37, became Massachusetts' first female chief executive, and the nation's youngest, in April, succeeding Paul Cellucci when he became ambassador to Canada. She was the first governor in the nation's history to give birth in office when she had twin girls in May. She also has a 3-year-old daughter.
Swift said she reached the decision to drop out within the past day.
"There isn't a working parent in America that hasn't faced it -- when the demands of the two tasks that you take on both increase substantially, something has to give," she said.
Swift said she did not know what she planned to do next, but told reporters, "You guys keep telling me I'm young."
"Serving as governor of this great commonwealth has been an honor and a privilege and one for which I'll always be grateful," Swift said, her voice trembling.
Up until recently, she had said she was undaunted by a challenge from Romney, 55.
Late last month, after a Republican activist had tried unsuccessfully to get her a job in the Bush administration to ease her out of the governor's race, Swift told reporters: "I guess I should be accustomed to powerful men trying to tell me that they know better than I do what it is I should be doing."
Romney was to meet supporters later Tuesday and then make public his decision to run, according to a friend of Romney's who spoke on condition of anonymity.
"He's running," said the friend, who has talked to Romney repeatedly in recent days.
The birth of Swift's twins produced favorable national publicity and a bounce in the polls. But when she returned to work at the end of June, she continued to find herself with little political capital and a Statehouse dominated by Democrats.
That made tough challenges even tougher: a worsening budget crunch, calls for added security measures after Sept. 11, and a controversial decision not to commute the sentence of a convicted child molester.
Earlier, as lieutenant governor, the state Ethics Commission ruled she had created an appearance of impropriety by allowing aides to baby-sit for her older daughter and fined her $1,250.
More recently, she was sued by two members of the Turnpike Authority board whom she fired after they voted to delay toll hikes.
Romney has been riding a wave of popularity since successfully leading the Winter Olympics. A longtime Massachusetts resident who graduated from Brigham Young University in Utah and sent his children there, Romney graduated from Harvard Business School and went to work in Boston at Bain & Co., where he rose to chairman.
In 1984, he co-founded Bain Capital, a venture capital company. He has been active in Belmont's Mormon community, which constructed a 70,000-square-foot temple in 2000.
The five Democrats running for governor are: Senate president Thomas Birmingham, former Labor Secretary Robert Reich, state Treasurer Shannon O'Brien, former state Sen. Warren Tolman and Steve Grossman, a former national Democratic Committee chairman.
© Copyright 2002 Boston Globe Electronic Publishing Inc.