Saturday, 2:15 PM
Romney ties to Mass. to be tested in today's primary
By Eric Moskowitz, Globe Staff
Massachusetts voters picked Mitt Romney for governor in 2002. But will they stick with him today in the state's Republican presidential primary?
Some voters interviewed outside the polls said they were happy to vote again for Romney. But some former supporters said they were dissatisfied with his term as governor and were looking elsewhere.
"I think that he has a firm grasp on economic issues -- the economy and creating jobs," said Charles Johnston, a 47-year-old Republican voter who supported Romney for governor in 2002 and voted for him again.
But Johnston, an Ashland resident who works in the financial industry, was in the minority in an informal survey by the Globe of nearly 50 voters in three communities -- Ashland, Medway, and Westwood -- where Romney cleaned up in 2002, when voters in Boston's western suburbs and along Interstate 495 supported him in much greater numbers than they had shown for previous Republican candidates.
Of 21 who said they voted in the Republican primary today, 16 chose John McCain and five Romney. On the Democratic side, a handful of Democrats and unenrolled voters who picked Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama said they had voted for Romney in 2002.
The sample, although unscientific, suggests that some in suburban communities that favored Romney over Democrat Shannon O'Brien -- when voters responded to his message as a Beacon Hill outsider and liked his fiscal conservatism -- are looking elsewhere this year.
Some said they were specifically casting an "anti-Mitt Romney vote." Others said they were drawn to McCain or a Democrat by the strength of their new candidate.
Fred Paulette, 67, a registered Democrat who has sometimes voted for Republicans, voted for Romney in 2002, but this year picked Clinton.
"My opinion of him is the day he took the governor's office he clearly had the presidency in mind. He wasn't a dedicated governor," said Paulette, a retired police officer.
Mike Beaumont, an insurance broker and former Westwood selectman, voted for McCain, saying he disliked Romney's style.
He's "kind of a plastic guy," said Beaumont, a 57-year-old independent who sat out the 2002 gubernatorial vote because he didn't care for Romney or O'Brien. "Really doesn't keep in touch with the common folk, if you will."
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