Former Romney aides join opposing camps in Mass. Senate race
They rolled together through the cornfields of Iowa, the retirement villages of Florida, and the icy mountain towns of New Hampshire, hoping they might one day serve together in the White House.
But Mitt Romney’s former aides, from the most senior strategists to the young advance staff, have splintered and taken up with rival candidates in the Massachusetts Senate race, creating an intriguing subplot to the main event.
Throughout Romney’s governorship and his bids for the presidency, top advisers Eric Fehrnstrom, Beth Myers and Peter Flaherty worked closely on every level of policy and politics. The three even launched their own Boston-based consulting shop, the Shawmut Group, where they still work today.
Now, Fehrnstrom, Romney’s former spokesman, is helping to create ads for the Committee for a Better Massachusetts, a SuperPAC that is backing Republican Senate candidate Gabriel E. Gomez. On Wednesday, Myers and Flaherty announced they would join the campaign of one of Gomez’s rivals, former US Attorney Michael J. Sullivan.
Flaherty helped Romney woo evangelical Christians and social conservatives who were wary of Romney’s Mormon faith, while also advising Scott Brown’s Senate campaigns. Myers served as Romney’s campaign manager in 2008 and senior adviser to his 2012 campaign.
“Republicans, like Democrats, are not monolithic,” Fehrnstrom wrote in an email Wednesday. “I think Mitt’s decision to stay neutral in the primary was a signal to his team to go in whatever direction they wanted to go in.”
Further down Romney’s former chain of command are Charles Pearce, who is now a spokesman for the third Republican Senate candidate, Daniel B. Winslow, and Will Ritter, who is a spokesman for Gomez.
Just last year, Ritter and Pearce, both 29, were friends and allies, working together 18 hours day on Romney’s advance team, the meticulous crew that coordinated the logistics of the former governor’s events all across the country.
“We’ve shared hotel rooms in probably half the states in the union,” Pearce said Wednesday.
These days, they still meet for the occasional beer, he said, but “we don’t talk shop anymore.”
Ritter said they have a friendly competition.
“We needle each other,” he said. “I like to make fun of him for using what I consider antiquated language in comments to the press, and being on TV too much, and he has his own critiques, which I won’t repeat.”
Also supporting Gomez are Kerry Healey, who was Romney’s lieutenant governor, Bradley D. Crate, who was chief financial officer for Romney’s presidential campaign, and Gail Gitcho, who was a Romney campaign spokeswoman.
All the former Romney aides say that, after the April 30 primary, they will unite once again to help the Republican nominee try to defeat the winner of the Democratic primary between representatives Edward J. Markey and Stephen F. Lynch.
Or as, Pearce put it, “We look forward to them all working on the Winslow campaign once we get to the general election.”Michael Levenson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @mlevenson.