Regardless of what happens in Congress, the next election cycle might well see a shift in governorships. Such shifts often presage more fundamental political change. California and New York, pivotal states in any presidential contest, are up for grabs. And Florida’s governor, Bush’s older brother, Jeb, must step down next election. So there is reason to hope. Democrats in the governorships of those states could help Democrats get elected to Congress and perhaps even to the White House.

The top dog of what passes for the Massachusetts Republican Party, Governor Mitt Romney, has his eyes trained on the White House. His decision not to run for re-election at least holds out the promise that the Republicans will forfeit their 12-year stranglehold on the Commonwealth’s highest office. But if Attorney General Thomas Reilly’s pathetic performance in a recent Worcester County teenage drunk-driving case is any indication, the putative Democratic front-runner is not yet ready for prime time. We urge insurgent Democrat Deval Patrick to step up the juice: show the public what he’s made of, what he promises. If he’s incapable of rising to the challenge, then perhaps one of our congressmen — Stephen Lynch, Michael Capuano, or Martin Meehan — will exhibit the right stuff and declare.

Democrats who think that Romney’s heir, Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey, can be bested in a walk are sadly mistaken. If the drunk-driving case has shown anything, it’s that Healey will shed her pumps-and-pearls persona when the occasion calls for it and jump into the political mud for a strenuous wrestle. Her performance may have been pure opportunism, but Reilly provided the opportunity.

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