The fallout

By ADAM REILLY  |  July 12, 2006

The political fallout from Monday’s Big Dig collapse won’t be limited to Mitt Romney’s national ambitions. Earlier this month, Turnpike chairman Matt Amorello's former colleagues in the State Senate helped him out in his fight to keep control of the Turnpike board: they slipped an amendment into the state budget that would retroactively extend the term of Jordan Levy, an Amorello ally, thereby denying a seat to Romney appointee Beth Lindstrom, who’s already been sworn in. Put bluntly, this is shitty lawmaking. And it’s sure to reinforce the notion that the Democrat-dominated Massachusetts legislature is a den of hacks more interested in taking care of themselves than serving the state’s voters — a perception that, it should be noted, has resulted in 16 straight years of Republican governors.

The legislature hasn’t overridden Romney’s veto of the measure, so it’s still possible they'll get a clue. Even if Lindstrom stays on the board, though, the hard fact of Delvalle’s death will remain. And this — perverse as it may sound — could be a boon to Christy Mihos, the independent gubernatorial candidate and former Turnpike-board member who made his name as a Big Dig whistleblower. Thus far, Mihos’s candidacy has been relatively quiet. But he has been forceful in the wake of Delvalle’s death, calling for an independent counsel and urging the closure of all comparable tunnels pending a thorough investigation.

The ramifications for Mihos’s rivals are less clear. The Big Dig hasn't been closely identified with Democrats Deval Patrick or Chris Gabrieli. Tom Reilly is another story, since the Democratic attorney general, elected to that post in 1999, has been leading the state’s cost-recovery efforts since 2005. Republicans like to cast his efforts as too little, too late. But forging a connection between Reilly and this week’s disaster won’t be easy. As for lieutenant governor and GOP nominee Kerry Healey, the aforementioned anti-establishment impulse usually benefits Republicans. But Healey, to her detriment, is part of an administration that’s hemmed and hawed about the Big Dig for three and a half years, without actually doing much of anything about it.

Related: Mitt's Katrina, A Handy Guide to the Big Dig Screw-Up, The wrong stuff, More more >
  Topics: Talking Politics , Deval Patrick, Mitt Romney, U.S. Government,  More more >
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