What’s the deal lately with Smith College conservatives? In 2004, Smith economics professor James D. Miller was the Republican candidate for state senate against Democratic incumbent Stanley Rosenberg. Last year, the school’s Center for Social and Political Change — funded by right-wing foundations — released a study purporting to expose rampant liberal bias among America’s college professors. Now, the school has spawned another right-wing challenger to Rosenberg: Michaela LeBlanc, class of ’07.
“I’m excited about running, excited about mobilizing young Republicans across the state to help with my campaign,” says LeBlanc, who serves on the Smith Republican Club executive board and is her current class president. “I’m absolutely driven to succeed.”
Although LeBlanc has not officially announced her candidacy, she filed paperwork on December 29 to establish her campaign committee — the first challenger in the district to do so. She expects to launch her campaign officially by the end of this month, and is developing her campaign platform. “I have extensive fundraising to do,” she adds.
A Falmouth Academy grad from Cotuit, an equestrian competitor, and a staunch Republican, LeBlanc got hooked on politics working on the Bush-Cheney campaign in 2004 — and on the ill-fated candidacy of Miller, who happens to be the Smith Republican Club adviser.
That experience should have taught her that Rosenberg is no easy target. He’s held the Hampshire-Franklin district seat for 15 years, and been president pro tempore of the Senate since 2003. In 2004 he slaughtered Miller, winning 84 percent of the vote — including a resounding 88 percent in Smith’s own Northampton.
Can a 19-year-old coed change that balance? LeBlanc says she’ll have an energetic group of volunteers from the five-college area, and that other college Republicans across the state will be attracted to a student candidate.
Rosenberg insists he won’t take her lightly, if she does become the Republican nominee. “Anything is possible, and I believe in competition,” he says. He recalls first taking out nominating papers at almost as young an age — he believes he was 23 at the time. He didn’t even manage to gather enough signatures to get on the ballot for Governor’s Council.