THE STUMP NOVEMBER 4, 2011
It was lost amid Cainamania this week, but it's worth noting that there was a rare blip of trouble for Mitt Romney this week in the friendly territory of New Hampshire. The Boston Globe and Concord Monitor both reported on the support Romney's been getting from Greg Butler, the senior vice president and general counsel for the Northern Pass project, a controversial plan to import hydroelectric energy to New England from Canada along 180 miles of new transmission lines in New Hampshire. Butler has co-chaired two New York fundraisers for Romney this fall and contributed the $2,500 maximum to him in May. It may not surprise you terribly to learn that despite the strong support from Butler, Romney's stance on the power line has been...not to take a stance. This has left some New Hampshire voters distinctly nonplussed. From the Monitor:
That could cause some trouble for Romney among Northern Pass opponents, who have been vocal in the North Country and elsewhere in the state about the project and the possibility of land being taken by eminent domain for it.
"You're talking about 180 miles of irate voters that will register their disconnect by casting negative votes
against candidates like Romney and positive votes for anybody that comes out in opposition to the Northern Pass," said Joe Drinon, a retired financial adviser and anti-Northern Pass activist from Chichester.
Drinon, a registered Republican, said Romney's tie to a Northern Pass official "is just too close for me. And I was going to vote for Romney. I think it's fair to say my wife was considering it seriously. And there's no way - no way - I'll vote for Romney. I don't care if they run the dogcatcher against him. I'll vote for the dogcatcher."
There is a back story to the the Northern Pass debate: opponents of proposed wind turbines in Nantucket Sound -- chief among them Robert F. Kennedy Jr., whose family has a wee bit of shoreline real estate down on the sound -- have seized on the potential for hydroelectric power from Canada as proof that Cape Wind is not needed. And Romney as governor was opposed to Cape Wind, to the dismay of Massachusetts environmentalists who otherwise saw him as relatively sympathetic to their cause. So it's not surprising that Northern Pass executives such as Butler would see Romney as likely to be on their side on the hydroelectric line. Just don't expect Romney to come out and actually say so.