This is becoming the story of how Mitt Romney fell off the straight trajectory to victory. In Illinois, Romney's campaign gave Rick Santorum a pass they did not have to. A race Romney would have won outright is now competitive.The story is a rather interesting one. Romney's state chairman wants to run for Governor and did not want to make enemies with the Santorum crowd. BuzzFeed explains:
Illinois Treasurer and Romney state chairman Dan Rutherford withdrew challenges in those districts, allowing Santorum the opportunity to win 30 delegates he would have missed out on. . . .Rutherford is thought to be planning to seek his party's nomination for governor in 2014, and Romney's other local allies accuse him of putting his interests above the candidate's, and ingratiating himself to Santorum-supporting conservative activists.
it is not just Rutherford.
Romney's Boston team is also fixated on getting Scott Brown (R-MA) re-elected in Massachusetts. Their loyalties and focus are divided. What may be good for Romney with conservatives and base consolidation, may be bad for Scott Brown. In trying not to rock the boat, they are playing Romney a bit too safe. The campaign has divided loyalties. It needs to recognize that Romney will, in fact, need conservatives in the general election. The campaign will need the South. They may be banking on the fact that conservatives will turn out to beat Obama, but there is a sizable minority who view Romney as not really an improvement. In a tight election, Romney will need even those people.Throughout the states, Romney has done a formidable and good job building up staff and political allies to help him. But in places like Illinois, those people sometimes put their own political ambitions ahead of Romney. They're just following his campaign's example.The Romney team needs to pick — are they in this for Romney or are they in it for more than Romney? If they are in it for more than Romney, they just might lose both Romney and the other.