Meet The Romney Protégé Who Wants To Be Massachusetts’ Next Senator

Massachusetts State Rep. Dan Winslow (R)

Massachusetts State Rep. Dan Winslow (R)

Massachusetts State Rep. Dan Winslow (R), who announced last week that he will seek the Republican nomination for Secretary of State John Kerry’s now-vacant U.S. Senate seat, was general legal counsel to Mitt Romney (R) during his time as governor. And while he claims “Massachusetts Republicans are a different kind of breed from the national Republicans,” Winslow’s record is one of a Romney-style national Republican: more interested in fighting for the wealthiest one percent than advancing policies that help the rest of the country.

Perhaps because of successful state services like Romneycare, Winslow does not think Massachusetts is a capitalist state. Though a 2012 CNBC study showed Massachusetts is the state with the highest access to capital in the country, at a 2012 campaign rally, he told Republican activists, “People ask us our plans for jobs, we’ve got this amazing idea, it’s a new concept in Massachusetts: we call it capitalism. We ought to try it sometime.”

To that end, Winslow has supported:

  • Tax cuts for yacht-buyers. Winslow is chief sponsor of HD1965, a bill to repeal the sales tax on the sale of boats built or rebuilt in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Among the potential beneficiaries of this tax cut: the members of the Pamet Harbor Yacht & Tennis Club, on whose board of directors Winslow recently served.
  • Radical transportation cuts that could drastically increase motor vehicle deaths. In an effort to save money, Winslow proposed HD 1751, a bill to “prohibit mandates on cities and towns by the Department of Transportation to construct or reconstruct public ways which exceed local speed limits.” He reasoning: state law regulations often “require roadway design speeds that are faster than the posted speeds on the roads.” This, he argues, “results in a huge waste of money since construction costs increase as design speeds increase.” While he claims this change would “result in millions of dollars of savings,” he highway safety experts note it would more likely result in more deaths. Engineer David L. Harkey, director of the Highway Safety Research Center at the University of North Carolina, told ThinkProgress that speed limits are intentionally set lower than the “design speed,” often by 5 to 10 mph, to “provide a safety factor for the roadway.” Shaun Kildare, research director for Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, agreed, nothing that a road’s design speed is the fastest a driver can safely drive under ideal conditions. If Winslow’s idea of limiting design speeds to the legal speed limit, Kildare told ThinkProgress, “everyone that speeds is going to be going off the road.” He notes that that would mean more death for those speeding even slightly — but also passengers in their cars and non-speeders in nearby cars. In a state like Massachusetts which is often hit by winter weather, having the speed limit at the “design speed” would be especially problematic.
  • Stopping government’s handouts of “free stuff.” Much like his former boss Romney, who lamented that he lost the 2012 election because President Obama gave “big gifts” to minority voters, Winslow thinks the government wastes too much money on giving out “free stuff.” In a 2010 position paper, he proposed a crackdown on “‘poor’ people in the underground economy” who under-report income and cheat on their state tax payments, so they won’t have access to “all that free stuff that Massachusetts hands out (and taxpayers pay for) each year.”
  • Massive budget cuts that would further hurt local governments. Winslow thinks massive cuts are the solution to economic downturns — and that cutting state spending won’t hurt local governments. He wrote on his campaign website: “State spending is out of control. Instead of tightening its fiscal belt like all families have done, our state government has hiked taxes, depleted the stabilization fund, and shifted hardships to towns by cutting local aid. I will propose to cut taxes by cutting state spending. We can stop waste and fraud, create cost-effective reforms, and encourage entrepreneurial government. The worst thing to do in a recession is to increase tax burdens.”
  • Union-busting laws. Winslow has proposed Wisconsin-style legislation to strip public workers of collective bargaining rights. The president of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO told the Boston Globe in 2011 that Winslow was labor’s biggest foe in the legislature. The paper reported, “Winslow filed a bill to remove all but wages, hours, and working conditions from the bargaining table for public employees. [The AFL-CIO’s Robert J.] Haynes noted Winslow’s close ties with Romney and called him the face of the national Republican Party in Massachusetts, bent on replicating the measure in Wisconsin that stripped public employee unions of collective bargaining rights.” He believes no one would want to go into public service, claiming the “vast majority of Americans don’t go through school hoping that they can become an agency worker.” And he wants to make significant cuts to public workers’ pensions and benefits.
  • No revenue increases, ever. Winslow promised “never to support an increase in tax burden while I serve as your State Representative.” A similar pledge proved an albatross to then-Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) and Romney last year, as opponents successfully hammered them for their short-sighted oaths to Grover Norquist.
    • Like Romney last year, Winslow has also refused to say whether he supports the bipartisan Violence Against Women Act re-authorization. And like Romney, he is not convinced that global climate change is really happening.

      Winslow, who will likely face wealthy private equity investor Gabriel Gomez for the Republican nomination to run in the June 25, 2013 special election, said in his announcement speech that “the Senate has plenty of millionaires” but “we need more Senators who have mortgages to pay and who have walked in the shoes of the working men and women of Massachusetts, who come from the middle class.” But a ThinkProgress review of Winslow’s financial disclosure filings show he owns two homes and earns more than $160,000 annually, putting him well above middle class Americans.

      In his campaign for the state legislature, he vowed not to accept any increase in his $60,000-plus annual legislative salary until the unemployment rate drops to under five percent. He did not mention in that pledge that he would also continue to take more than $100,000 in salary from his work as a corporate lawyer, making the sacrifice far less notable.

      Other Winslow legislative proposals have included a HD 1114 (an Electoral College-rigging proposal), HD 1391 (a bill to reduce them minimum wage for teenage worker), and HD 3299 (a bill to make it harder for consumers to bring class action lawsuits under consumer protection laws). With $4,800 in campaign donations to Romney and a record possible even to Romney’s right, Winslow looks much more like a “national Republican” than part of the Massachusetts breed.