So Why Did Dan Winslow Resign from the House?

He says it's because of money, but a recent poll suggests otherwise.

Why did state Rep. Daniel Winslow abruptly announce he’s resigning to take a job in Las Vegas? NECN’s resident political junkie Jim Braude grilled Winslow last week and found that his answer—he needs money—leaves something to be desired.

Turns out, there’s a new clue shedding light on why the promising Republican is quitting his post. Weeks before dropping his bombshell, Winslow asked David Paleologos, the Suffolk University pollster, to conduct a private statewide survey of Massachusetts voters to see what they thought of him. They told Winslow, who only recently ran a statewide race for a U.S. Senate seat, his options were limited.

“The poll showed me … that he wasn’t viable for any other office except attorney general,” said Paleologos. “I don’t know the specifics of the opportunity [Winslow was offered], but it seems to me it dwarfed any of the probabilities of political pursuit in Massachusetts.”

According to the poll of registered Massachusetts voters conducted between August 1 and August 6, Winslow would win a contested Republican primary with 8 percent of the vote. It also revealed:

• Winslow is unknown to 60 percent of voters despite running a U.S. Senate race, and his favorability ratio is just 9 percent favorable/4 percent unfavorable. (Paleologos attributed this to the limited exposure of running in only a GOP primary.)
• Sen. Ed Markey would crush him head-to-head, 55 percent to 34 percent.
• Democrats would dismantle a Charlie Baker-Dan Winslow ticket 52 percent to 30 percent, but that is an unlikely prospect: just 2 percent of respondents want him as Baker’s runningmate.
• Secretary of State William F. Galvin, who is weighing a run for attorney general, is known by about 80 percent of voters, has a 39 percent approval rating, a 10 percent unfavorable rating. He also has nearly $600,000 in the bank.

Winslow is known in some circles for his guffaw-worthy gimmicks like stacking a pyramid of marshmallow fluff outside the state budget director’s office. But he’s also recognized as a bipartisan ideas man, and, last week, Braude asked Winslow if he was departing because there was no place for moderate Republicans in Massachusetts. Winslow denied his decision was politically motivated.

Asked about the poll in an interview, Winslow insisted it only revealed one truth: that he would have won the GOP primary for attorney general, he’d have engaged in an “epic” battle against Galvin, and if he’d won, he’d have a job his family couldn’t afford.

Winslow is nearly $150,000 in debt from his Senate campaign. The attorney general’s post paid Martha Coakley $133,644 as of January 2013. Winslow, who currently is of counsel to Duane Morris, would be barred from holding an outside job as the state’s top lawyer. With simultaneous college tuitions for three children looming, Winslow said winning attorney general would leave his family in dire financial straits.

“Once the dog catches the car, what do you do with it?” Winslow said.

Winslow resigns this Sunday, Sept. 29. He’ll be top lawyer at Las Vegas software company Rimini Street. Winslow said he hopes to return to Massachusetts—and potentially its political arena—after four years of wallet fattening.

“It made sense to step back out of this cycle for four years, out of this cycle and focus on my family, and focus on getting my fiscal house in order,” Winslow said. “Down the road, who knows.”