The State Houses – What’s At Stake in 2010

Thirty-nine states will be electing a governor during the 2009-2010 election cycle. Of these, eighteen races will not include an incumbent and four incumbents who will be running were not elected to their current position. The recession and huge budget deficits threaten to undercut the power of incumbency for governors running for reelection.

The Current Line-Up

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Jul
25

Deeds-McDonnell Post Game Thoughts

By · Jul, 25 2009

After getting off to a rocky start (the audio portion malfunctioned for the first 20 minutes of the debate), VirginiaTalks’ livestreaming of the first VA gubernatorial debate provided some insight into how this campaign may unfold.

THE WEDGE ISSUES: Both McDonnell and Deeds are uncomfortable talking about the traditional wedge issues of abortion, guns and gays. Both have right-of-center records on all three and this may not play well to the NoVa and Hampton Roads voters who are vital to winning in November. Particularly on abortion, McDonnell is trying to downplay his conservative positions. The same can be said for Deeds on guns. Both seem somewhat lost when asked about LGBT issues, other than claiming they don’t discriminate.

NATIONAL v. LOCAL: Each of the candidates is attempting to nationalize the election. McDonnell, for his part, wants to talk about cap and trade, national security (he did sneak in a 9/11 reference for old time’s sake), Obama’s economic stimulus and the debate on health care. Deeds, on the other hand, seems to think reminding Virginians about George W Bush’s failed economic policies might work yet again. I think McDonnell may gain the upper hand on this, simply because the national GOPers are trumpeting the same talking points. Few national Democrats are labeling the economic downturn as the Bush recession these days. Following Obama’s lead, they’ve collectively turned the page, helping Americans flush BushCo down the national memory hole.

Most gubernatorial elections turn on local issues (although with the national spotlight  on Virginia and New Jersey it’s easy to see why the campaigns are tempted by the allure of the national debates. Whoever is more successful at convincing voters they can solve the traffic gridlock in the fast-growing regions, create good jobs and maintain strong schools is going to have an advantage. Deeds did score points on McDonnell’s transportation proposal by framing it as a choice between schools and roads. We’ll see if that criticism sticks.

DEEDS MISSED OPPORTUNITY: One thing that puzzles me is why the Deeds campaign doesn’t continually trumpet Virginia’s successes under Democratic leadership. Virginia remains one of the best run states in the nation, is scandal-free (no small task recently) and has a strong economy, relative to other states. He should be wrapping himself in the tight embrace of Mark Warner and Tim Kaine. Doug Wilder should be on the campaign trail with him helping shore up the African American base. Failing to claim the Warner/Kaine mantle allows McDonnell an opening to attract moderate support.

WHO WOULD YOU RATHER HAVE A BEER WITH? If it comes down to personality, I’m not sure how the race shakes out. McDonnell strikes me as a Mitt Romney or John Edwards-type – a perfectly coiffed automaton, well-coached in his answers. But he leaves me wondering, who is the real Bob McDonnell? Creigh Deeds is less polished, an “aw-shucks” kinda guy who sometimes seems to stumble around the more difficult questions. Again, I get the sense it’s a well-rehearsed act. Not sure whether Virginians will pick the artful dodger or good ‘ol boy.

Right now, this race is too close to call.

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Categories : Debates, Virginia

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