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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Archive for July, 2009

Jul
25

VA Gov: The Debating Begins

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This morning the two candidates for Virginia governor meet in their first debate of the general election campaign. It comes at the end of a week when the campaign finally started getting in gear.

The campaigns traded endorsements aimed at burnishing their bipartisan credentials.  McDonnell snagged BET-founder and major Democratic donor Sheila Johnson. Deeds hoped to match that by rolling out a roster of former GOP legislators. Each rolled out major policy proposals, Deeds offered a jobs plan while McDonnell tackled transportation.

While McDonnell’s had numerous GOP headliners at his side in recent weeks, he declined to invite the soon-to-be-available Sarah Palin to join him on the campaign trail. Deeds had VP Biden with him for a day talking about jobs and the middle class. In a “twitterview“‘ with Hotline, he promised Obama would be campaigning with him in the near future despite avoiding a recent presidential town hall meeting in Annandale discussing healthcare reform.

And what would a campaign be without a debate about the debates? McDonnell wants ten across the state. Deeds wants to meet ten times, but limit the number of “debates” and call others candidate “forums”. Regardless, the first debate is about to begin, hosted by the Virginia Bar Association at The Homestead.

live feed at http://virginiatalks.com/#debate

Categories : Debates, Open Seats, Virginia
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Could Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick pay a political price because President Obama made an uncharacteristic political misstep this week?  

The president inserting himself into a local issue by inartfully answering Lynn Sweet’s closing question during Wednesday night’s presidential news conference was certainly ill-advised. Calling the actions of the Cambridge, MA police department “stupid” in arresting renowned African American Harvard University Professor Henry Gates was, in itself, a stupid thing to do.

Beyond the fact the media maelstrom has eclipsed the serious and important discussion about healthcare reform (the purpose of the presser in the first place), the wisdom of a president wading into a situation where he has an admitted personal bias and  a lack of knowledge about the relevant facts is seriously lacking. It highjacked the healthcare narrative and elevated a local issue that was in the process of being resolved by the local authorities into a national story dominating numerous news cycles.

The president’s goal Wednesday night was to create unity about the need to reform our national healthcare system. Instead, he brought the conversation to race, which remains one of the most divisive topics in American politics. There’s no question our society needs to continue talking about the state of America’s race relations, but make no mistake about it – the president failed this week. He went lost the message on his top policy priority, placed himself into the middle of a contentious discussion no one is going to “win,” and put one of his earliest allies in a precarious political position. Read More→

Jul
24

No Free Pass for Quinn

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Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, who replaced the impeached Rod Blagojevich probably thought he had dodged a bullet when popular two-term Attorney General Lisa Madigan decided against making a gubernatorial run, electing to run for reelection. If he did breathe a sigh of relief, it came too soon. With Madigan’s plans revealed, other politicians are now making their moves.

State Comptroller Dan Hynes, who ran unsuccessfully against then-State Senator Barack Obama in the 2004 US Senate primary, is said to be preparing a gubernatorial run.  Hynes had been eyeing Madigan’s office, but her decision to stay put has caused him to cast his gaze toward the Governor’s Mansion. If he does jump in, it will be soon, as the primary is in February. Candidates can begin collecting signatures August 4th. According to the Chicago Tribune,

The comptroller starts the race with a major fundraising advantage. Hynes has $3.5 million banked after raising more than $905,000 in the first half of the year. Quinn raised more than $860,000 in that time period but had a little more than $700,000 left.

Read More→

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Jul
24

The Sleeping Giant No More

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The US Census recently released a report on voter turnout in the 2008 presidential election. The most important finding with electoral ramifications for years to come is the enormous surge among Hispanic voters. Nearly 2.2 million more Hispanic voters showed up at the polls in 2008 over 2004, an increase of over 28%. Josh Goodman has an interesting writeup on the Latino voting bloc’s increasing importance, including a chart showing the Hispanic percentage by state.

Most political observers know by now that the Latino vote (which supported President Obama by a 2-1 margin) was critical to his electoral college success, helping the Democrats add Nevada, Florida and Colorado to their electoral college column. Historically, Latinos have been an underperforming population on election day, consistently voting at rates below the overall average. Perhaps the failure of comprehensive immigration reform or the 2006 May Day rallies sparked by the anti-Hispanic rhetoric coming from some (mostly Republican) political leaders awakened the sleeping giant of American politics.

If so, it’s bad news for Republicans.

Read More→

Jul
23

Feds Arrest Jersey Politicians

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First thoughts on the news that among the dozens arrested by the FBI this morning in New Jersey and New York as part of an international money laundering and political corruption probe are at least three New Jersey politicians. It plays right into the “clean government” foundation GOP gubernatorial nominee Chris Christie has built his campaign upon. Could it “seal the deal” for the former US Attorney who built his reputation on prosecuting political corruption cases?

Despite the fact the arrested politicos hail from both parties, the scandal could further undermine Governor Jon Corzine’s already endangered reelection chances. Voter disgust over more political corruption in a state with a storied tradition of crooked officials may prove too much for the embattled incumbent to overcome.

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Jul
22

Wednesday Quick Hits

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IDAHO: Butch Otter hasn’t announced whether or not he’s running for reelection, but he may actually have a serious primary challenge from Ada County Commissioner Sharon Ullman.

IOWA: Republican State Rep. Rod Roberts plans to create an exploratory committee to run for governor.

MAINE: Declaring herself the “outsider” in the slowly forming Democratic contest for Blaine House, Portland businesswoman Rosa Scarcelli announced her gubernatorial run explaining,

“The Democrats running for governor are all good people with the best intentions,” she said in the statement. “But they are all veterans of Augusta. They’ve had their chance and now it’s time for a change. We need new faces, fresh ideas and an outside perspective if we’re going to get this economy moving and put Maine people back to work. That’s why I’m running for governor.”

MICHIGAN: Former Gateway CEO Rick Snyder officially launched his campaign for the GOP nomination by traveling across the Great Lakes State. The former venture capitalist believes he has the experience necessary to address the serious economic turmoil bedeviling the state, where the nation’s highest unemployment rate has risen to 15.2%.

MINNESOTA: Former Eden Prairie School Board member David Hann is the latest Republican declaring his interest in the governor’s office.

MINNESOTA II: Former state Auditor Pat Anderson also joined the crowded GOP field vying to replace Tim Pawlenty. With seven potential candidates, the GOP will soon be able to field a full baseball lineup. Wonder who will emrge as their cleanup hitter?

NEW MEXICO: At the announcement of her candidacy, Republican Susana Martinez pledges to end “pay-to-play” if she’s elected governor. Considering the lingering investigations haunting Bill Richardson’s outgoing administration, it could be a strong message.

PENNSYLVANIA: Democratic Scranton Mayor Chris Doherty, fresh off an impressive re-election effort this year, is considering a gubernatorial campaign in 2010.

 After months of devastating job approval numbers, NY Governor David Paterson appears to have halted his freefall into political oblivion. Siena College’s July survey of 623 registered NY voters shows the second monthly uptick in the incumbent’s favorability and job performance ratings. While the 2010 elections are still a year away, Paterson still looks weak against potential primary and general election opposition as he prepares his campaign. (Complete cross tabs here–pdf)

As speculated by StateHouseRock, the state Senate’s partisan circus provided Paterson a much needed opportunity. In comparison to the senate’s clowns, the governor could look like the responsible adult, especially if he solved the stalemate. By appointing Richard Ravitch as his Lt. Governor, Paterson did just that, and it appears some New Yorkers are giving him credit. A slight majority (51%) of voters approve of the Ravitch appointment and, when asked who they felt was to blame for the standoff, most pointed their fingers at the legislative branch.

The political waters are treacherous for NY politicians as voters look toward 2010. The voters are angry with the Senate, with 62% saying they will remember the standoff when they step into the polling booth next year. By a plurality of 40-31, voters say they would vote for the challenger. Seventy-one percent told Siena the past month made them less confident in the state government’s ability to address the problems facing New York.

Who is most to blame for State Senate stalemate?

Sen. Pedro Espada

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Senate GOP

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Senate Dems

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Gov. Paterson

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Paterson, whose problems were primarily self-inflicted by his bumbling appointment of Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, faces a stiff campaign if either of two high-profile names choose to launch a gubernatorial bid.

Read More→

Jul
21

Slow Boat to China Readying to Sail

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The summer’s other Senate confirmation hearing, that of Utah Governor Jon Huntsman’s nomination as envoy to China is scheduled for this Thursday. When President Obama tapped the moderate Republican for the post, most heralded the move as a Machiavellain masterstroke, effectively removing one of the emerging stars of the GOP’s moderate wing from the national stage.

Sending Huntsman on a slow boat to China allowed Obama to silence one of his potential 2012 rivals. And it’s worked. He’s been in virtual isolation ever since, preparing for his confirmation.

Huntsman’s impending departure to Beijing sets the stage for yet one more 2010 governor’s race. Utah state law allows for the elevation of the Lt. Governor, Gary Herbert, to replace Huntsman. However, it requires that a special election be held in November 2010 to fulfill the remainder of Huntsman’s term (he was re-elected in 2008). Herbert has already indicated he plans to run for the office in his own right.  A couple of other GOPers have indicated they’re seriously contemplating a run.

Perhaps most intriguing is this. The best-known and highest ranking Democrat in the state, long-time US Representative Jim Matheson has amassed over a million dollars in his campaign coffers, fueling speculation he may be eyeing a gubernatorial run as well.

A Democratic governor in Utah?  That’s a true Fifty State Strategy.

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Jul
21

Sunshine State Dems Rising?

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Florida CFO Alex Sink’s impressive fundraising numbers for her gubernatorial run (she brought in $1.3 million compared to Republican Bill McCollum’s $1.06 million) mark a significant reversal of the two parties’ Sunshine State fortunes.  After a decade of decline and a near total eclipse by the GOP at the state level, the Democratic Party outshone their presumptive standardbearer’s performance, as they nearly doubled the GOP’s fundraising totals for the second quarter.

It could be that the Crist-Rubio contest in the state’s senate primary is attracting all of the GOP donor base’s attention and sucking up all the money. But considering Crist is the overwhelming favorite to become the next senator, these fundraising numbers may reveal the dawning of a new day for the Democratic Party.

A weakened economy (the GOP donors in the finance and real estate industries are among the hardest hit in the current recession) combined with an energized and experienced Democratic grassroots (Organizing for America is already gearing up in Florida) are scrambling the political calculations in a state where Democrats have spent years in decline. Read More→

Jul
20

Christie Picks His Number Two

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NJ GOP nominee Chris Christie picks his Lt. Governor running mate, Monmouth County Sheriff Kim Guadagno.  Here is the announcement video in which she declares,

“I’m proud to be part of the team. Almost twenty years ago I chose to move to New Jersey with my husband Mike. He was born and raised here. And now we have a family here. My three boys live in New Jersey. And, unfortunately because of the economy today they’re not going to be able to stay. They’re going to have to go and find opportunities elsewhere because this state is broken.

As a federal prosecutor and later as the Monmouth County Sheriff, I had to make tough decisions. And this is the time in New Jersey’s history when we have to make tough decisions, Chris. And I am proud to be part of your team because I know you will face those challenges head on.”

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