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


Archive for August, 2009


New Mexico Dems Dodge a Bullet

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Reports from DC indicate NM Governor Bill Richardson won’t be charged following a year-long FBI investigation into “pay-to-play” allegations regarding lucrative state contracts awarded to wealthy donors to the Democrat’s political campaigns.

Democrats in New Mexico were already absorbing the news about the recent fraud and embezzlement indictments against former two-term Secretary of State Rebecca Vigil-Giron. An indictment of Richardson, the biggest name in New Mexico politics, would’ve put Democrats on the defensive in a state where they’ve been on a sustained winning streak in recent cycles. The biggest beneficiary is Lt. Governor Diane Denish, the frontrunner for the Democratic nod in next year’s gubernatorial contest.

Categories : New Mexico, Open Seats
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Virginia GOP gubernatorial nominee Bob McDonnell’s new television ad resurrects last year’s failed Palin/McCain campaign chant, “Drill, Baby, Drill!” repackaging it in picturesque images of pristine beaches and magnolias in full bloom. Recognizing the transformed political landscape, the energy industry has refocused their PR campaign to convince the public about the wisdom of offshore drilling from widespread anger over last summer’s soaring gasoline prices to unease about high unemployment.

Offshore drilling is now about creating jobs.

Extolling the virtues of “clean” coal, nuclear energy and “safe” offshore drilling McDonnell promises to be a jobs governor who makes Virginia the “Energy Capital of the East Coast.”

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On the Teevee & The Radio

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Over the weekend, Democrat Creigh Deeds launched his first television ad of the general election campaign (although it isn’t airing in the critical Democratic stronghold of Northern Virginia despite polls showing he only has a narrow lead over Republican Bob McDonnell).

As the Labor Day start to the fall campaign approaches, Deeds’ ad “This Election” talks about education, transportation, smart governance and, perhaps most importantly uses video of he and Sen. Mark Warner together. I believe Deeds must convincingly link himself to the Warner legacy in voters minds to win this election for the Democrats.

The Democrat has also been having difficulty connecting with African American voters in the Old Dominion, according to the polls. In an effort to mobilize support among this critical Democratic voting bloc, he’s got a new radio ad running in Hampton Roads, Richmond and Roanoke targeting the areas with significant African American populations.

The ad, “Fired Up!” uses audio from President Obama’s recent campaign appearance with Deeds in Northern Virginia. I believe Deeds has been making a potentially fatal mistake by not embracing the president on the campaign trail (he has ducked some of Obama’s health-care  related appearances in the commonwealth). It’s a positive development to see he’s starting to utilize the president, even if its targeting is limited at this point.

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Godspeed, Sen. Kennedy

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America’s most powerful voice on health-care reform has been silenced, an immeasurable loss at a critical juncture. As a Massachusetts native who grew up surrounded by the Kennedy mystique (my mother expressed dismay a few years back when she realized there were people who didn’t like Ted Kennedy), the long-anticipated loss of the man who was my senator the day I was born decades ago is more personal than expected.

My hope is the loss becomes the nation’s gain. Will his colleagues put the capstone on Ted Kennedy’s legacy by enacting real health-care reform?

Categories : Uncategorized
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South Carolina’s Lt Governor Andre Bauer is publicly urging scandal-scarred Governor Mark Sanford to step down from office. He’s reiterating a promise he made earlier this summer. If Sanford steps down (and Bauer becomes another Accidental Governor), he vows to not mount his own gubernatorial campaign in 2010.

Bauer is the first constitutional officer to join a growing chorus of lawmakers pushing for Sanford to resign, including a majority of Republican state senators.

Today’s announcement, according to a source close to Bauer, is intended to send a message to State House leadership that Sanford needs to step down and Bauer won’t stand in the way. Some lawmakers have been hesitant to push for Sanford’s resignation because it would give Bauer an unfair advantage in the 2010 race, as he would be running for governor as an incumbent.

Bauer is the first constitutional officer to join a growing chorus of lawmakers pushing for Sanford to resign, including a majority of Republican state senators.

Today’s announcement, according to a source close to Bauer, is intended to send a message to State House leadership that Sanford needs to step down and Bauer won’t stand in the way. Some lawmakers have been hesitant to push for Sanford’s resignation because it would give Bauer an unfair advantage in the 2010 race, as he would be running for governor as an incumbent.

Bauer’s renewed promise may be the final push the state GOP needs to oust Sanford as the list of the governor’s misdeeds grows with each passing day. The powerbrokers must be coming close to the realization that the longer Sanford remains in the headlines the more damage he does to the GOP brand in the Palmetto State, making defending the Governor’s Mansion a more difficult task.


Rudy The Reluctant

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I’ve always thought the pollsters obsessively polling Giuliani-Paterson or Giuliani-Cuomo gubernatorial matchups were wishful thinking by a Manhattan-centric media hoping for a high-wattage Empire State campaign. Giuliani and Pataki are the two Republicans with the fundraising ability and national prominence to make at least one of New York’s 2010 statewide races interesting in a state overwhelmingly dominated by Democrats.

Despite all the early surveys showing Guiliani a virtual lock to win the GOP nod and a serious contender in the general election, it appears ”America’s Mayor” may not oblige.  Politico is reporting numerous Rudy Giuliani associates as saying “America’s Mayor” is unlikely to launch a 2010 gubernatorial run.

Within his inner circle, there is still considerable debate as to whether the job represents a good fit for the former GOP presidential candidate or even whether Giuliani is serious about seeking the seat currently held by embattled Democrat David Paterson.

 In a meeting earlier this month with Guy Molinari, the former congressman and Staten Island Borough president, Giuliani wondered aloud if his style could produce results in New York’s notoriously dysfunctional state capital. 

“He expressed concern about how effective he would be,” recalled Molinari, a longtime Giuliani associate. “One thing I’ve learned about Rudy is that he wants to be effective.”

Rudy won’t announce a final decision until after the November New York City mayoral contest is over. My guess is he enjoys the attention, but won’t make the jump.

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Rick Shaftan, a pollster for defeated conservative gubernatorial candidate Steve Lonegan, has released the first poll indicating two weeks of negative headlines has severely damaged GOP nominee Chris Christie. Not sure ho credible this polling outfit (Neighborhood Research), is but it will be interesting to see if other pollsters validate Shaftan’s findings. 

Both candidate’s favorability ratings are in the tank, as the campaign has sunk into a mudslinging free-for-all. Talking Points Memo reports the strategist’s analysis:

“Yeah, I was really surprised at it myself,” Shaftan, who most recently worked for Christie’s primary opponent, told TPM. “The Corzine people have managed to convince people that Christie is dirty.”

Shaftan expects that liberal voters, who currently have fairly high negative views of Corzine, will come home to him in the end. Corzine is himself a big liberal, after all. In addition, Christie’s recent troubles — involving newly-revealed conversations with Karl Roves (sic) which have tied him to the 2007 US Attorney firing scandal and separately about an undisclosed loan he made to Michele Brown, a subordinate in the U.S. Attorney’s office — appear to be taking a toll.

I’m curious whether or not these negative numbers for both Christie and Corzine increases the odds for independent (and Sierra Club-endorsed) candidate Chris Daggett.

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Rasmussen recently evaluated the Georgia governor’s contest and found the two most-widely known candidates in each party are comfortably ahead at this early stage. The GOP sample surveyed 799 Republicans and had an MoE of +/- 5% while the Democratic sample was much smaller, including 328 respondents with MoE +/- 6%. In a state where the Republican Party has been on the rise over the past decade, will the open seat gubernatorial contest affirm GOP control or might a former governor win and spark a Democratic rebound in the Peach State?

On the GOP side, state Fire and Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine’s 18-point lead looks formidable at first glance. He is by far the best known. Only 24% of respondents don’t have an opinion about him while a majority of respondents have not formed an opinion of all the other candidates (except Karen Handel).  With the 37% supporting either “Other or Not Sure’” leading the crowded pack, it’s far from certain Oxendine will be the eventual nominee.

 Georgia GOP primary contest
  Support Favorable Unfavorable Not Sure
John Oxendine 31 63 13 24
Nathan Deal 13 32 11 56
Karen Handel 13 44 13 42
Eric Johnson 3 15 17 68
Ray McBerry 2 14 15 71
Austin Scott 2 17 14 68
Other 6      
Not Sure 31      

Something to watch over the course of the next few months is whether or not Nathan Deal can ignite support among the far right from his perch in Congress? His advocacy of the revocation of the constitutional guarantee of citizenship to all born in the US is a rallying point for anti-immigrant forces. An ascendant Deal could force the  GOP field further to the right. A Deal primary victory could dramatically change the general election forecast. Read More→

Categories : Georgia, Polls
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To watch NJ GOP gubernatorial candidate Chris Christie brag about how “his team” of lawyers in the (supposedly apolitical) US Attorneys office is ready to move with him to Trenton and looking forward to not having “to worry about  beyond a reasonable doubt anymore” should remind New Jersey voters about the worst excesses of the Bush Department of Justice.


You know, we’re going to ferret out waste and fraud and abuse in the government. I think you know I’ll do that better than anybody. I’ve got a group of assistant U.S. attorneys sitting down in Newark still doing their job. But let me tell you, they are watching the newspapers. And after we win this election, I’m going to take a whole group of them to Trenton with me and put them in every one of the departments because they saw a lot of waste and abuse being investigated while we were in the U.S. Attorney’s office that didn’t rise to the level of a crime. So I told them, the good news is, when we get to Trenton we don’t have to worry about beyond a reasonable doubt anymore. (h/t – emptywheel)

Our constitutional rights have been eroded as the nation’s partisan divide widened over the past decade. In the post 9/11 era, it’s relatively easy to conceive a campaign when a political candidate utters the words, “presumption of innocence is a threat to the American way of life.”

It might be an interesting question to ask Mr. Christie.

Categories : New Jersey
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Deeds Makes His Case

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I finally got around to watching Creigh Deeds’ speech at George Mason University from Friday. It’s text may be a Democratic boilerplate, including his biography, empathy (is that word still allowed in our public discourse after Sotomayor?), and a commitment to education.

He reminds Virginians that the commonwealth under Democratic governors Mark Warner and Tim Kaine has been the rated the best in America for business, the best managed and the best to raise a child. He then pivots to the differences between his vision and that of his opponent, Bob McDonnell. McDonnell has never proposed an economic investment package but has proposed thirty-five bills focused on abortion.

In Deeds words McDonnell, “believes that a social agenda should come before sound public policy and his record, his career in politics reflects that. Virginia just can’t afford to go back to that. We can’t afford to get mired down in an ideological crusade and we can’t afford to replace our common-sense mainstream goals with his social agenda and failed economic approaches of the past.”

Despite progressive concern over Deeds’ conservative leanings, early in the speech he actually dared to say, “My career has shown me that working together the people of this Commonwealth can count on government to make a difference.”

How’s that for a stark contrast?

the full video

some excerpts from the speech: Read More→

Categories : Open Seats, Virginia
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