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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Sep
21

Hoeffel Shuffles the Dem Deck in PA

By · Sep, 21 2009

Hoping to lay claim to a geographic and ideological base in the 2010 Democratic gubernatorial primary, former Congresscritter Joe Hoeffel told pa2010.comhe will be a candidate. Following months of speculation as to whether any candidates from Eastern PA (other than unproven political wannabe Tom Knox) would enter the fray to challenge two western frontrunners, there’s been a flurry of activity (Scranton Mayor Chris Doherty is leaning toward tossing his hat in as well).

Hoeffel is positioning himself as the “progressive” in the race.

Hoeffel, fueled by a concern that the party may be tacking right, made his decision after commissioning a poll on the race that his campaign said yielded encouraging results. While no formal announcement has been scheduled, Hoeffel, a former Congressman, is in the process of staffing up for his first statewide campaign since he lost a Senate race to Arlen Specter in 2004.

“I do intend to run,” he told pa2010.com in an exclusive interview on Sunday. “I’m going to move forward aggressively. I’m in the race and ready to ride.”

Considering the high-profile Senate primary fight between party-switcher Arlen Specter and Joe Sestak, embracing the liberal banner could be a politically courageous move. While Keystone Democrats have seen their registration numbers soar over the past two years, many of these new Democrats were enticed to join because they wanted to participate in the Obama/Clinton presidential contest. They are almost unquestionably more moderate or conservative in their ideological views than the Democratic electorate typical of other northeastern states. Pennsylvania also has a long history of moderation. One finds pro-life Democrats in elective office as well as pro-choice Republicans. This is a state that tends to shun ideologues (although Rick Santorum is a notable exception) and reward political pragmatism (witness Specter’s longevity).

Could a “progressive” Hoeffel victory (or even a strong showing in the primary) solidify a leftward shift in this swing state that so often plays a huge role in presidential politics?

According to the pa2010 post, Democratic pollster Celinda Lake conducted a survey showing Hoeffel slightly ahead of a pack of four other Democratic contenders. This narrow lead may be the result of geography and name ID.

The political challenges for Hoeffel going forward are considerable, but he could very well be boosted by a geographic base in the heart of the Democratic primary electorate. He seemed destined for political obscurity after giving up his House seat in a failed bid to unseat Specter five years ago. After being elected a county commissioner, he was looking at a term as the minority opposition in county government. But Hoeffel forged a power-sharing agreement with Republican Commissioner Jim Matthews, locking out Republican Bruce Castor and amassing a significant amount of control over policy in the suburban Philadelphia county.

He won’t have the financial resources of a candidate like Knox, and may lack insider support compared to Onorato. But hailing from Montgomery County, which has led the leftward political trend in the Philadelphia suburbs over the last decade, has made Hoeffel a mainstay of party politics in southeast Pennsylvania, where the Democratic primary is likely to be decided. And having been prominently placed on a statewide ballot in 2004, his name recognition is likely to exceed other candidates.

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Categories : Open Seats, Pennsylvania

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