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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May
09

Haley Barbour, the Real Leader of the GOP?

By · May, 09 2010

The Wall Street Journal reports that the Republican Governor’s Association’s foray into the Massachusetts gubernatorial contest is only the opening salvo in what is reported to be a well-financed GOP effort to win Governor’s Mansions across the country.

The brass-knuckles media buy in Massachusetts—where the three candidates are clustered with about 30% of the vote each—is the first big move in a plan by the governors group to spend as much as $65 million to tilt the political playing field in critical states in the 2010 election cycle. According to people familiar with the plan, the RGA will launch another media blitz Tuesday in Colorado, where Republican Scott McIniss and Democratic Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper are locked in a tight race for governor.

While the Republican National Committee and its chairman, Michael Steele, have been mired in criticism this year, the RGA and its silver-haired chairman, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, have been muscling their way to the center stage of Republican politics. If their plan is credited with a string of new Republican governorships, many political strategists believe it will also lay the foundation for a 2012 presidential bid by Mr. Barbour, who chaired the Republican National Committee when his party swept into control of Congress in 1994.

Barbour knows the stakes are much larger than his own political career.  Whoever controls the key governor’s offices after the 2010 elections will have a leg up on redistricting, having an influence on determining the partisan balance in Congress for the next decade.  Looking toward 2014, the Journal also notes that incumbent governors can also have coattails that help in mid-term senate contests.

In many states they also play a big role in influencing election rules and can be kingmakers in presidential primary battles, meaning Haley could have plenty of political chits to cash in come 2012.

For it’s part, the DGA expects to spend a record amount in this cycle, although their $40 million is dwarfed by what the RGA has budgeted. The cash advantage could make the difference in many states, where incumbents are battling historic budget deficits and an angry electorate.

The WSJ ‘s graphic shows how the movement in gubernatorial contests has been toward the GOP over the past few months.

[RGA]

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