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


IA: The GOP’s Existential Crisis

By · May, 30 2010

The Des Moines Register blog has a post up asking, “Who will win battle for GOP soul?

It’s a fascinating look at the power struggle between the discordant elements vying for control of the Republican agenda in the crucial, first-in-the-nation presidential nominating state. The outcome of the gubernatorial primary contest may reveal whether or not we are on the cusp of a Republican renaissance and, if so, what might a GOP-led future look like?

Their choice will send a message about the direction they seek for their party: Should it be a big-tent organization that reaches out to independents and Democrats, or a base-pleasing model of social conservative purity? The bigger question won’t be answered until Nov. 2: Will adherents of each vision coalesce around a common candidate – or stay home?

Many high-ranking Republicans would rather not talk about this battle for the soul of the Iowa GOP. They insist Republicans will support their nominee, whether it’s presumed front-runner former Gov. Terry Branstad, or his top challenger, social conservative darling Bob Vander Plaats, and that all this is the healthy airing of views during a primary.

While many outsiders look at Branstad as a formidable favorite in November (most surveys show he would be favored over Culver), unifying the diverse blocs in the state GOP may not prove all that easy for the former governor.  Iowa’s social conservatives represent a powerful bloc within the state GOP and many of them simply don’t view Branstad as conservative enough. Led by the Iowa Family PAC, conservatives have gone a step further than simply endorsing Vander Plaats. They’ve promised to withhold their support from Branstad if he winds up the party’s nominee.

Bryan English, spokesman for Iowa Family PAC, views the primary as a watershed moment for Iowa Republicans.

“This primary is about so much more than any one issue. This primary is about the overarching philosophy that will lead us into the fall of 2010 and will set the stage for the presidential caucuses of 2012,” he said. “I think the people of Iowa will send Washington a message that we’re tired of the party establishment on both sides of aisle force-feeding us the same candidates year after year.”

Further complicating Branstad’s general election chances is the Tea Party’s emergence. Many in the anti-establishment grassroots view Branstad as part of the problem, not the solution.

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