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
31

CA: Has Primary Cost MegaBucks Her Chance at November?

By · May, 31 2010

Dan Balz writes in today’s WaPo about the unprecedented volatility of the Republican primary electorate in California. It’s been a roller-coaster ride for MegaBucks Whitman and her Silicon Valley sidekick Steve Poizner.

Whitman’s lead was seen as insurmountable. Until it wasn’t.

After pulling within single digits in some polls, Poizner saw his momentum stall, only to watch Whitman gallop off with another huge lead, if the most recent polls are to be believe

The primary battle veered far off course, as far as the Whitman camp was concerned. Poizner, who had sat quietly on the sidelines as MegaBucks poured tens of millions into television advertising to blanket the state, successfully undermining her fragile support among conservatives with ads about immigration and her Wall Street ties.

He stirred the potent mixture bubbling in the populist Teapot and got results.With polls showing a tightening race, the Whitman team panicked. Rather than presenting herself as the “can-do” problem solver, the eBay exec ran into a full-on embrace of former Gov. Pete Wilson. His reappearance may win support among the GOP base, but could prove toxic among Latinos in the general election.

But the damage inflicted by Poizner on her campaign goes beyond Latino voters. In a state where their numbers continue to decline, Republicans must win over DTS (decline-to-state) voters and registered Democrats if they hope to win in November. But Poizner’s relentless focus on right-wing hot button issues pulled Whitman much further to the right, tarnishing the brand she had hoped millions might build.

Whitman’s strategy was to run a general election campaign from start to finish. Poizner simply didn’t let them.

She had studiously avoided real questions from the press. In recent weeks, as she responded to the pressure coming from the Poizner surge, it became obvious why her campaign wanted to keep her in a “candidate bubble.” As Balz writes,

Still, she has struggled to explain her past and current positions on the issue. She said she would have opposed Prop 187, and she opposes the new Arizona law. In September, while touring the U.S.-Mexican border, she was quoted as saying it was “simply not practical” to round up and deport the roughly 12 million illegal immigrants in the United States, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune. Instead, she said she favored a way to make it possible for them to remain as legal residents. “Can we get a fair program where people stand at the back of the line, they pay a fine, they do some things that would ultimately allow a path to legalization?” she asked, according to the paper.

Many opponents of comprehensive immigration reform call that amnesty, but Whitman insists she was misunderstood. “What I was referring to actually was a guest-worker program,” she said in an interview Friday.

When pressed, she said her lack of familiarity with the issue and her newness to politics had caused the misunderstanding. “When you’re new to politics, sometimes you use words that have like a meaning to people who have been in politics for 20 years,” she explained.

Poizner scoffed. “She can say I changed my mind,” he said. “She can say that, and people can evaluate whether they like her changing her mind. That’s not what she’s saying. She’s saying I’ve never been for amnesty, I’m not for amnesty, no amnesty, no way. Then either she doesn’t know what the word means or she’s being dishonest.”

If she had this much difficulty dispatching Steve Poizner, what’s it going to take for her to compete against Jerry Brown?

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