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 May, 2010


AL: “The Last Thing”

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After accusing Agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks’ campaign of playing racial politics earlier this month, Rep. Artur Davis has done just that.

In the waning days of the Democratic gubernatorial primary Davis is airing a radio ad titled “The Last Thing,” accusing Sparks of fostering aclimate of racial discrimination in the state Department of Agriculture and Industries.

A Sparks campaign spokesman has said the candidate wasn’t personally involved in any of the three cases, two of which were dismissed and the the third resolved with a “nominal settlement.” The Davis attack is a racially-charged low blow that may reveal just how worried the front-runner is about losing critical support among African-Americans in Tuesday’s primary.

Listen Here:

The Script:

The last thing you’d expect to hear about a Democratic candidate for Governor is that his own employees had to take him to court for race discrimination.

That candidate is Ron Sparks.  Sparks’ Agriculture Department has been sued three times for race discrimination by his own employees. They said Sparks created a hostile workplace for blacks.

And what did Ron Sparks do about it? He took over two years to respond to an administrative judge’s finding that a black female’s rights were violated, a delay the federal court called “unjustifiable.”

Sparks even had to use our tax dollars to cover up his department’s mess with a secret settlement.

The very people who trusted Ron Sparks to give them the right leadership. Three of them had to take him to court?

Claims of race discrimination. A rebuke from a federal judge.

That’s who Ron Sparks really is. And Alabama would be much better off without him.

The Last Thing sound bite

Categories : AdMonitor, Alabama
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Guber Quick Hits, Thurs 5/27/10

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Massachusetts: Deval Patrick ratcheted up the campaign rhetoric at a public forum described the intense opposition to the president’s agenda “is almost at the level of sedition.” That’s the way to turn down the partisanship, accuse the opposition of treason.

Nevada: Someone still likes Jim Gibbons. A group representing 250 law enforcement officers in Nevada has endorsed the embattled incumbent.

New Mexico: Former NM GOP Chair Allen Weh is relying on one of his old friends to make some campaign calls for him. In a taped recording, Karl Rove is urging thousands of New Mexicans to vote for Weh, the politico who was implicated along with Rove in the politically-motivated firing of US Attorney David Iglesias.

New York: Politico reports that the Queens County GOP has switched its support in the guber contest from Steve Levy to the newest contender, Myers Mermel. Levy’s party switch looks as doomed and ill-advised as Arlen Specter’s. Another example of how in politics, you should “love the one you’re with.”

South Carolina: A week after endorsing Meg Whitman in CA, former VP Dick Cheney is now coming to the rescue of Rep. Gresham Barrett’s gubernatorial run. Not sure if he’s got the memo, but this isn’t the horse Sarah’s backing. Cheney denounces fellow Republicans who are engaging in “revisionist history” and attacking Barrett’s vote for TARP, saying it showed courageous leadership. Of course, since Bush/Cheney left office, Barrett has held steadfast against the Obama Administration’s agenda to expand government. He may call this courageous and principled. Others might call it pure partisanship.


FL: Sink Meeting With Chiles

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Democrat Alex Sink is being spooked by the possibility of a primary challenge from Lawton “Bud” Chiles III.

After witnessing how Rick Scott’s entry on the GOP side has thrown that race into turmoil, she’s proactively taking steps to prevent a serious challenge from the scion of a Sunshine State political dynasty derailing her bid.

Sink said she has already talked with Chiles on the phone to get a better sense of the issues that concern him.

“He’s definitely still thinking about it, but I’m anxious to have an opportunity to tell him about why I’m running, what my message is, my winning strategy, talk about the organization I’ve put together, the endorsements that I have from a broad segment of Democrats and just find out what he’s thinking about,” Sink said.

Find out what he’s thinking about and a “pretty, pretty, pretty please don’t run.”

Categories : Florida
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Despite trailing state Rep. Scott Conklin by less than 4,000 votes in the Democratic race for Light Guv, former Philadelphia City Controller Jonathan Saidel announced he would concede the race without a recount, which would’ve been triggered automatically under state law.

Citing the $500,000 cost of the recount and the slim chances a recount would overturn the results, he opted to save the state taxpayers money and give the party a chance to come together for the general election.


“Jonathan Saidel has spent a lifetime saving taxpayers money and has determined that the estimated $500,000 a recount will cost the state is not justifiable given the significant odds against a successful conclusion from our perspective,” his campaign said in a statement. “Jonathan has instructed his legal team to prepare notification to the Secretary of State of his request not to proceed with the automatic recount.”

Guber nominee Dan Onorato quickly welcomed his new dance partner to the Democratic ticket.

“Scott Conklin became a state Representative because he was disgusted with the Harrisburg culture after the infamous legislative pay grab,” Onorato said in a statement Wednesday. “Just as I took on an entrenched incumbent to become County Executive, Scott earned his seat by demanding reform and winning a ‘safe’ Republican seat.

With Arlen Specter bringing his former rival Joe Sestak to the Democratic Senate caucus luncheon this week and the quick resolution of the close Lt. Gov contest, Keystone Democrats are unifying for November. In a “change” election, the Democrats’ top three candidates will be relatively fresh faces to most Pennsylvania voters, as none have run for statewide office prior to this year. All will try to claim the mantle of outsider and reformer.

With Conklin’s presence on the ticket, Democrats have a representative from the state’s interior, a formerly rock-ribbed Republican stronghold. Centre County has become a swing region in recent elections, but it does raise the possibility of making some inroads there for Democrats. Onorato’s Pittsburgh base and Sestak’s southeastern PA home should bring a strong balance to their statewide ticket. The key may be whether or not outgoing Gov. Ed Rendell is able to successfully ramp up his Philadelphia machine to defend his chair for the Democrats this fall.

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South Dakota State Sen. Gordon Howie, a rancher and real estate developer owes $56,863 in property taxes on thirty pieces of property. He’s also running in the crowded GOP gubernatorial primary on June 8 and declares himself “the Tea Party candidate for governor.”

How’s this for a window into what motivates some of these candidates to run?

Howie is the unofficial tea party candidate, running a campaign against taxes and spending. Last year, he was the prime sponsor of a bill that would have raised the state sales tax from 4 percent to 6 percent. The bill, which failed, called for using the increases in sales taxes to lower property taxes statewide, an effort that some questioned because of Howie’s profession.

I’m not sure how anyone could look beyond this blatant self-interest and still support his candidacy.

Categories : South Dakota, Tea Party
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Guber Quick Hits, Wed 5/26/10

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California:’s founder Peter Schurman is moving on. He’s abandoning his guber run now that Democrat “Jerry Brown has begun to do what it will take to win: speaking up on issue [sic] like green jobs, reaching out to voters, and confronting the Republicans on their ties to Wall Street.”

California II: The GOP establishment continues lining up behind former eBay exec Meg Whitman. Last week it was Dick Cheney. This week it’s Newt Gingrich calling MegaBucks the best choice for California. If she wins the nod, she’s going to want many of these endorsers to retreat back to their undisclosed locations as they’re not going to win over California moderates.

Maryland: The state Attorney General has cited constitutional protections of free speech in ruling that former Gov. Bob Ehrlich’s weekly radio show isn’t an illegal campaign contribution as he gears up his run for his old office against Democrat Martin O’Malley. The Baltimore Sun editorializes disapprovingly about the gubernatorial contest devolution into partisan gamesmanship and takes both campaigns to task for failing to address the real concerns of Maryland’s voters.

Minnesota: Confidently predicting a sweeping victory this November, Minnesota Republicans filed election papers en masse Tuesday.  Guber nominee Tom Emmer (and Sarah’s favorite “hockey dad”) said of the gathering “This feels and smells like a locker room.”  Say what?

New York: It’s starting to look like a Cuomo coronation as the Independence Party beat the Dems to be first to endorse the Democrat for governor.

Pennsylvania: A “mad as hell” grand jury has recommended sweeping reforms of state government in the aftermath of the state’s “BonusGate” scandal. While the jury didn’t express confidence in any real reforms being implemented, both guber candidates are saying it’s a top priority.

South Carolina: Not to be outdone by the Moose Lady, the Mittster stands by his woman, Nikki Haley, in the GOP guber primary. With blogger Chris Folks releasing messages between Haley’s campaign manager, the media and himself providing context as to why he went public (and making it seem there was some fire behind all that smoke), it seems the takeaway for any politician or political operative in this digital age is, DON’T TEXT!

Texas: Gov. Rick Perry is writing a book, titled Fed Up, described by the publisher “as a polemic that casts federal policies as a “legitimate threat to America’s continued leadership in the free world.” It’s due out before the November elections. A Perry spokesperson denies this indicates Perry is contemplating a 2012 presidential run.

A new poll from Suffolk University reinforces the numbers Rasmussen released a couple of weeks ago. What has once been a toss-up contest between Gov. Deval Patrick (D), Charlie Baker (R) and Timothy Cahill (Ind) has shifted toward the incumbent.

Suffolk state of the race numbers (including Green Party candidate Jill Stein)/MoE +/- 4.4%

Mass Gubernatorial Matchup






Patrick (D)





Baker (R)





Cahill (I)





Stein (G)










As with the earlier poll, Patrick’s growth seems to be coming at Cahill’s expense.

The RGA has had a sustained, multi-media attack against Cahill for nearly a month. It’s clear he’s paying a price in the polling. Two-thirds (67%) of respondents had seen (or heard) the RGA ads. Of those, 21% said they were more likely to vote for Patrick because of the ads. Only 15% said they were more likely to vote for Baker while 10% said they were more likely to vote for Cahill.

It’s not all good news for the governor. Patrick’s job approval numbers are in negative territory (42% approve, 49% disapprove).  The poll also shows only one-third of Massachusetts voters think he deserves a second term, an encouraging sign for GOP strategists.

But, it’s still too early to tell whether or not Republicans who wanted a two-man contest with the once-embattled governor have misread the Bay State’s political winds.  Can Baker replicate Scott Brown’s surprise victory?  The demographics of a general election are far different than those of a special. There will be more voters going to the polls in November than this past January.

For a Republican to win statewide in this state where the GOP constitutes a small portion of the electorate, they have to win over a large percentage of independents and Baker’s margin over Patrick at this point isn’t nearly enough.

Patrick captured 76 percent of registered Democrats, while Baker won 77 percent of registered Republicans.  Among independents, Baker led Patrick by 35 percent to 26 percent, far less than the 64 percent to 29 percent advantage among independents that Scott Brown had over Martha Coakley in a Jan. 14 Suffolk University/7 News survey.  That survey was the first live telephone poll to show Brown winning.

Thus far, Baker hasn’t caught Brown’s magic.

Categories : Massachusetts, Polls, RGA
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Democrats clearly think they’ve got a winning issue against John Kasich. His tenure at Lehman Brothers continues to be the topic of Buckeye State campaign ads.

This time, it’s Building a Stronger Ohio, a DGA-backed independent expenditure group who asks the viewer a simple question, “Ask John Kasich to explain how he got rich on Wall Street.”

Categories : AdMonitor, Ohio
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In somewhat of a head-scratcher (especially considering recent numbers from Survey USA and PPP showing Whitman maintaining a wide lead in the GOP primary), Rasmussen finds that Steve Poizner is more competitive against Democrat Jerry Brown in a November gubernatorial matchup.

Rasmussen’s numbers (trend from April 21):



45 (44)


43 (50)


41 (38)


42 (32)


8 (9)


7 (10)


7 (9)


8 (8)

It’s been the “accepted wisdom” that Poizner would be the Brown camp’s preferred Republican candidate in the fall, if only for the reason his deep pockets aren’t as deep as Whitman’s. This might put a (slight) damper on that thinking, although it is important to remember this is Rasmussen.

The survey also reveals that the intense, sustained fighting between the two GOP rivals has made both Republicans less popular than the well-known Brown.

Favorable Unfavorable Not sure Net
Whitman 48 47 5 {plus 1}
Brown 53 42 5 {plus 11}
Poizner 48 47 5 {plus 1}
Categories : California, Polls
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Guber Quick Hits, Tues 5/25/10

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Alabama: Ron Sparks is touting an internal poll showing him in a tie with Artur Davis. Public polls have sh0wn him trailing throughout the campaign, although Research 2000 did find the race within single digits. That same poll did reveal Sparks as the stronger general election candidate against the possible Republican candidates.

California: When Steve Poizner is asked, “What can Brown do for you?” he can respond, “Plenty.”

Connecticut: Democrats emerged from their endorsing convention this week naming former Stamford Mayor Dan Malloy the party’s pick over Ned Lamont. The Hartford Courant reports the primary contest has already begun in earnest. Apparently, the candidates left the gathering without speaking to one another.

Florida: Acknowledging the reality that she couldn’t compete with AG Bill McCollum and billionaire Rick Scott’s financial resources, not to mention her lack of traction in polling, state Sen. Paula Dockerydropped her long-shot bid for the GOP gubernatorial nod.

New Mexico: After watching his party’s primary turn into a mudslinging free-for-all between guber wannabes Allen Weh and Susana Martinez, the state GOP chair took the unusual step of calling out Weh for being dishonest in his television ads against Martinez.

Rhode Island: looks at Lincoln Chafee’s chance of becoming the nation’s first independent governor elected since Jesse Ventura a dozen years ago.

South Carolina: While much of the focus in the Palmetto State has been on the salacious “he said, she said” scandal involving Nikki Haley, fellow Republican Gresham Barrett also has a developing scandal of his own. It may not be as sexy, but when politicians receive envelopes stuffed with $84,000 in cash, it’s not something voters look upon all that favorably.

Vermont: The state legislature’s recent vote to approve pursuing (by 122-5) basing F-35 fighter jets at Burlington International Airport could become a campaign issue, if the Progressive Party has anything to say about it. Not surprisingly, they’re opposed. Will they pull any of the four Democrats running for governor to the left?

Wisconsin: Mark Neumann is calling on fellow Republican Scott Walker to reimburse the county the expense of a worker who recently resigned because she was posting political comments while at work.  Walker, who recently returned $43,800 in illegal contributions, isn’t planning on paying, saying he wasn’t aware of the employee’s activities.