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 September, 2010


Guber Quick Hits, Wed 9/29/10

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California: MegaBucks has a new radio ad out in which she’s morphed into a movie critic. She urges every citizen to go see the new documentary “Waiting for Superman,” an intriguing political tactic that could force rival Jerry Brown into the box she wants him in. It’s the one with the Union Label, of course.

Colorado: The implosion that is the Dan Maes candidacy could have long-term repercussions for the state GOP, as a distant third-place finish becomes a distinct possibility.

Florida: Democrat Alex Sink is getting help from an unlikely source. Former Republican guber contender Bill McCollum is defending Sink from GOP nominee Rick Scott’s attacks blaming Sink for mismanaging the state’s investment portfolio during the 2007 stock market crash.

Georgia: Nathan Deal can’t seem to put a lid on the can of worms that his daughter’s financial problems have opened. A federal judge has reopened her 2009 bankruptcy filing because her husband failed to disclose an earlier 2001 bankruptcy that would make him ineligible to discharge his debts. Polls had shown Deal weathering the negative headlines, but he had to be hoping this could fade from the headlines. Doesn’t look like that’ll be the case.

Maine: Even though Paul LePage seems to be cruising to victory in the gubernatorial contest, the Tea Party-induced schism within the state GOP remains. Mark Ellis, who served as state party chair between 2007-2009 has publicly endorsed independent candidate Shawn Moody.

Maryland: There’s one incumbent governor not shunning the leader of the Democratic Party. President Obama has cut a radio ad in support of Martin O’Malley and he’s planning on joining him on the campaign trail in early October.

New Mexico: President Obama’s fall campaign swing brought him to the Land of Enchantment, where Democratic Light Guv Diane Denish didn’t run for cover like some other Democratic candidates have done.

New York: After watching this interview, I’m not sure whether voters will be repelled by Carl Paladino or whether he becomes the perfect receptacle for their boiling anger over the mess in Albany. The one thing I am sure of is the previously-sleepy NY Gov contest will be entertaining.

Oregon: Republican Chris Dudley may be a newcomer to politics but he’s proving to be a prolific fundraiser. He’s now outraised Democratic rival John Kitzhaber by a more than 2-1 margin.

Vermont: Are outside consultants transforming the traditionally placid political climate in bucolic Vermont? Locals are worried the Dubie-Shumlin contest has taken Vermonters down an unwanted path.

Democrat Terry Goddard’s newest TeeVee ad really goes after Gov. Jan Brewer’s connections to the owners of private prisons doing business in the state.

The private prison profiteers have a direct line to “Brewer for Governor,” Goddard’s camp claims in the ad.

Goddard wants to undercut Brewer’s law-and-order creds by linking her to the violent prison break earlier this summer. The story of convicts who went on a deadly rampage across the Interior West garnered national headlines.  Goddard would like it to become a central issue in the governor’s race.

Goddard’s effort might persuade voters who respond to reality-based arguments, but it’s unlikely to convince  voters who have Brewer-induced nightmares of  beheaded bodies littering the Arizona desert and rampaging gangs of illegal immigrants pillaging the cities and towns.

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Democratic Governor Pat Quinn is back on his heels in his bid to win election to the office he inherited from Rod Blagojevich. A confluence of political forces (not the least of which is Blago) and continued economic bad news has put him on the endangered governor’s list.

He’s got a new TeeVee ad (complete with grainy video and ominous music) attacking Republican challenger Bill Brady labeling him a “millionaire politician” who “somehow” hasn’t paid any federal income taxes in recent years.

Quinn faces an angry electorate where being an insider (especially in scandal-weary Illinois) is a huge obstacle. He’s stumbled into one self-induced crisis after another since he assumed office.

It’s unclear whether Quinn can effectively seize the populist mantle, as he’s trying to do in this ad. But, it may be all he’s got this late in the game.

Categories : 100 ADS, AdMonitor, Illinois
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Democrat Vincent Sheheen goes all out in this attack ad on rival Nikki Haley.

Is she an outsider? Or Mark Sanford’s hand-picked successor?

If she’s for transparency, why did she hide $42,000 in consulting fees from her financial disclosure reports?

How can she be a fiscal conservative if she’s advocating a grocery tax?

What kind of an accountant files her personal taxes late for five straight years?

All of that squeezed into 30 seconds. Ouch.

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Accidental Governor Jan Brewer’s abysmal and uncomfortable to watch debate performance from a few weeks ago has now become a series of campaign ads for Democratic challenger AG Terry Goddard.

“Is this the best Arizona can do?” is a powerful tag line that undermines Brewer’s claims to competent leadership. The ads use tape of Brewer mumbling incoherently interspersed into a narrative about the real problems facing Arizona.

The governor’s own words make her look clueless.

Two of the ads take on issues Brewer has made the foundation of her campaign – security and the economy (and smartly avoids the red-hot immigration issue that has propelled Brewer to national prominence.) The third ad takes on her ‘mis-statement’ about beheadings in the desert.

In the security ad, Goddard’s camp highlights the recent prison break from a private prison in Arizona and the links between Brewer’s campaign and the private prison industry. Simply because Jan Brewer says you’re safer doesn’t make it so.

On the economic ad, Brewer is left speechless in response to a litany of bad economic news. It challenges her debate assertion that “Arizona has been brought back from the abyss” and wonders what it is that Jan has done.

“We have, uhm, did what was right for Arizona,” simply doesn’t cut it.

And about that little white lie about the beheadings besieging the state? Goddard’s campaign can’t resist. Nor should they.

Categories : AdMonitor, Arizona
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Guber Quick Hits, TGIF 9/17/10

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Alaska: Sarah Palin may find it less expensive to go moose hunting if Democrat Ethan Berkowitz becomes Alaska’s next governor. He’s proposing allowing Alaskans to buy lifetime hunting and fishing licenses.

Illinois: Former GOP Gov. Jim Edgar (who hasn’t always had kind words for his party’s current guber pick, Bill Brady) is planning on endorsing Brady against Democrat Pat Quinn.

Kansas: Following a rather informal debate in front of a live audience at the Kansas State Fair between Democrat Tom Holland and Republican Sen. Sam Brownback, it doesn’t seem another debate is in the cards.

Maryland: In a post-primary radio interview, GOP nominee Bob Ehrlich was less-than-gracious in his efforts to unify his base. Will his failure to acknowledge Tea Party fave Brian Murphy as an up-and-comer in the state GOP hurt him among the conservative base in November?

New York: Guber nominee Andrew Cuomo is one of the only Democrats who seems to be in cruise control for the general election. Despite being the heavy favorite, all is not calm in Gotham, as Cuomo is expressing some discomfort over his Democratic colleagues running for comptroller and attorney general.

Rhode Island: Frank Caprio continues his slide toward the right. He’s come out in support of extending all of the Bush tax cuts set to expire, regardless of income.

Tennessee: What would Tennessee politics be without a little Basil for flavor? We don’t have to find out because Basil Marceaux is running as a write-in!

Texas: Rick Perry – that fearless hunter of suburban coyotes – has been endorsed by the NRA.

Wisconsin: Badger State Republicans have fielded the largest field of candidates for the General Assembly in a generation. They’re contesting in 85 of 99 districts, the most since 1986.


NY: What’s that Smell?

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Tea Party UpState upstart Carl Paladino shocked the GOP establishment this past Tuesday by trouncing Rick Lazio in the guber primary. He tapped into an anger at the GOP establishment. Now, he’s targeting the dysfunctional Albany statehouse in a creative, memorable way.

He’s sending out 180,000 mailers that smell like trash.

The mail piece features the faces of seven Democrats who have been caught up in scandal in recent years. Never mind that some of the faces pictured are no longer in Albany (Eliot Spitzer) or aren’t in state government (Charlie Rangel), the headline on the piece screams, “Something STINKS in Albany”

Republican gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino's campaign sent out 180,000 of these foul-scented mailers in the days leading up to the September 14th primary. (Photographer:  Joh Ficurilli)

Categories : New York, Tea Party
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Guber Quick Hits, Thurs 9/16/10

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Arkansas: Democratic incumbent Mike Beebe’s campaign has been endorsed by 73 of Arkansas’ 75 sheriffs.

California: Today marks the day the Golden State’s budget impasses moves into record-setting territory, as it surpasses the previous record set in 2008. To mark the occasion, Democratic guber wannabe Jerry Brown unveiled a proposal that would start next year’s budget plan from scratch. Is “zero-based budgeting” workable or simply an election year gimmick?

Florida: Rick Scott has made it clear he’s opposed to Obama’s stimulus spending, arguing during the guber primary that he would “fight all the stimulus money.” It’s somewhat awkward, then, that a firm he’s heavily invested in just received $36.1 million in Recovery Act funding to build a fiber-optic network in rural Louisiana.

Iowa: Hawkeye State Dems are hoping to use Sarah Palin’s upcoming visit to rally the base.

Iowa II: A piece of information that seems to be counterintuitive to the prevailing political narrative over the GOP’s huge enthusiasm gap. Democratic requests for absentee ballots in Iowa outnumber Republicans by nearly 3-1.

Nebraska: Democrat Mike Meister is trying to make the placement of TransCanada’s proposed oil pipeline across the Ogallala Aquifer an issue in his campaign against Gov. Dave Heineman. Meister says running it across the aquifer is too risky while Heineman says he isn’t focused on the issue.

Nevada: Rory (the younger) Reid has indicated he would sign a state budget that included tax increases, if it came across his desk. This represents a significant shift in the tax-averse Silver State, where candidates of all ideological stripes adhere to a no new tax mantra. With Rory trailing Republican Brian Sandoval badly in every public poll, is this shift a profile in courage or an act of political desperation?

New Mexico: Bill Clinton is doing yeoman’s work this campaign season. He’ll be joining Diane Denish on the trail next month.

Oregon: After falling far behind Republican Chris Dudley in the race for big campaign checks, Democrat John Kitzhaber has begun raking in donations from the state’s unions.

Vermont: After the drawn-out Democratic primary, it’s probably not all that surprising Peter Shumlin has less money in the bank than Lt. Gov Brian Dubie, who had no opposition in the GOP primary. But his $62,000 is a lot less than the $410,000 Dubie’s got in his warchest.

Wisconsin: Mark Neumann won more counties than Scott Walker in Tuesday’s GOP primary, but he lost overall because Walker dominated him in the populous suburban Milwaukee counties, a region that has become the key for Republican victories in the Badger State.


ME: A Candidate Melt-Down

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It’s pretty safe to say that this response to a reporter’s legitimate question isn’t well advised.

A week ago, Republican guber nominee Paul LePage was riding high following a Public Policy Polling survey showing him with a surprising 14-point lead over Democrat Libby Mitchell. It will be interesting to see how his reaction to the press questioning his family’s taxes (did his wife establish Florida residency to avoid Maine taxes?) is received by Mainers.

Categories : Maine
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Except Bob Ehrlich, who wants voters to believe there’s “a lot of difference between a fee and a tax.”

Most people see through that claim. And they also know that when a fee goes up, that’s the same as raising taxes.

In tight economic times with family budgets getting squeezed, most people are simply frustrated with higher fees and declining services.

Martin O’Malley has found an Ehrlich weakness and has teed up a powerful television spot exposing Ehrlich’s political doublespeak.

Categories : 100 ADS, AdMonitor, Maryland
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