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 2012 Sweepstakes


Guber Quick Hits, 2/3/11

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California: Gov. Jerry Brown’s strategists are considering pursuing holding his proposed special election to extend taxes exclusively by mail. It’s not clear whether ‘going postal’ would help or hurt the chances of winning.

Florida: Politico writes about Gov. Rick Scott’s desire to muzzle the media.

Iowa: Of the nine finalists nominated to fill the three Supreme Court vacancies, one donated to Gov. Terry Branstad’s winning campaign while another made a contribution to Chet Culver.

New Jersey: Gov. Chris Christie, the darling of small government tea partiers, has signed two bills that “increase his dominion” over recession-ravaged Atlantic City.

Texas: Gov. Rick Perry is delivering the keynote address at next week’s CPAC gathering.

Texas II: Could the budget hole be so deep that it threatens funding for high school football?

Virginia: Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has requested an expedited Supreme Court review of Virginia’s challenge to the federal health care law. Since most legal observers expect a denial from the high court, you have to wonder about Cuccinelli’s motivation. Keeping his name in the headlines on this issue positions him as the GOP front-runner for the 2013 gubernatorial race.

Wisconsin: Gov. Scott Walker declared a state of emergency due to the blizzard yesterday, urging motorists to stay off the roads and closed state offices to the public, but then told state workers they had to come to work or take a vacation day.

And from beyond the StateHouses:

Are we heading for a fourth wave election? One prognosticator thinks the Dems may be able to catch a wave in 2012.

With the Census Bureau reporting that racial minorities accounted for 85% of the nation’s population growth over the past decade, Latino activists expect “a minimum of nine additional Latino-majority House seats” when redistricting is said and done.

Is there room for two Mormons in the 2012 GOP presidential primary?


Guber Quick Hits, TGIF 9/10/10

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Arizona: One of the conditions for qualifying for Clean Elections campaign financing under Arizona law is participating in a Clean Elections-sponsored debate. After showing up (at least in body) and receiving her $1.7 million-plus check, Gov. Jan Brewer has decided she can’t risk this again. Turns out there are a lot of other GOP candidates following Brewer’s lead.

California: As the Golden State’s annual budget delay dance stretches toward record-setting territory, the state Controller has announced the state won’t have to start issuing IOUs until early October, which is later than previous estimates. Not sure if this is good news or bad news, as some observers believe IOUs would’ve stepped up the pressure on the legislature to finally get a deal done.

Colorado: The sinking ship that is GOP guber nominee Dan Maes’ campaign lost another deckhand this week when the volunteer campaign treasurer- who had been on board for just three weeks – resigned. The official reason Bob Balink jumped ship was because the commute was too long.

Connecticut: Mitt Romney joined fellow millionaire Tom Foley on the campaign trail in tony Greenwich.

Hawaii: The largest public worker union in the state is trying to explain the controversial decision to back Mufi Hannemann over Neil Abercrombie in the Democratic guber primary.

Massachusetts: A ‘furious exchange’ over the state’s role in rescuing health insurance company Pilgrim Health exploded during this week’s gubernatorial debate. Gov. Deval Patrick asserted that Baker – who ran Pilgrim at the time – was rescued thanks to state aid. Baker denied the governor’s version of history. Turns out it depends on what you mean by state aid. According to a local taxpayer watchdog group, no taxpayer money was used in reversing the fortunes of the health insurer, but the state did play a central role in helping make sure the company didn’t fail.

Pennsylvania: The Republican Governor’s Association moved $1.5 million from its Wisconsin PAC to its Pennsylvania PAC in July. It’s an intriguing move, considering both seats are widely viewed as strong pick-up opportunities for the GOP.

Rhode Island: Could news that Democratic guber wannabe Frank Caprio contemplated switching parties last winter as he prepared for his campaign push Democratic voters into independent Linc Chafee’s camp come this November?

Texas: Despite numerous denials he’s got his eyes on the White House, Gov. Rick Perry’s new book Fed Up!: Our Fight to Save America from Washington will be published right after the midterm elections (and Perry hopes his own record-setting reelection).

Vermont: The Democratic Party has filed a campaign finance complaint against Brian Dubie and the RGA, claiming they illegally coordinated to create a television ad supporting Dubie’s gubernatorial campaign.

Politico is reporting on Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour’s candid comments about how RNC Chairman Michael Steele’s financial failings have put the pressure on the RGA to step in and fund GOTV, direct mail and robocalling functions traditionally paid for by the RNC.

At a press breakfast in DC this morning he put a $10 million price tag on Steele’s mismanagement.

“It appears the RNC won’t be able to put as much money into state party get-out-the-vote operations as they have in the past,” said the Mississippi governor, trying to put a delicate spin on what is perhaps the most glaring Republican challenge heading into the midterm elections.  “Yes, we have taken that into consideration to try to be sure that we have a good ground in game in the states where we think it matters, which is everywhere.”

Thank goodness (from Haley’s perspective) that he’s got Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes willing to pony up unprecedented sums. As he ponders making a 2012 presidential run, it doesn’t hurt Haley to be a gubernatorial kingmaker during these critical elections. The chits he’s collecting now may come in very handy in the very near future.

Categories : 2012 Sweepstakes, RGA
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Guber Quick Hits, Sat 9/4/10

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Alaska: The Alaska Independence Party, which got a lot of exposure when Sarah and Todd first burst onto the political scene (remember their calls for Alaskan secession?) – is mulling over whether to endorse Republican Bill Walker as their gubernatorial candidate.

Colorado: Fellow Tea Party favorite GOP Senate nominee Ken Buck is the latest Republican to abandon the sinking ship that is Dan Maes’ gubernatorial campaign.

Florida: The national governors’ groups are going all in in the Sunshine State. The Fox News-backed RGA has announced it’s sending $2 million as part of the party’s efforts to unify after the bruising Bill McCollum/Rick Scott primary brawl. The DGA has answered with a pledge of $1 million to support Alex Sink’s candidacy.

Iowa: Could DeCoster’s rotten eggs destroy Democratic chances in the Hawkeye State this November?

Maryland: Underdog Brian Murphy certainly knows his target audience as he runs his bare-bones, long shot primary challenge to Bob Ehrlich. His first (and likely only) television ad is airing during Glenn Beck’s 5 o’clock happy hour on Fox News.

Maryland II: It may be a function of high name ID for both presumed guber nominees or it may be the expense of going up on TeeVee in the DC media market, but both Martin O’Malley and Bob Ehrlich have both yet to pull the trigger and begin advertising in the vote-rich DC suburbs.

Massachusetts: After trailing both his opponents in the money race throughout the campaign, Gov. Deval Patrick seriously picked up the pace in August.

Minnesota: Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal will be helping GOP guber nominee Tom Emmer raise money. Considered a potential 2012 GOP presidential candidate, Jindal’s trip north brings him into the territory of another (more) likely presidential contender, MN Gov. Tim Pawlenty.

New Mexico: The sudden resignation of the chairman of the Educational Retirement Board over a controversial loan has sparked accusations over public ethics between the gubernatorial campaigns. Democrat Diane Denish – who has spent a lot of time trying to separate herself from Gov. Bill Richardson and the ethical troubles surrounding his Santa Fe political cadre – has already donated personal contributions from the disgraced Richardson appointee to a non-profit that supports early-childhood education professionals (although she’s keeping donations from his law firm).

Oregon: Political observers are beginning to ponder the possibility that Oregon voters may not get a debate between gubernatorial hopefuls John Kitzhaber and Chris Dudley.

South Carolina: Nikki Haley – former GOP golden boy Mark Sanford’s protege is trying to differentiate herself from how Sanford governs and is pointing out decisions he’s made with which she disagrees. Sanford has had a rocky relationship with the Republican legislature and many in the party establishment have been hesitant to embrace Haley because they fear a similarly antagonistic relationship. To ease those worries, Haley is promising to work with the legislative branch – and will defer to the lawmakers on the creation of the state budget.


Guber Quick Hits, Mon 8/23/10

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California: Elections have consequences. Meg Whitman has promised she will pursue the appeal of federal judge Vaughn Ward’s decision declaring Prop 8 unconstitutional.  Both current Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Democratic guber nominee (and current AG) Jerry Brown have refused to pursue an appeal and support the resumption of same-sex marriages.

Georgia: All is forgiven, apparently. The Georgia Association of Educators has endorsed former Gov. Roy Barnes’ campaign. Barnes was dumped from office in 2002 when teachers across the state abandoned him after he attempted reform that was wildly unpopular with them.

Illinois: Another departure for Pat Quinn’s struggling campaign. The other day, it was the Accidental Governor’s media firm. Today, it’s his chief of staff, who resigned after ethics questions were raised about political emails coming from his government account.

Maryland: It looks like there are limits to Sarah Palin’s magic. In deepest blue Maryland, even GOP primary voters don’t seem to be responding to her surprising guber endorsement.

Michigan: Mitt Romney endorsed GOP nominee Rick Snyder’s guber effort. The former (and future?) presidential hopeful had backed the wrong horse (Pete Hoekstra) in the GOP primary. As one of his (many) home states, having an ally in the governorship in Michigan could prove critical to Romney’s hopes of winning the 2012 GOP presidential sweepstakes.

Minnesota: Could Emmer marginalize himself? As the state most recently governed by a third party candidate (remember Jesse Ventura?), third party candidates for governor receive much more media attention (and voter support) than in many other states. This past Thursday, DFL nominee Mark Dayton and Independence Party nominee Tom Horner met in their first one-on-one guber debate. Emmer was off raising money. By ceding the stage to the two, does Emmer elevate Horner (a former moderate Republican) in the eyes of Minnesota voters? As Emmer and figures like Michele Bachmann pull their party to the fringe, could Horner become a more viable alternative for some disaffected voters?

Pennsylvania: Tea Party fave Sam Rohrer was easily defeated in May’s GOP guber primary by AG Tom Corbett but that isn’t stopping Rohrer’s supporters from launching a write-in campaign.


Guber Quick Hits, Wed 8/18/10

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Florida: The GOP establishment continues to rally to Bill McCollum’s defense, as Mike Huckabee becomes the latest GOP powerbroker to endorse the embattled candidate.

Massachusetts: GOP guber wannabe Charlie Baker is taken to task over his failure to denounce GOP candidates aligned with the ‘birther’ movement.

Minnesota: The national media has obsessed on stories about Democratic candidates shunning the president when he visits (Roy Barnes in Georgia, Bill White in Texas) and downplayed stories about local candidates like DFL guber nominee Mark Dayton wanting the president to campaign with them.

Pennsylvania: Keystone State Republicans successfully knocked Tea Party guber wannabe John Krupa from the November ballot but the Libertarian hopeful says she’s confident she can withstand the GOP’s signature challenge.

Tennessee: GOP guber nominee Bill Haslam may be getting the NASCAR vote (weren’t NASCAR dads a cherished demographic in a recent election cycle?) as he picked up the endorsement of NASCAR legend Darrell Waltrip.

Vermont: Progressives have been blamed for handing Republican candidates the governorship in recent elections. A group of leading Progressives have publicly endorsed the candidacy of Democrat Doug Racine.

At one point during this election cycle, it seemed that Sarah Palin was the GOP’s Queen Bee.  Her blessing was capable of turning an also ran into a formidable front-runner. After Nikki Haley’s meteoric rise in South Carolina, Palin was widely credited in the national media for her come-from-behind victory over a crowded field of career politicians.

The Mama Mama Grizzly was on a roll.

But after two straight Tuesdays and two disappointing losses for Sarah Palin’s pack of Mama Grizzlys, I got to wondering what’s changed. Last week it was Karen Handel’s narrow loss to ethically-challenged former Congressman Nathan Deal in the Georgia GOP guber runoff. Last night, it was Rita Meyer falling in a razor-thin loss to Matt Mead in Wyoming.

It’s not just the primary losses. The Manchester Union Leader - the conservative newspaper of record in New Hampshire – took Palin to task for meddling in the Granite State’s closely contested US Senate primary. In Georgia, the state GOP establishment rallied against Palin as a huge bloc of the state legislature rallied to Deal’s side during the runoff campaign.

Did Sarah lose her Midas touch?

Or did GOP primary voters read those polls that showed Palin as a drag on a nominee in a general election matchup? In Georgia, did voters (following the lead of their elected leaders) look ahead to a formidable opponent in former Gov. Roy Barnes and fear a Palin-backed Handel being brought down by the association?

In Wyoming, where nearly everyone agrees last night’s GOP primary was the real gubernatorial contest, did Meyer lose because Dems crossed over and voted against Palin?

Just wondering.


Guber Quick Hits, TGIF 8/13/10

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Alaska: Citing the tragic death of former Sen. Ted Stevens in a plane crash along Alaska’s southwest coast, Gov. Sean Parnell suspended his campaign activity. As a result, the Commonwealth North sponsored GOP gubernatorial debate between Parnell, Bill Walker and Ralph Samuels has postponed until August 23rd, the day before the primary election.

Florida: The GOP primary fight between Bill McCollum and Rick Scott has gotten so personal that McCollum is publicly doubting whether or not he would support Scott if he wins the nomination.

Georgia: Mike Huckabee is taking (at least partial) credit for Nathan Deal’s razor-thin victory in the GOP runoff over Sarah Palin’s Peach State Mama Grizzly, Karen Handel.

Massachusetts: Former GOP guber wannabe Chrisy Mihos has been fined a ‘whopping’ seventy grand for repeated campaign violations. It’s the highest such fine in Bay State history.

Nevada: What constitutes a formal debate? In GOP guber wannabe Brian Sandoval’s world answering three impromptu questions from your rival counts.

New York: Look for the Union Label ~ the Democratic gubernatorial ticket of Andrew Cuomo and Bob Duffy keeps racking up the labor endorsements.

Oregon: Republican Chris Dudley accepted his first debate, but there’s one catch – it’s not one of the seven proposed by Democrat John Kitzhaber.

Wyoming: Colin Simpson – the scion of a Wyoming Republican political dynasty - picked up the support of another GOP political dynasty’s patriarch, George H. W. Bush.


AL: Who Wudda Thunk?

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We’ve got a guber matchup down in Alabama few saw coming. In June the conventional wisdom had Rep. Artur Davis easily defeating Agriculture commisioner Ron Sparks. But Davis, who was attempting to make history as the Deep South’s first African American governor was dispatched rather easily by Sparks.

On Tuesday, Dr. Robert Bentley, who few predicted would even finish in the top three in the crowded GOP primary, convincingly defeated establishment favorite Bradley Byrne with 56% of the run-off vote.

Bentley’s victory got quite a bit of help from the AEA, the state’s powerful teachers union, which spent millions on commercials attacking Byrne, who had made diminishing the AEA’s influence a central theme of his campaign.

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IA: The GOP’s Uncivil Union

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This certainly wasn’t what Republican Terry Branstad hoped would happen when he picked Kim Reynolds as his Light Guv dance partner.

Republican lieutenant governor nominee Kim Reynolds saying Tuesday that she would be open to legalized civil unions for gay couples has drawn the ire of the very people she was sent out to court — evangelical voters.

Brought onto the campaign to bridge the schism between the GOP’s evangelical base and moderate establishment, Reynolds instead fell into the chasm and doesn’t seem to be able to crawl her way out from it. The social conservatives aren’t letting up in their public attacks on the Branstad/Reynolds ticket:

“It’s consistent with what we’ve seen out of the Branstad campaign all along,” Bryan English, a spokesman for the Iowa Family Policy Center, told the Quad-City Times’ Ed Tibbetts. “They’ve just failed to understand or adequately articulate the gravity of the issues they’re talking about.”

The IFPC endorsed Vander Plaats in the primary and has refused to endorse or assist Branstad in the fall campaign, primary due to his stance on social issues like same-sex marriage.

Continuing his line of attack from Wednesday, Christian radio host and Vander Plaats supporter Steve Deace said Thursday on his WHO-AM show that Reynolds’ answers show she’s a candidate of “positions and not convictions.” He called the interview a “complete meltdown.”

“And by the way, her positions are pretty good,” Deace said. “Her record in the state senate, private property rights aside, is pretty good. But the first time her worldview is challenged, and she has to go toe-to-toe with someone who has thought about their worldview but just came to a different conclusion, she does not have the moral conviction to withstand that scrutiny. And if you watch that video, she falls apart.”

The unanswered question at this point is whether this will entice Bob Vander Plaats to consider following through on his threat to launch an independent gubernatorial bid? An even larger question, how would national Republicans, especially those with 2012 presidential aspirations, react to a Vander Plaats candidacy?

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