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 Arkansas


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.


Guber Quick Hits, Sun 9/12/10

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Alabama: Bradley Byrne – who at one point was the odds-on favorite to win the GOP guber primary before he was upset by Robert Bentley in a run-off – has become a partner at a law firm that he had come under fire for hiring while he served as Alabama’s two-year college Chancellor. He had been criticized over the $102, 395 the firm was paid to seek federal grants because the firm failed to land a single grant.

Arkansas: Gov. Mike Beebe is hosting a private fundraiser today with a roster of pro athletes with Arkansas ties, including LA Angels outfielder Tori Hunter and Atlanta Hawks Joe Johnston.

California: Meg Whitman is using a clip of former President Bill Clinton from a 1992 Democratic presidential debate in which candidate Clinton attacked rival Jerry Brown for raising taxes during his gubernatorial tenure. Despite the fact the state of California has declared Clinton’s statement untrue, Whitman’s camp won’t stop airing the ad.

Florida: Does Gov. Charlie Crist need Alex Sink to pull him to victory?

Kansas: From the “this isn’t a surprise file” – the largest government workers union in Kansas has endorsed Democrat Tom Holland’s guber run against Sen. Sam Brownback.

Maryland: The 2010 elections marked the debut of early voting in the Free State – and it was far from a resounding success. Less than 2% of the state’s eligible primary voters cast ballots during the early voting period.

Oregon: GOP guber nominee Chris Dudley is facing questions about whether he dodged Oregon income taxes during the 1990s when he played for the NBA’s Trail Blazers.

Pennsylvania: Democrat Dan Onorato is pushing for a state tax on the extraction of natural gas from Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale. He says Republican rival Tom Corbett’s opposition to the tax (and its much-needed revenue to help balance the budget) is because Corbett is doing the bidding of his energy industry backers.

South Carolina: Nikki Haley’s accounting skills – one of the foundations of her candidacy – continue to be called into question.

Utah: Democratic challenger Peter Corroon is accusing Gov. Gary Herbert of favoring big political donors in appointments and awarding of state contracts.


Guber Quick Hits, Tues 8/31/10

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Arkansas: Wealthy businessman (and GOP guber wannabe) Jim Keet has been dodged over the past week by tax questions. Among other offenses, he admitted to taking a property exemption to which he wasn’t entitled. But perhaps his biggest offense wasn’t the avoidance of taxes, but the way he blamed everyone else – including his wife – for the mistakes.

California: Now that she’s actually registered to vote, MegaBucks Whitman found herself in the Redwood City jury pool and spent Monday afternoon as a potential juror. I wasn’t aware that royalty were required to dirty themselves with such proletarian tasks.

Idaho: Incumbent Gov. Butch Otter is hammering Democratic challenger Keith Allred’s lack of government experience, despite the national anti-insider political climate.

Nebraska: Anne Boyle – a longtime stalwart of Nebraska Democratic politics (a dying breed, perhaps?) – has joined the Democratic gubernatorial ticket as Mike Meister’s Light Guv dance partner and she’s come out swinging at Gov. Dave Heineman as a bully who has threatened to punish people who don’t support his political agenda.

Rhode Island: A cornerstone of Republican Victor Moffitt’s guber bid is a proposal to build a half-billion dollar aquarium in the Ocean State.

South Carolina: Republican Nikki Haley received the endorsement of the Gun Owners of America in her guber race against Vincent Sheheen.

Texas: More evidence that the GOP is using immigration as a mid-term election issue to mobilize the base – after the White House said President Obama wouldn’t be available to meet with Gov. Rick Perry one-on-one to discuss border security issues, the governor declined an offer to meet with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and the White House’s top border security adviser to discuss border security concerns. It’s easier to grandstand and score political points than it is to sit down and work on solutions, I guess.

Utah: In Mormon-dominated Utah, Democratic guber wannabe Peter Corroon’s Light Guv running mate Sheryl Allen – a Republican and a Mormon - is accusing fellow Mormon Gov. Gary Herbert of using religion as a wedge issue in the gubernatorial race against Corroon, a Catholic.


Guber Quick Hits, Thurs 8/19/10

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Arkansas: Republican guber wannabe Jim Keet raised a paltry $33K in July while incumbent Democratic Gov Mike Beebe raised $333K.

Colorado: Despite pressure from the GOP establishment to quit the guber contest, Dan “Middle Manager” Maes is staying put. He’s picked his Light Guv dance partner, former state legislator Tambor Williams.

New Mexico: Earlier this year, Diane Denish attacked GOP rival Susana Martinez  for plea bargaining with sex offenders. Now that a Democratic DA appears to have made a similar deal, Denish refuses to comment.

Oklahoma: Mary Fallin has a substantial fundraising lead over her Democratic rival Jari Askins. Nearly a third of the money Askins has raised has come from her own pocket.


Pollapalooza Thursday

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Arkansas: A poll from Razzmattaz Reports shows a much closer race than the conventional wisdom anticipates for incumbent Democrat Mike Beebe. They’ve got little-known restauranteur Jim Keet within 10 points of the popular Democrat, at 50-40%. Before dismissing this poll, it should be noted this is the second public poll showing Beebe falling to the 50% threshold. Could the Democratic brand be dragging him down? (Polling conducted 7/20, 500 AR likely voters, Moe +/- 4.5%)

Florida: Public Policy Polling has Democrat Alex Sink ahead of both potential Republican candidates, Bill McCollum and Rick Scott. She leads the former congresscritter (and Clinton impeachment manager) McCollum, 37-23% and the former healthcare executive Scott, 36-30%. Former Democrat Bud Chiles, whose independent candidacy could pose a problem for Sink, is currently polling in the mid-teens. (Polling conducted 7/16-18, 900 FL voters, MoE +/- 3.26%)

The Democrat’s lead may be more a function of the Republicans sinking rather than Sink rising. The intense, negative campaign being waged on Sunshine State television has seriously weakened both GOP candidates. Of the four candidates, only Sink boasts a net positive favorability rating. From PPP’s press release:

The Republican primary battle is taking its toll on both McCollum and Scott. Both candidates are undoubtedly better known than Sink, but it is not necessarily in their favor. 41% of Florida voters have an unfavorable opinion of Scott and 51% have an unfavorable opinion of McCollum.

Georgia: The busiest pollster in America has a quick look at the potential Georgia gubernatorial matchups. Only 24 hours after the primary ended (and the GOP run-off began), RazzleDazzle Reports that former congresscritter Nathan Deal is the stronger Republican against Democratic nominee Roy Barnes. Deal leads Barnes 49-43% while Karen Handel and Barnes are essentially tied, at 45-44%. (Polling conducted 7/21, 500 GA likely voters, MoE +/- 4.5%)

Idaho: Could Republican incumbent Butch Otter actually face a serious challenge from Democrat Keith Allred? Razzmattaz Reports – essentially the only polling outfit looking at the race in scarlet red Idaho – shows Allred creeping up on Otter. Two months ago he trailed by 22 points. He’s shaved 5 points off that deficit and now trails 53-37%. It’s also important to note that Allred has actually been outraising Otter. (Polling conducted 7/15, 500  ID likely voters, Moe +/- 4.5%)

Nevada: Will the son be paying for the sins of the father? It appears that while Reid the Elder may survive to serve another term in the US Senate, his kid Rory will be the Reid Silver State voters punish at the polls this November. PPP has dismal numbers for Reid the Younger in his gubernatorial contest against former federal judge Brian Sandoval, 52-38%. (Polling conducted 7/16-18, 630 NV voters, MoE +/- 3.9%)

New York: Andrew Cuomo continues to be the safest bet for Democrats as they look toward the 2010 elections. A survey from RazzleDazzle Reports shows Cuomo holding a better than two-to-one advantage over both Rick Lazio and Carl Paladino. Cuomo, a well-known quantity in the Empire State remains astonishingly popular in a year where politicians of all stripes are targets of voter rage. He’s sporting a 64-33% favorable/unfavorable number. (Polling conducted 7/20, 500 NY likely voters, MoE +/- 4.5%)


Guber Quick Hits, TGIF 7/16/10

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Alabama: Defeated Dem guber wannabe (and soon to be former congresscritter) Artur Davis is praising GOP nominee Robert Bentley. Looks like he was serious about getting out of politics for good.

Arkansas: Incumbent Gov. Mike Beebe is the only Democrat cruising to re-election this November. He’s ahead in the polls and most of the media focus in the state has been on the US Senate race. He’s also got $2.7 million in the bank to fend off his Republican challenger Jim Keet.

Georgia: According to a new Mason Dixon poll, 50% of Georgians are willing to pay higher taxes to fund schools. Where is all that anti-tax fervor the media keeps telling us about?

Illinois: Gov. Pat Quinn is rolling back raises for senior staff after taking a beating from opponent Bill Brady over the issue.

Maine: The mystery about who was behind the primary eve robo-calls attacking eventual GOP winner Paul LePage has been solved.

New Hampshire: Anti-gay marriage activists brought their national bus tour to the Granite State, protesting Gov. John Lynch’s decision to sign marriage equality legislation last year. They’re hoping their chants of “Lynch Lied” can undercut the incumbent’s quest for an unprecedented fourth term.

Pennsylvania: Dan Onorato is slamming “Clueless Tom Corbett” at a new website ridiculing the Republican for his comments saying the long-term unemployed don’t want to work.

Vermont: Republican Lt. Gov Brian Dubie has the GOP primary field to himself and he’s taken the opportunity to stake out a significant fundraising lead over the five Democrats jostling for their party’s guber nod.

Wisconsin: Democrat Tom Barrett has over $2.9 million in the bank for his gubernatorial campaign. He’s going to need it, if a recent Badger Poll is accurate. He trails either of his potential GOP rivals by double digits, although huge numbers of voters remain undecided.


Guber Quick Hits, TGIF 6/18/10

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Arkansas: Republican guber wannabe Jim Keet is trying to make his campaign against incumbent Mike Beebe a referendum on President Obama. In a radio ad, he calls the governor Obama’s “silent partner” who has refused to oppose the president even when his policies hurt the Arkansas economy.

Maryland: Bob Ehrlich will soon leave his controversial Saturday morning call-in radio gig, but he’s found an able (and supportive) replacement – his wife Kendall.

Maryland II: Republicans preach the mantra of “local control” until they don’t like the decisions made locally. Bob Ehrlich wants to create a system where local school boards could be overruled if they reject charter school applications.

Nevada: Democratic guber wannabe Rory Reid thinks the state’s education system can be adequately funded without raising taxes. The leaders of the state’s teachers unions disagree.

New York: Carl Paladino is using a web poll to determine the name of his third party effort he wants to add to New York’s ballot. It’s a brilliant way to build his list – and identify people who may be willing to provide the signatures necessary to get his party on the ballot.

Oklahoma: Mary Fallin has been added to Sarah Palin’s list of “mama grizzlies.

Tennessee: Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam has raised $8 million for his guber bid, far out-pacing all other contenders.

Wisconsin: A coalition of Badger State Tea Party groups will not endorse either Republican guber candidate until after their Tea Party debate, scheduled for August 29th. Both Mark Neumann and Scott Walker plan to show up and beg for the nod.


Guber Quick Hits, Thurs 6/17/10

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Alabama: Two former Robert Bentley campaign staffers who were ousted following their candidate’s surprise second-place finish in the GOP guber primary(and entry into a run-off with Bradley Byrne) are airing their frustrations publicly. Replaced by new hires with connections to Mike Huckabee wanted to ”express their principled con­cern that the Bentley campaign may be unduly influenced by forces outside Alabama — forces that do not necessarily have Dr. Bentley’s or Alabama’s best interests at heart.

Arkansas: Mike Beebe, who just might be the most secure incumbent governor in the nation facing reelection this year, isn’t taking any chances. He’s amassed a huge campaign warchest totaling $2.3 million after raising over $500K in May.

Georgia: The Georgia Association of Educators has decided to not make an endorsement in the Democratic gubernatorial contest. It’s a repudiation of front-runner Roy Barnes who has been trying to apologize to the state’s teachers since he launched his effort to regain his old office. Barnes’ surprise defeat to Sonny Perdue in 2002 was fueled in large part by the defection of educators from the Democratic base after Barnes tried to push through education reform unpopular with the teachers unions.

Maine: The wide open race for the Blaine House not only drew a sizable crowd of contenders, it’s already broken the record for most expensive gubernatorial contest in Maine history. Over $7.5 million has been spent by guber hopefuls in the primary, which is closing in on the total $8.6 million spent on the entire 2002 and 2006 contests combined.

Maine II: A week after primary day, all six vanquished GOP candidates came together on the footsteps of Waterville’s City Hall and pledged their support for party nominee Paul LePage.

Minnesota: As noted yesterday, the state’s AFL-CIO held a meeting Wednesday to discuss an endorsement in the guber contest. After “spirited debate” the organization which represents 300,000 workers in the state surprised observers by NOT endorsing any candidate at this point.

South Carolina: Former first lady Jenny Sanford will be campaigning alongside Nikki Haley in the closing days before next Tuesday’s GOP gubernatorial run-off against Rep. Gresham Barrett. Also tagging along with his 2012 dreams in tow – Mitt Romney.

Tennessee: At a recent forum all four guber hopefuls, including lone Democrat Mike McWherter, vowed to reduce the financial burden federal health care legislation will impose on the state if elected governor.

After the most intense day of voting since November 2008, Americans in Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Arkansas, Oregon and Arizona cast their votes providing insight into whether the narratives created by the chattering classes will ring true come November. Are the Republicans riding a wave of voter discontent that could oust Nancy Pelosi from the Speakership?  Are both parties lurching away from the moderate middle?  Will Dems fall to insurgencies from the Left while Republicans drown in a Tea Party-inspired tidal wave from the “libertarian” right?

As usual, the punditocracy’s wisdom, conventional or otherwise, needs a morning after reality check. After all the commentators have had their say, what was it the voters meant, if anything?


In my opinion, the margins of victory racked up by Tea Party candidate Rand Paul and by Democrat Mark Critz in the special to replace John Murtha were the two most important indicators of what might be ahead in November. Both of those results have to be stomach-churning for the DC Republican establishment.

Paul’s clear victory is going to be trumpeted by the Tea Party and the punditocracy alike as evidence of the power of the anger brewing in the electorate. At least one conservative power-broker, direct mail guru Richard Viguerie has already called the Kentucky result a “vote of no confidence” in McConnell and urged the minority leader to resign his leadership post.

How is Merry Mitch going to handle Rand Paul as his potential junior partner?  If he thought Jim Bunning was a headache he must be dreading the possible arrival of Paul. I wonder if he’s having secret thoughts about Conway winning in November?

The NRCC, who failed to win PA-12, the only Kerry-McCain district in America (this is the lowest-hanging fruit on the tree, boys and girls) must be realizing a Speaker Boehner is not going to be as easy as they thought when the week started. They can’t even win an open seat that’s been trending GOP over the past two pro-Democratic elections. How will they be able to knock off enough incumbents (in districts that have been moving the other way) to wrest control of the House? This probably hurts their fundraising, which is absolutely essential to winning all of those seats.


As usual, some of the best analysis can be found over at FiveThirtyEight. Nate reviews the outcomes of the five big contests (PA Dem, KY Dem & GOP, AR Dem and the PA-12 Special).  He doesn’t see the Sestak victory and the Arkansas run-off as evidence of a leftist insurgency within the Democratic Party.

Dan Balz and Chris Cillizza from the WaPo chat about the things we learned. Not surprisingly, the results revealed to these Beltway Insiders just how much those outside the Beltway distrust and dislike DC.

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Arkansas’ Mike Beebe.

A survey (pdf) done by Democratic firm Public Policy Polling showed the incumbent boasting  a 63-17% job approval rating. While Democratic Senator Blanche Lincoln faces a difficult 2010 re-election campaign against virtually any candidate with an “R” next to their name, numbers like these are likely to scare off any serious GOP challenger to Beebe.

These numbers reinforce another midsummer Arkansas poll (pdf) showing Beebe strutting a stratospheric 77-17 favorable-to-unfavorable rating in the state.

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