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 Economy


Did Kasich Dodge a Lehman Bullet?

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Will John Kasich be able to distance himself from his Lehman Brothers days?

The Columbus Dispatch reports:

Kasich campaign officials acknowledged that the former congressman helped arrange the two meetings between Lehman officials and representatives of the Ohio Police and Fire Pension Fund and the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System, known as OPERS.

Kasich campaign officials said in a statement that “these meetings did not result in business for Lehman Brothers, and John earned no commission from this or any other public sector business.” Kasich never approached any other Ohio governmental entity about doing business with Lehman, the campaign said.

According to the state, five Ohio pension funds lost anywhere between $221 and $480 million when Lehman went bankrupt in late 2008. If I’m on the Kasich team, I’m thanking the political gods the Ohio pension officials were smart enough to walk on by the Lehman sales pitch. If they hadn’t, the losses would have been even worse – and Kasich’s fingerprints would have been all the place. It’s bad enough that state employees life savings were hapless victims of his former employer’s irresponsible mismanagement.

On the other hand, what does it say about Kasich’s networking skills and rainmaking ability that he wasn’t able to get the right people together to make a deal? Isn’t that the skill set that would have enticed Lehman to hire him in the first place? And, isn’t that what Ohioans should be looking for in a chief executive as the state tries to rebound economically?

Categories : Economy, Ohio
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Politico analyzes five 2010 races potentially altered by the BP disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. The list includes the top tier MegaState races the national media has been fixated on throughout the current cycle (California Governor & Senate, Florida Senate, Texas Governor) and one additional race in a state most directly and immediately impacted and by the oil slick (Louisiana Senate).

Notably absent are two gubernatorial races whose winners will likely be dealing with the effects of the growing environmental disaster throughout their terms in office – the Alabama and Florida contests. I’d argue that the Gulf Coast Governors are going to be confronted with the long-term consequences, the clean up’s logistics and costs, the task of  rebuilding battered local industries far more than their Senators up in DC. These governors are going to be on the frontline of cleaning up the environmental mess and how to pay for it.


In the Sunshine State, the politics of offshore drilling have been fluid in recent years. After decades of steadfast public opposition to drilling near the coast because the state’s economy was built on it’s pristine beaches. Tourism ruled. Recently, however, soaring prices at the pump, strained state budgets and a desire for no new taxes helped put a big dent in this public opposition.

It was early summer 2008 when a former maverick who desired to be president sensed a political opportunity. Americans  were seething over rapidly rising gasoline prices.  This maverick, who was called McCain rode in from the West and pulled an old switcheroo (it would be denounced as a flip-flop if he had been a Democrat) and reversed his long-standing opposition to lifting a decades-old bipartisan ban on new offshore drilling.

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As noted earlier, it’s primary day in Ohio. What better day for the incumbent Democratic governor to come out swinging hard at his general election challenger?

For months now, we’ve known the two Guber nominees.

For Team Blue, incumbent Ted Strickland is one of  a  trio of midwestern Democrats (along with Chet Culver in Iowa and Pat Quinn in Illinois) who are attempting to hang on during this anti-incumbent election cycle.

Team Red has opted to turn to an old stalwart from the GOP’s past, former Rep. John Kasich. The former FOX News talking head is hoping for a triumphant return to the political arena after spending time at FOX News and buffing up his populist credentials at Lehman Brothers.

Looks like Kasich’s resume may create a soft spot or two during this populist anti-Wall Street, anti-bailout, “where are the jobs?” political climate.

Strickland hits ‘em all in his first general election ad, asking, “Does Ohio really need a congressman from Wall Street for governor?”

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In the Free State, a reporter ponders whether the seed  of the Ehrlich-O’Malley rematch was planted last fall in the Garden State ouster of former Democratic Governor Jon Corzine.

Of the three GOP victories since last November (Virginia’s McDonnell, Massachusetts’ Brown and New Jersey’s Christie), Ehrlich himself finds the most parallels with New Jersey.

When he revealed his election plans to reporters March 30, Ehrlich said it was the New Jersey race, not GOP victories in Virginia or Massachusetts, that helped him decide to run.

“New Jersey is a tough state to win in. It also has a crippling budget deficit that has serious economic consequences. That’s a pretty startling parallel to Maryland,” said Henry Fawell, an Ehrlich spokesman.

I’ve got a news flash for Mr. Fawell: the state that doesn’t have a huge budget deficit facing serious economic consequences is hard to find these days. Look around. State legislatures are battling governors over budget gaps and long-term financial holes across the country. It’s a bipartisan affliction at this point.

In comparing the incumbents as candidates, O’Malley is a far more polished politician than Corzine could ever hope to be. Corzine’s original selling point was his Wall Street acumen. Imagine if he were running in 2010? the Asbury Park dog-catcher would have a chance against him in this anti-Goldman Sachs furor!  His failure to bring economic order to the Garden State’s finances and his inability to fire up the Democratic base ensured his pink slip. Read More→

Categories : Economy, Maryland
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AdMonitor (CA): Vulture Capitalism

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What is it with California’s political advertising this year? First it was Carly Fiorina’s infamously creepy “Demon Sheep” ad. Now, it’s GOP gubernatorial candidate Steve Poizner using ravenous vultures in an attack on GOP front-runner Meg Whitman and her previous relationship with embattled investment firm Goldman Sachs.

Populist outrage over a near-global fiscal catastrophe and an economic system just back from the brink  has brought us this – one billionaire accusing another billionaire of vulture capitalism. It makes one wonder what type of ads Teddy Roosevelt would have run a century ago?

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Perry: Not Alone Star Anymore

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After all that noise about state sovereignty and rejecting $555 million in stimulus funding because of all the strings attached, it looks like Texas Governor Rick Perry has realized people in his state are hurting. The state is now asking for a $170 million loan from the feds to rescue it’s dwindling unemployment fund.

Categories : Economy, Texas
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McDonnell & the Memory Hole

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Successful political candidates are often those who articulate a clear vision for the future. Those who create a common sense of purpose can convince others to join their cause. Sometimes, these campaigns urge us to turn the page on the past in order to move forward as a society. These were hallmarks of the Obama campaign.

Not so much Virginia GOP nominee Bob McDonnell.

Throughout Campaign 2008, the one area of bipartisan agreement might have been the desire to forget the Bush years, as our candidates up and down the ballot sought to flush everything BushCheney into our collective memory hole.

Bob McDonnell, however, has fond memories of Bush years, especially the economic policy:

So, there’s Bob McDonnell defending tax cuts combined with no fiscal restraints on the spending side, arguing it led to a decade of unprecedented growth. If by unprecedented he means the slowest job expansion decade in the post war era, then I guess he’s right.

Tapping into frustration over taxes is a tried and true GOP political tactic. It remains to be seen whether Virginians’ memory hole is so deep they are able to forget Republicans’ lack of fiscal restraint during the Bush/Hastert years.

Categories : Economy, Open Seats, Virginia
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Bankruptcy Haunting Moonbeam?

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The news that the City of Oakland has considered filing for bankruptcy can’t be welcomed by Attorney General Jerry Brown’s campaign team. The once and wannabe future governor spent a stint as Mayor of the East Bay city. And while the municipalities across the Golden State are being crushed by financial concerns, Brown’s two primary rivals are mayors of two cities – San Francisco and LA – that haven’t whispered the “b-word” about their budget forecasts. Brown built a reputation as a law and order mayor – parlaying it into the AG post – but with the city he left behind facing the loss of 200 cops if the budget gap can’t be closed his mayoralty may come back to haunt him in the Democratic primary.

A sidethougth: Jerry Brown was once called Governor Moonbeam – will the septuagenarian perhaps become Governor Sunset if he is victorious in 2010?

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