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 Energy


Guber Quick Hits, Tues 6/1/10

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Maryland: The BP oil spill has reignited the offshore drilling debate in the guber race between Martin O’Malley and Bob Ehrlich. O’Malley is pointing to the ecological and economic disaster in the Gulf as further evidence against increased drilling, especially near the environmentally sensitive Chesapeake Bay. Ehrlich, while not advocating drilling off Maryland’s shoreline, does argue in support of Alaskan drilling.

New York: Rick Lazio won the Conservative Party nod over the weekend – barely getting over 50% - and could face a primary challenge from Erie County’s Ralph Lorigo, an ally of Carl Paladino. The infighting within the GOP circles in New York make is seem inconceivable they might come together this fall and actually mount a credible campaign against Andrew Cuomo.

Ohio: GOP guber wannabe John Kasich has a new book he wants you to know about. Every Other Monday is touted “as an honest look at how to build faith find solace, even during the most heart-breaking circumstances, and offers a template for reconsidering how we make everyday choices as well as life-changing decisions.” Who would’ve thought the former Fox News  personality had a Deepak Chopra hidden inside? Perhaps he discovered these profound insights while pocketing millions during his time at Lehman Brothers?

South Dakota: Democrat SD House Minority Leader Scott Heidepriem launched his campaign last week, stressing his independence from partisan ideology, vowing to cut the size of state government and promising to never raise taxes. In a display that national Democrats view Heidepriem as a viable candidates, the DGA has donated $50K to his campaign. Today he followed in the steps of Utah Democrat Peter Corroon who picked a GOP Light Guv running mate by selecting Republican businessman and political newcomer Ben Arndt.

Wyoming: Billing herself as a “Freudenthal Democrat,” Wyoming Democratic Chairwoman Leslie Peterson filed campaign papers at the very last possible minute last Friday. Party leaders say her candidacy gives Cowboy State Democrats “a candidate who can galvanize political support statewide.”


CO: The (Regulation) Debate Goes On

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As the environmental catastrophe continues to spread across the Gulf of Mexico, Colorado Republicans have gotten themselves all indignant over Gov. Bill Ritter’s recent statements on oil and gas regulations. Ritter fought a politically costly battle (it was one of the factors that helped push his job approval numbers into the political netherworld last year) against the powerful energy industry in the Rocky Mountain State. He successfully passed stricter regulations and imposed greater government oversight of drilling in the state.

Republicans have charged the regulations have caused energy companies to abandon the state, leading to lost jobs and revenue and worsening the recession.

As the world watches in horror at the environmental and economic consequences of lax oversight ooze across the Gulf and through the Louisiana bayou, Ritter made the argument for increased regulation.

“People are going to have a much more difficult time criticizing these rules because we’re being good stewards of the environment. The BP spill in the Gulf is the exclamation point on what happens when stewardship wanes, when it goes away. We didn’t do that, we were stewards. And, yes, it was a fight with the industry but it was a fight worth having for us because I can feel comfortable that we’ve got the right permitting process in place.”

Republicans were outraged the governor would try to score political points from the disaster.

Guber hopeful Dan Maes got his libertarian panties (I mean principles), all riled up, decrying the Democrat’s efforts to protect the environment (and a huge part of Colorado’s tourism-heavy economy) from the heavy hand of the free market.

“It’s reprehensible for anyone to use this for political gain,” Maes said. “[The spill] shouldn’t have happened, its tragic, but for him to try to make political hay out of it is reprehensible. And the truth is, his regulations have literally chased the industry out of our state and the rig counts reflect that.”

And the beat goes on.

Categories : Colorado, Energy
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No surprises here.

The GOP-exiled (but still) Governor Charlie Crist has called the Florida Legislature into a special session to debate offshore drilling. Crist wants to put a constitutional amendment permanently banning offshore drilling in state waters before voters in the next election.

It squeezes his former GOP colleagues in the state legislature into such a tight spot that 5,000 barrels of oil wouldn’t be enough lubricant to slip them out of. How do they deny the voters a voice on an issue that is dominating the headlines and could affect the state’s economy for a generation and not pay a political price?  If the voters enact a ban how do they fill the gap in their future budgets created by the loss of the drilling lease income the GOP leaders had counted on?

Not surprisingly, the legislative leaders see no need for a special session.

But the governor’s suggestion of bringing lawmakers back to Tallahassee the week of May 24 without a consensus on the energy issues sparked harsh rebukes from House and Senate leaders.

House Speaker Larry Cretul, R-Ocala, blasted Crist’s call for a special session as “a political ploy to promote the future of politicians.” In a statement, Cretul said state leaders and resources should focus on “solving the real problem at hand, not fighting political campaigns at taxpayers’ expense.”

Incoming Speaker Dean Cannon, R-Winter Park, who had been the Legislature’s strongest advocate for opening Florida waters to oil drilling, agreed that a special session was unnecessary because of a federal ban that now prohibits oil drilling 125 miles off state beaches.

“State and federal law already prohibits oil drilling off of Florida’s shores, and lifting the ban will be off the table while I am speaker, so a special session to address it is unwarranted,” Cannon said in a statement.

It’s hard to see how this doesn’t become a big political winner for Crist. It’s tailor-made for his “I’m running for Florida, not any political party” campaign message.

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Categories : Energy, Environment, Florida
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Quick Hits, Tuesday 5/11/10

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California: Absentee voting in the June 8 primary is underway. Mail-in ballots have become increasingly popular among Golden State voters, where 41% of the total votes cast in the 2008 presidential election were by mail. Will early voting effectively blunt the recent momentum Steve Poizner has seen in recent polling (Survey USA has Poizner within the margin of error)  in the GOP contest? It certainly aided Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primaries, as many Californians had started sending in their ballots prior to then-Senator Barack Obama’s historic victory in the Iowa caucuses.

Connecticut: Leading Nutmeg State Democrats are picking their Light Guv dance partners. Last week, it was Ned Lamont picking Mary Glassman. This week, it’s former Danbury Mayor Dannel Malloy selecting state Comptroller Nancy Wyman.

Florida: Charlie Crist is leaning closer to calling for a special legislative session, possibly as soon as the week of May 24. On the agenda: permanently banning offshore drilling within state waters (which extend 10 miles out). Asked if he believes there’s support in the state legislature for a constitutional amendment,

“The governor predicted getting at least 72 House members and 24 senators to vote for a drilling ban would be easy. “Now?” He said. “Who’s going to vote against that?”

The only glitch is that state lawmakers had been using income from offshore leasing to plug holes in the budget. That’s the not-so-easy part.

Maine: More on the Tea Party tempest that boiled over at the Maine Republican convention this past weekend. Some Republicans are worrying the lurch to the right hurts the GOP in November. Democrats are hoping they’re right.

Massachusetts: Scott Brown’s vacant state senate seat will be  filled by the end of the day. The Attleboro Sun Chronicle (the paper that used to get delivered to my house when I was growing up) has a piece on why the outcome is important to both parties.

Michigan: The Democratic guber field has been winnowed down to two. The departure of state Rep. Alma Wheeler Smith from the race leaves Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero facing off against House Speaker Andy Dillon. As the Detroit News observes, most analysts expect Smith’s departure to help Bernero, as both hail from the liberal wing of the party. It should set up a major battle over the direction of the Democratic Party in a critical swing state that has been battered by the economic recession unlike any other. This is a primary race to watch.

South Dakota: More Red State Blues for Democrats – In another sign of a Republican renaissance, the South Dakota GOP has experienced a rebound in voter registration. Democrats, after peaking at a all-time high in June 2009, have seen their numbers slip over the past year.

How quickly Florida’s political currents change when the ocean waters are slick with oil. Terrified Florida officials are contemplating a special session to amend the state constitution to permanently ban offshore drilling in state waters.

With the Gulf oil spill beginning to reach land, political tensions in Florida rose Thursday as Gov. Charlie Crist said he may call a special legislative session to put a drilling ban on the November ballot.

“It would seem to me, at a minimum, giving the people a voice on this issue would be helpful,” Crist told the Herald/Times after a meeting in Pensacola with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Commerce Secretary Gary Locke. “What I need to do is evaluate if a special session is needed but it is something I am considering.”

The idea of a special session for a constitutional amendment came from Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink and Democratic lawmakers who say voters should decide whether they want to permanently end efforts to open Florida’s near-shore waters to oil and gas exploration.

Recently purged Governor Charlie Crist may not only be providing a lift to Sink’s gubernatorial aspirations, he could be undermining GOP efforts to hold onto his office.

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Categories : Energy, Florida
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TGIF’s Must-Reads

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A few articles from around the intertubes:

Sticks and Stones May Break My Bones But Names Will Never Hurt Me: Even as kids, we knew that words mattered, despite how we tried to deflect taunts.

In the political arena, words like “Socialist,” “Liberal,” and “Family Values” are tossed around by partisan spinmeisters as they work to shape the debate, demonize their opponents and derail policies. Pew Research has tested some of these terms and reveals some surprising results. Who would have predicted that “progressive” is a label viewed more positively than “capitalism”? Perhaps the recent plundering of the American economy by Wall Street’s Masters of the Universe has something to do with that.

Also fascinating to see two “Republican” labels like “family values” and “state’s rights” right alongside two “Democratic” labels like “civil rights” and “civil liberties.”

I have always thought that the term “socialism” has a much less powerful and sinister connotation to to anyone too young to remember when the Berlin Wall was a permanent, intractable fact of political life. When that barrier fell and the world changed, the specter and power of “socialist!” as an epithet in American politics was greatly diminished.

UTAH: Former GOP Governor and current US Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman talks politics with the Salt Lake Tribune. With the anticipated ouster of Senator Bob Bennett at this weekend’s GOP State Convention, Huntsman advocated changing Utah’s  nominating process:

“The answer simply needs to be: How do you engage more people in politics? And if that’s through a direct primary, that needs to be a very serious consideration,” Huntsman, who is now U.S. Ambassador to China, said in an interview Thursday.

Opponents of the convention system — which Huntsman twice successfully navigated to become governor — say it focuses power in the hands of the party activists and doesn’t represent the average Utahn.

Is the Answer Blowing in the Wind? – looks at how the recent federal decision to give the go-ahead to the offshore wind  turbines off Cape Cod has propelled similar projects in other states toward implementation of long-delayed plans.

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