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 Environment


Guber Quick Hits, Thurs 8/26/10

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Hawaii: Former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann picked up the backing of two of his former colleagues as the mayors of Kauai and the Big Island endorsed his guber primary bid. His opponent, former US Rep. Neil Abercrombie also picked up the support of a former colleague, as former Rep. Ed Case endorsed him.

Illinois: Tea Party in Obama’s home town? Republican Bill Brady’s campaign manager is helping fund Tea Party groups across Illinois.

Michigan: GOP guber nominee Rick Snyder – a former board member of The Nature Conservancy – has come under fire from some environmental groups over his selection of Brian Calley as his Light Guv dance partner.

New Hampshire: Gov. John Lynch has amassed an impressive $1.3 million campaign fundraising haul, although more than a third ($500K) has come from a personal loan made to his own campaign. Republican John Stephen has raised just under $1 million. Both have over $700K in the bank for the final two months of the campaign, although Stephen does have a competitive primary to win first on September 14th.

Oklahoma: Guber wannabes Mary Fallin and Jari Askins have agreed to two October debates.

Rhode Island: Former GOP Senator Lincoln Chafee – now running for governor as an independent – picked up the support of the Rhode Island chapter of the National Educators Association. The endorsement follows the lead of the state’s other major teachers union, the Rhode Island Federation of Teachers and Health Professionals – which backed Chafee in July.

South Carolina: More than thirty Palmetto State mayors endorsed Democrat Vincent Sheheen’s gubernatorial campaign, saying he would better listen to the needs of local leaders than would his opponent, Nikki Haley.


Quick Hits, Thursday 5/20/10

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Alabama: It may be just me, but when you’re touting an internal poll showing you’ve got mediocre support among the most critical Democratic voting bloc, your primary campaign is in trouble. Never understood why Artur Davis thought running to the middle was a sound primary strategy. You can’t get to the general if you don’t win the nomination first.

Arizona: Rasmussen confirms Jan Brewer’s assault on civil rights has propelled her way, way, way to the front of the GOP field in what had previously been a tight contest. She now commands 45% of GOP voters (that’s up from 26% a month ago).

California: Could Democrats be overreaching by including ending the death penalty in their party platform? Can’t imagine AG Jerry Brown wants to campaign on that.

Connecticut: The New York Times and a state Supreme Court decision threatened to derail the political ambitions of two prominent Democratic officials as the party heads into this week’s state convention.

Florida: Bill McCollum has sent off a sternly worded letter to BP stating the obvious. Hurricane season is starting and that could make the mess in the Gulf much, much worse. Oh, and by the way, the AG asks, please promise to pay for the clean-up. Pretty please?

Idaho: Could Bruce Otter actually face a legitimate Democratic challenge this year? If fundraising ability is any indicator, the answer may be yes. Between January and early May, Democrat Keith Allred out raised the incumbent by $210,000 to $193,000. The campaign isn’t lacking in confidence, either. They’re touting a recent Rasmussen poll showing them trailing by 22 points as a sign the race will be a dead heat by November.

Iowa: Former Gov. Terry Branstad picked up a big endorsement. An anti-tax group, Iowans for Tax Relief, broke a long-standing policy of remaining neutral in primaries and endorsed the front-runner who had been criticized by the other GOP guber wannabes for signing a series of tax hikes during his (long) stint as Iowa’s governor.

Kansas: Sam Brownback may have picked a fight with the wrong special interest. His amendment to the Wall Street reform package currently being debated in the US Senate advocates for an auto dealer exemption. Turns out, he’s angered another (bigger) special interest – the US Military. Democrat Tom Holland has seized upon the issue as an example of how Brownback’s time in DC has caused him to forget whose interests he’s supposed to serve.

New York: GOP hopeful Rick Lazio has selected his Light Guv dance partner.

Utah: Salt Lake City Mayor Peter Corroon is inviting supporters to come to “Corroon Country” – his new effort to link supporters of his bid to oust Republican Gov. Gary Herbert this November.

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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As noted yesterday, AG Bill McCollum is one of the few Florida Republicans who hold statewide elective office who hasn’t flip-flopped on the issue of offshore drilling. Didn’t appear there was much difference between he and Democratic guber wannabe Alex Sink.

Until this.

As the oil continues to spill into the Gulf of Mexico, the talk in Washington involves the federal $75 million liability cap on damages, which was approved by Congress in 1990. U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson wants to raise the ceiling to $10 billion.

It’s worth noting that then-Congressman Bill McCollum voted for the cap as a part of the Oil Pollution Prevention, Response, Liability and Compensation Act, which won unanimous approval.

The vote puts McCollum, now the attorney general and a candidate for governor, in a precarious spot as the clean up is sure to linger throughout the campaign season. His rival, CFO Alex Sink, was quick to notice.

With the estimated price tag for the environmental cleanup and economic damages soaring into the tens of BILLIONS, not sure what the $75 million might cover.

But, rest assured, a McCollum spokesperson says the limit is only federal and that the AG isn’t limited by and liability caps under Florida law. And we all know how much Bill McCollum loves his lawsuits.

Categories : Environment, Florida
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Since Politico left two of the three Gulf Coast 2010 gubernatorial contests off their list of how the oil spill was affecting local politics, I thought a look at how guber wannabes in Alabama and Florida.

In Alabama, where Mobile had been positioning itself to be the “energy hub” of the eastern Gulf of Mexico, there’s a strong loyalty to the oil and gas industry. It’s already an important economic engine that was only going to get more powerful with the Obama Administration’s recent decision to expand offshore drilling into the region.

Therefore, supporting “Drill, Baby, Drill” was a political no-brainer in the state, particularly for Republicans. However, in recent days, as the ooze has crept toward the coastal beaches, that no-brainer has gradually given way to second thoughts.

The Democratic front-runner, Rep. Artur Davis, a man who has made a habit recently of proving how he’s a different type of Democrat by voting against the national party on key issues like health care reform and shunned the support of civil rights groups and had supported offshore drilling as part of his economic plan for the state, filed legislation in Congress to raise the liability limits BP might face from this ever-expanding catastrophe.

On the Republican side, GOP front-runner Bradley Byrne, a long-time proponent of offshore drilling is having serious second thoughts:

“I’ve always been a proponent of drilling, but I’ve got to be honest, I’m having second thoughts. I really like the idea of America taking advantage of all our energy resources to be energy independent, but you look at this incident and wonder, where were the contingency plans?”

“It’s already had a profound effect on the economy down there,” Byrne said. “The recreational and commercial fishing has been really negatively affected. Anybody that manages or owns a condominium or hotel will tell you they are being negatively affected, and at the beginning of their season.

“This is the part of the year they want to be full-up for June and starting to fill up for July and August, and it’s not happening. People with businesses that feed off that — restaurants, storeowners — it’s having a major effect on everyone there.”

Clearly, what’s driving politics is the green. Not Green as in the environment, but Green as in the almighty dollar.

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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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