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

800px-governors_by_party

Archive for GOP Civil War

Oct
14

Guber Quick Hits, Thurs 10/14/10

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California: It looks like Jerry Brown bumbled his way through a non-apology at the third and last debate against Meg Whitman. He mishandled the required “I’m sorry” so badly when the ‘Meg is a whore’ thing came up that he’s got NOW demanding the staffer who uttered the words be fired.

Georgia: Mike Huckabee will be returning to Atlanta for an Oct 21 Nathan Deal fundraiser.

Illinois: The money spigot is turned on in the final weeks of the closely fought gubernatorial contest. Since Oct. 4, both Bill Brady and Pat Quinn have raised over $1.3 milllion, with huge influxes coming from Haley’s RGA gang ($585K) for Brady and the SEIU ($750K) for Quinn.

Illinois II: Democrats are nervous that disgraced former Light Guv nominee Scott Lee Cohen (who’s mounting an independent guber candidacy) could siphon off black voters because of the visibility of his Light Guv dance partner, Baxter Swilley a longtime Democratic activist who could attract enough votes to the Cohen ticket to tip the race to downstate Republican Bill Brady.

Massachusetts: When Paul Loscocco decided to give up his position as independent Tim Cahill’s Light Guv dance partner it looked like Charlie Baker (who Loscocco endorsed as he jumped ship) would be the primary beneficiary as it looked like the gubernatorial contest would come down to a two-candidate choice between Baker and Gov. Deval Patrick. The controversy that has ensued, however, seems to be taking a toll on Baker.  A Suffolk University poll shows 17% of voters less likely to support Baker and 19% less likely to vote for Cahill. Winner? Patrick.

Minnesota: Is Minnesota the frontline of the GOP’s civil war? With a relatively robust history of viable third party candidates, the GOP’s lurch to the right has provided an opportunity for Tom Horner – a former GOP legislator to mount a credible run for governor on the Independence Party line. He’s attracting a significant amount of support from former Republican officeholders whose public endorsements are meant to send a message to a rightward marching state GOP – ‘watch your middle.’

New Mexico: One of Republican guber nominee Susana Martinez’s biggest donations came from Clayton Williams Energy – an oil and gas company in Midland, TX. Clayton Williams once ran – and lost – a Texas gubernatorial race against Democrat Ann Richards – a campaign where he gained notoriety for his sexist sense of humor when he told a “joke” about rape. Seizing an opportunity, Democrat Diane Denish’s campaign demanded Martinez return the $15,000 donation. Martinez quickly redirected the $20,000 from Williams and his interests to a rape crisis center.

Rhode Island: In a development that threatens to derail Lincoln Chafee’s independent run for governor, the former US Senator’s campaign manager has resigned after acknowledging he received unemployment checks while he was on the campaign payroll. This comes after news Chafee’s Senate campaign had failed to pay taxes for five years.

South Carolina: Blogger Will Folks is back. Nikki Haley is “refusing to sign a sworn affidavit offering her version of the “truth” pertaining to a pair of claims that she had romantic encounters outside the bounds of her 13-year marriage.”

Texas: The spokeswoman for former gubernatorial candidate Debra Medina – who briefly made national headlines in a meteoric rise (and crash on Glenn Beck) during the GOP primary – is claiming Rick Perry has been ducking debates against Democrat Bill White because he fears Libertarian Kathie Glass, not the Democrat.

Aug
21

Guber Quick Hits, Sat 8/21/10

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California: At what point does a candidate become overexposed? The Jerry Brown camp has polling numbers saying MegaBucks Whitman’s saturation of the Golden State’s TeeVees has started a backlash among voters.

Florida: Even if Bill McCollum survives this Tuesday’s guber primary slugfest, the RPOF will turn to the general election campaign in a financially distressed state. Their federal campaign finance account which typically funds GOTV efforts, has been drained as the party establishment has poured everything into salvaging McCollum’s candidacy.

Illinois: Accidental Gov. Pat Quinn’s campaign continues to unravel. It’s now parted ways with David Axelrod’s media firm.

Maryland: Trying to have it both ways. Former Gov. Bob Ehrlich has taken to touring the state criticizing over-regulation and government’s role in hindering economic growth but when a questioner points out some of the system he’s complaining about were signed into law by Ehrlich himself, he avoids the query and attacks the questioner.

Massachusetts: Sensing danger in the media’s recent midterm tea leaf reading, the White House is denying that Gov. Deval Patrick’s re-election effort is any sort of bellwhether for Obama’s 2012 campaign.

Oregon: The debate about debates between John Kitzhaber and Chris Dudley continues. The Democrat wants a series of seven encounters while the former NBA Trail Blazer has accepted four – although the four he wants aren’t necessarily the Kitz wants. Round and round it goes as Oregon’s budget hole grows larger.

Pennsylvania: During the Democratic primary Philadelphia-area state senator Anthony Williams set Keystone State fundraising and spending records when a trio of school voucher proponents donated millions to his campaign. When Williams officially endorsed Democratic nominee Dan Onorato, many wondered whether those donors would open their checkbooks once again. It appears they haven’t.

Vermont: Brian Dubie makes it easier for his eventual Democratic opponent to run against the Dubya legacy.

Jun
17

SC: GOP Establishment’s Last Gasp?

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Politico has a fascinating article up about the fissure dividing local Palmetto State Republicans and the national party.

While Nikki Haley’s candidacy has caught fire in the national  leadership’s imagination, the entrenched old boys network in Columbia has manned the barricades in an effort to “torpedo” Haley in next Tuesday’s run-off against Rep. Gresham Barrett. Politico calls it an “unusual spectacle” where the interests of local and national leaders are in direct conflict.

Haley is viewed as a threat to business as usual in a state where politicians have been able to operate in relative anonymity as they conduct the people’s business. The Haley campaign’s message of transparency and government reform strikes fear into their hearts. Her election would be seen as a continuation of Gov. Mark Sanford’s libertarian-leaning brand of conservatism in the Governor’s Mansion. Another Sanford administration wouldn’t be welcomed by many GOP legislators, who have been at odds with Sanford for years.

Gresham Barrett, the GOP congressman backed by a high-priced team of veteran consultants, has launched a two-week, take-no-prisoners assault to defeat her. Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer, who came in a distant fourth in the Republican primary, has endorsed Barrett. So has the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce. And some of her statehouse colleagues, after eight tumultuous years of Gov. Mark Sanford, are determined to stop Haley — a Sanford protégé — from taking the top job.

Barrett is manning the ramparts for the Republican legislators and holding no punches. He’s touting himself as the “Christian” candidate and

…attacking Haley as “the Sanford candidate,” which for many voters conjures up the outgoing South Carolina governor’s embarrassing jaunt to Argentina to visit his mistress.

The state’s political insiders are siding with Barrett for a different reason — they expect a Haley victory would result in another toxic legislative-executive relationship, with more statehouse gridlock.

“We have wasted eight years with Mark Sanford during which time we have accomplished almost nothing that is beneficial for this state, and in some instances we’ve gone backwards. And as legislators who love the state of South Carolina, one of our concerns is that anybody follow that same road,” said Republican state Rep. Bill Sandifer, who chairs the business committee on which Haley served for four years.

The SC Chamber of Commerce supports Barrett because it views Haley as bad for business.  Her confrontational tone – which inspires Tea Party activists – frightens the state’s business leaders. Haley’s attacks on the political establishment portends a continuation of Sanford’s adversarial relationship with the legislature which would lead to continued legislative gridlock, hamper economic recovery and limit job growth.

Perhaps the biggest beneficiary in this Republican civil war could be the long-suffering Democrats. If Haley wins the run-off, it’s not inconceivable the Chamber could endorse Vincent Sheheen, the Democratic nominee.

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Jun
15

NV: RGA’s Dump Gibbons Effort

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When it became clear in late 2008 that Republican Governor Jim Gibbons was a political “dead man walking” when it came to his reelection chances, the Republican Governor’s Association began plotting his political defeat. Last week, their plans came to fruition. Gibbons became the first incumbent Nevada governor defeated by a primary challenger.

That challenger, former federal judge Brian Sandoval, enters the general election campaign against Democrat Rory Reid (‘the younger’) as the favorite.

The seduction of Sandoval was a lengthy courtship, according to the Hotline. The officially sanctioned intraparty fratricide was also unprecedented in recent memory.

In the course of wooing Sandoval, RGA officials promised the contest would be one of its top targets. Still, Sandoval — who had a lifetime appointment as a federal judge — was reluctant to give up his seat. Finally, though, he relented and decided to run.

The RGA’s decision to go against one of their own was politically wise. Gibbons had little shot of winning, while Sandoval is already well-known after serving as the state’s AG.

But the precedent is unique; sources across Capitol Hill, some with a decade or more experience working with or at party committees, could not recall another incident of a committee recruiting against one of its own incumbents. Party committees may have tried to force members to quit key committee slots, abandon re-election plans or even retire, but the notion that a committee would actively recruit against one of their incumbents is unheard of.


Categories : GOP Civil War, Nevada
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Jun
04

Guber Quick Hits, TGIF 6/4/10

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Alabama: Following his surprising defeat by Ron Sparks in the Democratic primary this week, Rep. Artur Davis is swearing off politics for good.

California: File this in the “Pot Meets Kettle” File – mini-billionaire Steve Poizner is calling mega-billionaire MegaBucks Whitman’s spending in their GOP guber primary as “obscene.

Georgia: The Peach State’s Right to Life chapter endorsed all the major GOP guber candidates EXCEPT for the one female in the race, former Secretary of State Karen Handel saying she didn’t fit the “21st century definition demands of being pro-life.” Handel claims the reason the group withheld their approval was because she supports abortion in the cases of rape or incest and does not support their effort to ban in vitro fertilization.

Iowa: Sarah Palin has endorsed Terry Branstad’s comeback bid, choosing the former governor over conservative Bob Vander Plaats, who has the backing of Mike Huckabee, Chuck Norris and many religious conservatives in the Hawkeye State.

Kansas: Sam Brownback defied predictions that he would select a moderate Light Guv running mate to attract Democratic and independent voters by picking a long-time friend, conservative state Senator (and plastic surgeon) Jeff Colyer.

Minnesota: DFL-endorsed House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher won the endorsement of the UAW as she continues to gather labor support in her primary contest against Matt Entenza and Mark Dayton.

Nevada: A district judge issued an injunction against the Alliance for America’s Future, ruling the PAC was not registered in Nevada. The decision prohibited the group from running pro-Sandoval campaign ads in the state.

South Carolina: Sarah Palin’s voice can be heard on telephones across the Palmetto State this last weekend before the guber primary supporting her candidate Nikki Haley.

Jun
02

NY: Will Levy Make the Grade?

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Political junkies will have an answer to one of our most fascinating questions of the 2010 cycle this morning.

Today is the day the NY GOP determines whether or not former Democrat (and not yet Republican) Steve Levy will make the primary ballot. It’s unclear he can clear the higher hurdle required of non-GOP candidates. Will Lazio supporters succeed in preventing him from surpassing 50% on the second ballot?

If he does make the ballot, will there be fallout among the party faithful? After all, this is the state where the first Tea Party-Establishment skirmish happened last year in the NY-23 special election. It’s difficult to see how party insiders placing a true RINO on the ballot will be embraced by the GOP rank-and-file.

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Jun
01

NY: Steve’s No Quitter

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The New York GOP Circus (er, convention) is underway in Manhattan.

Rumors of a vote of “no confidence” for the party chairman swirl as he contemplates declaring war on the Conservative Party by adding another GOP line on the ballot.

The late entry of Myers Mermel as a fourth candidate has led to increased speculation that former Democrat-turned-Republican Steve Levy may end his candidacy – or launch a petition drive to get onto the November ballot as a candidate without a party.

Capital Tonight reports he’s denied an end is near, telling them:

“It’s totally untrue; it’s ridiculous,” said Levy, adding: “We’re in it all the way. We’re down on the ten-yard line. We expect to bring it over the goal line…I switched parties; I put my neck on the line. Why in the world would I stop now?”

As to whether he’d choose the petition option if he doesn’t make it onto the GOP primary ballot, he expressed confidence that step wouldn’t be necessary:

“We haven’t gotten to that point yet,” Levy replied when I asked about petitioning to create a new minor party. “But we don’t think we’re going to need it. I’m very confident I’m going to get onto the ballot at the convention because I’m the one guy who can beat Andrew Cuomo.”

Categories : GOP Civil War, New York
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The GOP’s Hawkeye State Civil War may be closer than most observers think.

With one week to go, former Governor Terry Branstad has a 15-point lead over his lesser-known opponent Bob Vander Plaats, according to a new survey from Democratic pollster Public Policy Polling.  State Rep. Rod Roberts is a distant third. The well-known, much better funded Branstad’s failure to reach 50% may mean a surprise is brewing in the midwest.

Vander Plaats’ major obstacle is his relative anonymity among primary voters – 34% say they did not have an opinion about him. Only 22% said that about Branstad, who served 16 years as Iowa’s chief executive in the 1980s and 90s.

Hoping to change those numbers, Vander Plaats recently began airing two campaign ads statewide, one attacking Branstad and the other Democratic incumbent Chet Culver.

PPP found that conservative Republicans – who are the bulk of the primary electorate – are closely split between the two.

GOP Primary Vote
  Overall Liberal Moderate Conservative
Branstad 46% 62% 58% 41%
Roberts 13% 28% 14% 11%
Vander Plaats 31% 10% 19% 35%
Undecided 11%   9% 12%

In a blog post, Public Policy sees Branstad as a  surprisingly vulnerable favorite:

Terry Branstad served as Governor of Iowa for four terms. Bob Vander Plaats’ only experience with political office has been losing campaigns for it. But fueled by support from conservatives and an anti-establishment environment Vander Plaats appears to at least have a chance at pulling a big upset in next week’s primary. Branstad currently stands at a surprisingly low 46%, followed by Vander Plaats at 31% and Rod Roberts at 13%.

The race is particularly tight among the conservative voters who have been giving GOP establishment candidates fits across the country so far in 2010. With them Branstad leads Vander Plaats only 41-35. He expands his overall lead thanks to a 58-19 advantage with moderates.

Among voters that actually know who Vander Plaats is- whether they see him favorably or unfavorably- he leads Branstad 42-37

Vander Plaats’ ads after the jump… Read More→

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May
31

NY: GOP’s State of Confusion

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If  you haven’t heard, the New York legislature is a dysfunctional mess. Empire State voters are embarrassed, frustrated and angry over the partisan circus that has produced seemingly endless gridlock in Albany.

This week, the Republicans gather to nominate their gubernatorial choice, ostensibly the person who they believe will “fix the mess” in the state capital. But what voters are likely to see won’t inspire confidence.  But if it’s intrigue they’re looking for, there’s likely to be plenty.

Politico reports on rumors of a possible coup against busybody party chairman Ed Cox, although who might replace him isn’t exactly clear. His effort to deny Rick Lazio the guber nod by luring Long Island Democrat Steve Levy into the GOP’s big tent has turned into a colossal strategic blunder. Levy can’t find a Light Guv dance partner, nor is it certain he can even get himself on the ballot.

Just last week Myers Mermel (wasn’t he Roger Rabbit’s long lost uncle?) jumped into the race, which already included mercurial and controversial wealthy Upstate businessman Carl Paladino. Politico reports that party leaders expressed dismay with Cox on a recent conference call.

The party’s vice chairs – there are ten of them – held a conference call over the weekend with Cox, during which many of them expressed displeasure and confusion over the entrance of Myers Mermel, a fourth gubernatorial hopeful, into the race at the last minute. Cox himself sounded weary on the call, insiders said.

Cox has said he had nothing to do with Mermel getting in, although he revealed the candidacy to reporters before the candidate himself would confirm it.

Many Republican insiders privately say they find the timing of the businessman’s move, to drop his stand-alone LG bid and seek the top job just as the chairman’s recruited pick, Steve Levy, seemed to be stalled, questionable.

As the GOP’s circus comes to town, it makes Andrew Cuomo look like the only one capable of fixing the mess in Albany.

Categories : GOP Civil War, New York
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May
30

IA: The GOP’s Existential Crisis

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The Des Moines Register blog has a post up asking, “Who will win battle for GOP soul?

It’s a fascinating look at the power struggle between the discordant elements vying for control of the Republican agenda in the crucial, first-in-the-nation presidential nominating state. The outcome of the gubernatorial primary contest may reveal whether or not we are on the cusp of a Republican renaissance and, if so, what might a GOP-led future look like?

Their choice will send a message about the direction they seek for their party: Should it be a big-tent organization that reaches out to independents and Democrats, or a base-pleasing model of social conservative purity? The bigger question won’t be answered until Nov. 2: Will adherents of each vision coalesce around a common candidate – or stay home?

Many high-ranking Republicans would rather not talk about this battle for the soul of the Iowa GOP. They insist Republicans will support their nominee, whether it’s presumed front-runner former Gov. Terry Branstad, or his top challenger, social conservative darling Bob Vander Plaats, and that all this is the healthy airing of views during a primary.

While many outsiders look at Branstad as a formidable favorite in November (most surveys show he would be favored over Culver), unifying the diverse blocs in the state GOP may not prove all that easy for the former governor.  Iowa’s social conservatives represent a powerful bloc within the state GOP and many of them simply don’t view Branstad as conservative enough. Led by the Iowa Family PAC, conservatives have gone a step further than simply endorsing Vander Plaats. They’ve promised to withhold their support from Branstad if he winds up the party’s nominee.

Bryan English, spokesman for Iowa Family PAC, views the primary as a watershed moment for Iowa Republicans.

“This primary is about so much more than any one issue. This primary is about the overarching philosophy that will lead us into the fall of 2010 and will set the stage for the presidential caucuses of 2012,” he said. “I think the people of Iowa will send Washington a message that we’re tired of the party establishment on both sides of aisle force-feeding us the same candidates year after year.”

Further complicating Branstad’s general election chances is the Tea Party’s emergence. Many in the anti-establishment grassroots view Branstad as part of the problem, not the solution.

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