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 Health Care


Guber Quick Hits, 2/3/11

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California: Gov. Jerry Brown’s strategists are considering pursuing holding his proposed special election to extend taxes exclusively by mail. It’s not clear whether ‘going postal’ would help or hurt the chances of winning.

Florida: Politico writes about Gov. Rick Scott’s desire to muzzle the media.

Iowa: Of the nine finalists nominated to fill the three Supreme Court vacancies, one donated to Gov. Terry Branstad’s winning campaign while another made a contribution to Chet Culver.

New Jersey: Gov. Chris Christie, the darling of small government tea partiers, has signed two bills that “increase his dominion” over recession-ravaged Atlantic City.

Texas: Gov. Rick Perry is delivering the keynote address at next week’s CPAC gathering.

Texas II: Could the budget hole be so deep that it threatens funding for high school football?

Virginia: Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has requested an expedited Supreme Court review of Virginia’s challenge to the federal health care law. Since most legal observers expect a denial from the high court, you have to wonder about Cuccinelli’s motivation. Keeping his name in the headlines on this issue positions him as the GOP front-runner for the 2013 gubernatorial race.

Wisconsin: Gov. Scott Walker declared a state of emergency due to the blizzard yesterday, urging motorists to stay off the roads and closed state offices to the public, but then told state workers they had to come to work or take a vacation day.

And from beyond the StateHouses:

Are we heading for a fourth wave election? One prognosticator thinks the Dems may be able to catch a wave in 2012.

With the Census Bureau reporting that racial minorities accounted for 85% of the nation’s population growth over the past decade, Latino activists expect “a minimum of nine additional Latino-majority House seats” when redistricting is said and done.

Is there room for two Mormons in the 2012 GOP presidential primary?


Guber Quick Hits, Thurs 9/2/10

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California: MegaBucks Whitman has released an ad targeted at Jerry Brown’s Bay Area stronghold in which she questions his accomplishments while mayor of Oakland between 1999-2007.

Colorado: GOP guber wannabe Dan Maes continues providing fodder for late night comedians. Now, he’s a super secret agent – at least in his own head he is.

Florida: The Sunshine State’s first gubernatorial debate of the general election between Alex Sink and Rick Scott will focus exclusively on children’s issues.

Massachusetts: Independent guber wannabe Tim Cahill had to admit this week that he’s failed to pay state taxes on interest earned by his campaign accounts over the past decade. Cahill owes the state approximately $15,000 – a major embarrassment to the candidate, especially considering he’s been the state treasurer for nearly two full terms.

Minnesota: DNC Chairman Tim Kaine was in Minneapolis campaigning for Mark Dayton, one of the party’s best hopes to pick up a gubernatorial seat currently held by the GOP.

Nebraska: Gov. Dave Heineman is catching some grief from editorial boards as well as Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson for the pressure he’s applied to education groups to support his efforts to opposed the new health care reform.

New Hampshire: Time to make the donuts? Gov. John Lynch has asked the state’s AG to look into some questionable donations to Republican challenger John Stephen’s guber campaign. The donations – most of which came from Dunkin Donuts franchises in Connecticut and Massachusetts – appear to exceed limits allowed under state law.

Oregon: Mitt Romney has been on a ten-week, 25-state political barnstorming tour across America. This week, The Mittster is in Oregon helping Chris Dudley’s gubernatorial campaign.

Rhode Island: Democratic gubernatorial wannabe Frank Caprio has joined Linc Chafee in opposing the loan deal Gov. Don Carcieri gave to former Red Sox pitcher Kurt Schilling’s video game company.

Texas: Rick Perry has set a debate deadline for Bill White. Perry has been dodging debates since the March primary – saying he won’t participate until his Democratic challenger releases all of his income tax returns. Now, he says if White doesn’t provide the information by September 15th, there will be no debate.


FL: McCollum ~ Kettle, Meet the Pot

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From the “How Do They Say This With a Straight Face?” File, Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum denounced the DOJ lawsuit challenging Arizona’s new immigration law as “highly political.” (h/t Florida Independent)

“I think the amended Arizona immigration law is fine. I have no problem with it at all. I support it,” McCollum said. “With regard to the president’s challenge, I think it’s a mistake on his part. I think it’s highly political. I think this administration has failed to adequately use the laws on the books to enforce immigration, especially on the border … I think he’s wrong. I think he’ll lose in court. I think states have the right to enforce their own laws.”

This, from the man who brought us the health-care lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the landmark legislation on the flimsiest of legal arguments. As the Florida Independent points out McCollum’s “lawsuit contains no references to legal precedent or Supreme Court decisions.

Nothing at all political when only Republicans have pushed the challenge hoping to ride the astroturfed anger over “socialized medicine” to victory at the ballot box this November.

I’m sure it didn’t cross McCollum’s mind that keeping voters agitated over a divisive issue might help him win Florida’s governorhip. Nosirree, Bob.

McCollum’s motives were as pure as the Gulfstream waters.

I’m a firm believer in the following maxim: if a Republican is denouncing a political rival of some nefarious backroom wheeling and dealing it’s a pretty safe assumption that the said politician is actually in fact doing that himself.  While it’s not exclusively a GOP affliction, it does seem (from my admittedly left-of-center perspective) to afflict Republicans more frequently, especially when they’re the minority party.

Bill McCollum is today’s Exhibit of “GOP Hypocrisy on Display.”

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Guber Quick Hits, Sat 6/19/10

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Arizona: Democrat Terry Goddard, who was recently named the Attorney General of the Year by the National Association of Attorneys General, is looking for a new campaign manager. Rodd McLeod is leaving the post at the end of Jun.

Colorado: With one-in-three Colorado voters saying they consider themselves part of the Tea Party movement, the Rocky Mountain State ranks as the top Tea Party state in the nation, according to Rasmussen.

Connecticut: Democratic guber hopefuls Ned Lamont and Dannell Malloy were quick to call for Hartford Mayor Eddie Perez’s resignation after he was found guilty on five of six charges in his corruption trial Friday. Perez, who supported Malloy’s guber bid in 2006 and had endorsed Lamont this year learned how quickly a convicted official gets thrown under the bus.

Georgia: Hoping to avoid negative publicity prior to the July 20th primary, GOP guber wannabe John Oxendine  may have temporarily dodged a bullet this week when a Fulton County judge blocked the State Ethics Commission from discussing a lawsuit on an investigation into insurance industry campaign contributions at their June 24th hearing. The two sides were given until July 2 to meet on the lawsuit by July 2. The Oxendine camp hopes the insurance companies effort to get the suit dismissed proves successful or they could be garnering negative headlines in the closing weeks of the primary contest.

Hawaii: Negative press coverage and criticism from other candidates about a Mufi Hannemann fundraiser in Pittsburgh, PA hosted by a former executive of a company hoping to sell railway cars to Honolulu’s proposed transit system has caused the campaign to announce it wouldn’t accept contributions from the event.

Oregon: Only a week after Democrats rejected a special legislative session to address Oregon’s huge budget deficit, they’re now saying it’s a real possibility as the reality of the deep cuts necessary to close the gap settles in.

Oregon II: The Independent Party of Oregon is planning to attempt a first-in-the-nation internet primary this summer.

South Carolina: Talking Points Memo has a round-up of the 2012 GOP presidential contenders’ courtship of gubernatorial candidates, especially Nikki Haley.

Tennessee: Rep. Zach Wamp doesn’t miss a chance to rail against “Obamacare” on the campaign trail as he runs for governor. But, when the GOP tried to force a vote to actually repeal the measure (in a motion to recommit) the Wampster was nowhere to be seen.

Wisconsin: Mark Neumann brings a gun to the airport as part of his effort to highlight what he sees as Scott Walker’s flip-flopping on concealed weapons.


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.


Guber Quick Hits, Sat 5/22/10

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Alabama: The phone lines “blew up” on Paul Finebaum’s radio show over the hottest topic in the GOP gubernatorial primary this week. Was it immigration? The oil spill threatening the state’s coast? Those incessant attack ads? Nope. Was Crimson Tide football.

“It’s the most engaged they (callers) have been in regards to Alabama politics in a long time, but of course we’re talking about something bigger than Alabama politics — Nick Saban,” Finebaum told The Birmingham News tonight.

For the record Tim James doesn’t plan of firing the championship coach. Not that he could.

Arizona: Gov. Jan Brewer’s decision to sign the state’s notorious immigration legislation has put her Democratic guber rival into a political straitjacket. AG Terry Goddard is the one who will defend the law in court, despite his personal opposition.

Connecticut: Home-state poller Quinnipiac deserted the Nutmeg State this week, as it diverted polling resources from surveying the nomination contests for the open Governor’s race in favor of the red-hot Sestak-Specter primary. With the Blumenthal stunner rocking the political establishment, I wonder if they’re second-guessing the decision. The Q-Poll’s most recent Connecticut survey was taken in March and showed huge numbers of undecided voters in both guber races.

Illinois: GOP Light Guv hopeful Jason Plummer is defending his decision to withhold his income tax returns, arguing it would put his family’s businesses at a competitive disadvantage. He accused Gov. Pat Quinn of making it an issue to divert attention from his failed record as governor. ”It’s really frustrating to have an enabler of Rod Blagojevich try to question your ethics or transparency,” Plummer said.  The twenty-seven year old newcomer knows how to play hardball.

Minnesota: DFL-endorsed guber hopeful Margaret Anderson Kelliher picked budget wonk John Gunyou as her Light Guv dance partner. As the Speaker, she’s been intimately familiar with the state’s fiscal woes and this pick certainly signals she wants to get serious about tackling the state’s budget challenges. Or, with a name like that, maybe she’s targeting the NRA vote?

Utah: Not sure if Gov Gary Herbert and the state leg heard about what happened to Robert Bennett a few weeks ago, but I’m not sure how going along with healthcare reform is going to go over with the Tea Party. I’m guessing not well.


McCollum’s Headaches Get Worse

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Politico reports that anti-health care reform advocate and disgraced former HCA CEO Rick Scott has already purchased $4.7 million worth of advertising time on Florida TV and radio through May14. That equals the TOTAL amount GOP front-runner Bill McCollum has raised since he entered the race twelve months ago.

The Republican Party of Florida had essentially worked to clear the field for the AG (and former Clinton impeachment manager). But the RPOF has had numerous distractions and challenges of late. It’s been embroiled in a credit card scandal. The meteoric rise of an upstart US Senate challenger resulted in the defection of it’s formerly rising political star (and incumbent governor) who has discovered his veto pen. Now, as oil oozes toward the state’s pristine beaches threatening  the foundation of Florida’s economy, the RPOF’s steadfast support of offshore drilling has suddenly become an uncomfortably sticky and potentially slippery political liability.

But it turns out all those headaches may be nothing compared to the migraine Rick Scott might create for poor Bill McCollum.

Scott, a deep-pocketed “outsider” whose notoriety in fighting against healthcare reform gives him the TEA Party street cred that could sink former impeachment manager Bill McCollum’s seemingly preordained march to the Republican nomination. The multi-millionaire introduces himself to Floridians:

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Monday’s Must-Reads

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Georgia: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution notes the issues that dominated the just-completed legislative session are likely to dominate the 2010 elections and be more challenging by the time the next governor is sworn in. Not surprisingly, the issues here echo those across the nation – budget deficit, taxes and education. A looming hole is the $1 billion dollars in federal stimulus money propping up the current budget isn’t likely to be there next year.

South Carolina: Proving that all politics is local even in this era of jet travel, Columbia’s efforts to entice Southwest Airlines to add the state capital to the discount airlines network puts gubernatorial hopefuls in a quandary as they seek to satisfy their geographic base and reach out to other regions in the Palmetto State.

Virginia: A case of buyer’s remorse? Illustrating just how difficult it is to govern from the extremes, conservative activists are abandoning Governor Bob McDonnell only 6 months after his much-heralded victory in the Old Dominion. The WaPo reports that, despite high-profile attempts to appease them, conservative leaders are denouncing McDonnell as a “typical politician” and “gutless.” Ouch. Could this be a warning sign to others in the GOP? Perhaps those Tea Party invites should include a warning label?


Healthcare Reform: With the deadline for states to decide whether to opt in on the high-risk health insurance pool past, The New York Times has a recap on which states said “yes” and which ones said “no.” Not surprisingly, it mostly breaks down on partisan lines. Big exceptions on the GOP side include New Jersey’s Chris Christie, California’s Arnold Schwarzenegger and Florida’s Charlie Crist (technically, he’s still a registered Republican, right?) GOP-led states refusing to participate include Georgia, Indiana, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada and Texas.

Another Sagebrush Rebellion?: Utah’s recently passed challenge to federal authority over vast tracts of Western lands has drawn national attention. has an intriguing article about this issue as a new front in the battle between the states and national government.

Chuck Grassley may be grabbing the national headlines, but he’s not the only one roiling up the conservative base across rural Iowa during the dog days of August. Iowa gubernatorial candidate Christopher Rants is charging that fellow Republican Bob Vander Plaats’ campaign promise to have the Hawkeye state seize control of Medicare and Medicaid would simply “break the bank.”

Vander Plaats, the favored candidate of The Huckster and Chuckie Norris, has drunk the tea-bagging secessionist water (they must have tossed aside the Acai Berry Rejuvenation and Chamomile Relaxation flavors in favor of their homegrown Secessionist Rebellion concoction)  and is sounding like Texas Governor Rick Perry on the campaign trail. Like Perry, Vander Plaats thinks Iowans can go it alone when it comes to health-care.

“It’s time we have a governor who will stand up for the 10th amendment and Iowa’s sovereignty from the federal government and say, ‘We will run our own health care in the state of Iowa. We will not let the government run our health care for us,’ ” Vander Plaats said at a Dallas County GOP picnic.

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