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 Immigration

Democrat Terry Goddard’s newest TeeVee ad really goes after Gov. Jan Brewer’s connections to the owners of private prisons doing business in the state.

The private prison profiteers have a direct line to “Brewer for Governor,” Goddard’s camp claims in the ad.

Goddard wants to undercut Brewer’s law-and-order creds by linking her to the violent prison break earlier this summer. The story of convicts who went on a deadly rampage across the Interior West garnered national headlines.  Goddard would like it to become a central issue in the governor’s race.

Goddard’s effort might persuade voters who respond to reality-based arguments, but it’s unlikely to convince  voters who have Brewer-induced nightmares of  beheaded bodies littering the Arizona desert and rampaging gangs of illegal immigrants pillaging the cities and towns.

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Alabama’s gubernatorial candidates are on the TeeVee airwaves and their choice of issues reveals the vast differences between the two major parties. The Democrat’s message is about investment and hope for a better future while the Republican opts to play on people’s fears, worry and frustration over

One of the issues Democrat Ron Sparks hopes can propel him to an unexpected victory in the Alabama gubernatorial contest against Republican Robert Bentley is the creation of a state lottery to help Alabama’s children pay for a college education. Bentley chooses to

In the Democrat’s ad, Sparks’ campaign plays a grainy clip of Bentley denouncing the idea of an education lottery making the argument that it’s not the government’s responsibility to provide a college education, nor does every child deserve to go to college. Sparks responds that every child deserves a chance.

Bentley, who emerged from a fractious GOP primary where one of his opponents, Tim James, garnered national attention with his “We Speak English Here” campaign ad, has chosen immigration as his post-Labor Day general election opening message airing across the state’s airwaves. To his credit, it’s a softer, more mature message, but it’s still built on fear, not hope.

Bentley also blames the problem of illegal immigration on voters’ favorite bogeyman – the federal government. There’s no question immigration is a federal issue – and state politicians (in the current economic and political climate there are both Republicans and Democrats running for governor across the country denouncing the federal failures on securing the borders) banging the drums on the issue in an election year is more about posturing and winning votes than anything else.

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Guber Quick Hits, TGIF 9/3/10

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Alaska: Democrat Ethan Berkowitz received the endorsement of Alaska’s AFL-CIO.

California: The defense attorney in a high-profile child molestation trial has excused GOP guber wannabe Meg Whitman from the jury pool. The trial – which could take up to a month – would’ve forced Whitman to essentially abandon the campaign trail in the closing weeks of her race against Jerry Brown.

California II: MegaBucks Whitman’s $100 million dollar primary campaign still wasn’t the most expensive California campaign, when measured by cost-per-vote. The $65 per vote was $5 short of Al Checchi’s failed 1998 Democratic gubernatorial primary run.

Colorado: Tom Tancredo’s insurgent candidacy has raised $200K since he first announced in July.

Florida: Hoping to put the contentious immigration issue on the back burner, Hispanic Republicans are urging Rick Scott to put job creation and the economy at the center of his general election strategy.

Kansas: Former Flroida Gov. Jeb Bush joined Sam Brownback on the campaign trail this week.

Maryland: What’s a long-time foe of early voting to do when he’s on the ballot and early voting gets underway? If you’re Bob Ehrlich, you (kinda) accept the new reality and urge supporters to join you in voting early. If you’re one of his opponents, you don’t miss the opportunity to point out the former governor’s hypocrisy.

Nevada: According the WaPo’s Fix, the enthusiasm gap seen favoring Republican candidates during the current election cycle is widest in the Silver State, where Brian Sandoval and Rory Reid are tied among registered voters but Sandoval holds a wide (50-39%) lead among likely voters.

Oregon: John Kitzhaber has been falling behind GOP challenger Chris Dudley in amassing large checks from campaign donors. Kitzhaber is trying to close the gap by gathering big checks from labor groups, including a $100,000 check from AFSCME.

South Carolina: Conservative stalwart Sen. Jim DeMint has released a web video that challenges GOP guber nominee Nikki Haley on school choice. One of her signature issues as a legislator has been expanding parental choice in education but she recently said it would not be a priority for her if she becomes governor, surprising many conservatives. Is DeMint trying to get her back on point?

Utah: Democratic challenger Peter Corroon is raising impressive sums for a Utah Democrat, but he’s spending it nearly as fast as he brings it in.


Guber Quick Hits, Thurs 8/12/10

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California: San Diego Charges owner Alex Spanos – a longtime GOP donor – has donated $20,000 to Democrat Jerry Brown’s guber campaign. The donation is even more unusual considering Brown opposed Spanos in a 2008 land use dispute in Stockton.

Colorado: It says a lot about the current state of Republican politics when Tom Tancredo sounds like the voice of reason on immigration policy.

Maryland: Incumbent Martin O’Malley’s campaign war chest dwarfs that of Bob Ehrlich. The Democrat has $6.7 million in the bank while the Republican is hoping to have about $3 million for the upcoming rematch of their 2006 campaign.

Nevada: Tired of his GOP opponent Brian  (“my kids look American”) Sandoval ducking debates, Rory (“I ain’t no Senator’s Son”) Reid forces an impromptu debate at a candidate luncheon.

New York: The bumbling in Albany continues, as Gov. David Paterson signed the wrong budget earlier this month.

Tennessee: Democratic guber wannabe Mike McWherter is accusing GOP nominee Bill Haslam of ‘ducking debates.’ Since this happens in nearly every race where there is a perceived front-runner, is this news?

Vermont: Democratic guber hopeful Matt Dunne’s latest TV ad includes a photo of the candidate with longtime Democratic Senator Pat Leahy but the senator’s office denies the appearance is an endorsement of any kind. The liberal icon is remaining neutral in the five-way Democratic primary.

Wisconsin: Former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge endorsed Scott Walker in the GOP primary saying the Milwaukee County Executive has “a proven record of leadership.”


Guber Quick Hits, Wed 8/11/10

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Alaska: Gov. Sean Parnell has temporarily suspended his election campaign in the aftermath of the plane crash that killed former Senator Ted Stevens.

California: GOP guber wannabe MegaBucks Whitman’s effort to woo critical Latino voters has sparked a feud among conservative talk radio hosts. LA radio talkers “John and Ken” have been highly critical of eMeg’s move to the middle on the contentious issue of immigration. Sacramento talk jockey Eric Hogue is denouncing his conservative colleagues for creating “a summer radio ratings stunt.”

Florida: Does Rick Scott prove the adage, ‘once a cheater, always a cheater?’ More allegations of overbilling Medicare surface in the closing weeks of the contentious GOP guber primary.

Iowa: The Hawkeye State guber contest between current Democratic Gov. Chet Culver and former Republican Gov. Terry Branstad will have a series of three head-to-head debates, according to the Branstad campaign.

Iowa II: Despite some social conservatives waving the white flag of surrender over same-sex marriage following federal Judge Vaughn Walker’s Prop 8 decision, vanquished guber wannabe Bob Vander Plaats is digging in and vowing an all-out effort to oust the three ‘activist justices’ who brought gay marriage to the Hawkeye State. Tim Pawlenty has jumped on the “dump the judges” bandwagon as he positions himself for a 2012 presidential run.

Kansas: Despite being shellacked by Sam Brownback in the GOP guber primary, crazy Joan Heffington vows to soldier on as a write-in candidate.  (8/10)

Massachusetts: Gov. Deval Patrick wants a series of eight debates between Labor Day and Election Day.

Pennsylvania: Proving that the Tea Party tempest may be a Pandora’s box the GOP may come to regret opening, the conservative supporters of Tea Party fave Sam Rohrer have launched a write-in effort for governor. GOP nominee Tom Corbett treated Rohrer as little more than a nuisance during the primary. Will the race between Corbett and Democrat Dan Onorato be tight enough that Rohrer’s effort could drain enough conservative support to tip the race?


Guber Quick Hits, Thurs 7/15/10

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Alabama: On one side much of the attention was on the notorious ads that went viral. On the other, the focus was on the historic nature of a candidate who shunned his base. Overlooked in the Alabama gubernatorial contest – the nice guys finished first. It has people hoping for a positive, issues-oriented campaign this fall.

California: Term-limited incumbent Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is now just as unpopular as Gray Davis was when he was dumped by California voters in summer 2003.

Colorado: This is what a campaign death spiral looks like.

Florida: Rick Scott is banging the nativist drums. He’s urging the state legislature to take up the issue of immigration during the upcoming special session called by Gov. Charlie Crist to address the BP oil spill.

Minnesota: The Minnesota Progressive Project calls Emmer’s wildly vacillating position on wages and taxes for tipped workers ‘incoherent.’

New York: Buffalo businessman Carl Paladino says he’s gathered the necessary signatures to put him on the GOP primary ballot this September.

Pennsylvania: The company at the center of GOP guber wannabe Tom Corbett’s claims that the unemployed are sitting on their couches happily eating bon-bons tells a far different story.

Rhode Island: It looks like Democrats may avoid a bitter primary fight if reports that Patrick Lynch is planning to end his guber bid as early as today are true.

Texas: Democratic challenger Bill White reports having $9 million in the bank as of the end of June.


Guber Quick Hits, Wed 7/14/10

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Arizona: Gov. Jan Brewer has a pretty clear path the the GOP nomination, as another of her primary opponents, wealthy self-financer Buz Mills, ‘suspends’ his campaign.

Colorado: While Republican Scott McInnis watches his gubernatorial candidacy disintegrate, Democratic hopeful John Hickenlooper used his annual State of the City speech to trumpet Denver’s success at weathering the recession.

Iowa: GOP nominee Terry Branstad joins the nativist camp in calling for an Arizona-style immigration policy in Iowa.

Maryland: Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley is trumpeting the state’s AAA bond rating as proof of his administration’s fiscal stewardship.

Minnesota: Tom Emmer’s proposal to cut tipped employees’ minimum wage has morphed into a far different idea. Now he wants to make the first $20K servers and bartenders earn to be tax-free.

Nevada: Republican nominee Brian Sandoval’s campaign promises a series of three debates with Democrat Rory Reid, although the Reid campaign says that’s news to them.


Guber Quick Hits, Tues 7/13/10

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California: MegaBucks Whitman continues her efforts to whitewash her anti-immigrant rhetoric of the GOP primary, adding banner ads on Spanish-language websites as another avenue to connect with the Golden State’s Latino community.

Connecticut: Two court decisions – one federal, one state – were rendered today regarding Connecticut’s new Clean Elections public financing system. In a big blow to Republican Michael Fedele’s campaign against self-financer Tom Foley, the state decision struck down the provision’s “millionaire’s amendment.”

Florida: The last I heard, gluttony was considered one of the seven deadly sins.  Regardless of what it means in the afterlife, the RPOF’s binging could have political repercussions in both the US Senate and gubernatorial contests.

Illinois: Pat Quinn’s election effort is haunted by the specter of Rod Blagojevich.  The disgraced former governor’s corruption trial couldn’t be happening at a worse time for Quinn as he tries to win the governor’s mansion in his own name. Over the weekend, he signed a pair of ethics reform laws he hopes roots out corruption in Illinois and creates distance between the incumbent and the man he replaced.

Massachusetts: Deval Patrick is tweeting about the Bay State appearing as #5 in CNBC’s rankings of best state for business. It’s the first time a northeastern state has appeared in the media outlets Top 5.

Michigan: In the battle of establishment endorsements, House Speaker Andy Dillon picked up the support of former Detroit Mayor Dennis Archer while his Democratic opponent Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero added two US Congressmen and former guber wannabe state Rep. Alma Wheeler Smith to his stable of endorsers.

Minnesota: For some inexplicable reason, GOP guber wannabe Tom Emmer keeps the “waiters make too much money” storyline going. Over the weekend, he decided to wait tables for a shift and on Wednesday he plans  town hall meeting with restaurant servers as the audience.

Minnesota II: With nearly a month to go before the August 10th primary DFL candidates and DFL-leaning groups have spent nearly $2.2 million in television advertising.

Texas: Lone Star state Democrats – who were stung by Tom DeLay’s unorthodox (and possibly illegal) mid-decade redistricting maneuvers – are already crying ‘foul’ over the state GOP’s ‘unprecedented’ changes to the state’s redistricting process for next year.

As Arizona immigrant-rights activists hope to mobilize the Latino population into a powerful voting bloc capable of realigning the state’s traditional GOP political structure, Florida Republicans seem eager to embrace the controversial immigration law.

Someone within the Republican consultant circle should school these fools and remind them what happened to the California Republican Party when they pursued their immigrant bashing back in 1994. The short-term political gains accrued to Pete Wilson’s reelection doomed the state GOP to a fate of rump-party status.

While Arizona’s more homogeneous demographics make a lurch toward the Democrats like that which occurred in California a decade ago, Florida’s multicultural tapestry could make it far more likely to push the Sunshine State into the Democratic column. The loss of Florida could doom GOP presidential prospects for a generation.

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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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