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

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Archive for Iowa

Feb
03

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?

Oct
13

Guber Quick Hits, Wed 10/13/10

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Florida: The Republican chair of the Florida Public Service Commission Nancy Argenziano burned more than a few bridges as she left office three months early to endorse Democrat Alex Sink’s guber bid. She didn’t mince words about Rick Scott (he’ll increase energy rates), her fellow Republicans (they’re “clowns”) and the PSC (a “fetid pit”). Just to make sure she’s persona non grata in GOP circles, she also backed Charlie Crist’s indy run for US Senate.

Georgia: Is this too much ‘inside baseball?’ Democrat Roy Barnes is claiming Nathan Deal’s campaign collected contributions from groups of companies and political committees that are affiliated with one  another and each group may legally give only $6,100 per election. The Barnes campaign is demanding Deal return nearly $137K as a result.

Illinois: Vice President Joe Biden spent yesterday campaigning with Gov. Pat Quinn at a rally dubbed “Putting Illinois Back to Work.”

Iowa: Democrats appear to be holding their own in absentee voting, compared with the absentee totals from 2006.

Maryland: Martin O’Malley is one of the Democratic incumbents not afraid to embrace his party’s heritage. Last week, it was President Obama making an appearance at an O’Malley campaign event. Next up is former President Bill Clinton, who will be helping raise money and headlining a Baltimore campaign rally.

Massachusetts: One of Republican challenger Charlie Baker’s central attack lines on Gov. Deval Patrick has been that he’s in the pockets of the state’s labor unions. This might explain why he isn’t trumpeting the endorsement he’s just received from the State Police Association, even though it would burnish the ‘law and order’ credentials politicians often seek.

Tennessee: Front-running Republican Bill Haslam continues pouring his personal fortune into his gubernatorial campaign, while his Democratic rival Mike McWherter isn’t as willing to invest more of his personal wealth into the contest. 

Texas: When does all of this big donor payback stuff begin to hurt Rick Perry among those enraged Tea Party types?

Utah: It appears ads attacking Democratic challenger Peter Corroon have been produced and focused grouped but nixed by Gov. Gary Herbert. One wonders if that simply reveals confidence in the polls showing the incumbent comfortably ahead, or a true desire to take the ethical high road?

Vermont: As tests reveal that radioactive leaks from the aging Vermont Yankee nuclear plant may have contaminated drinking water, Democrat Peter Shumlin is stepping up his demands that the plant owner must move more quickly on cleaning up the damage. He’s trying to make it one of the defining issues between himself and Republican guber nominee Brian Dubie.

Sep
16

Guber Quick Hits, Thurs 9/16/10

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Arkansas: Democratic incumbent Mike Beebe’s campaign has been endorsed by 73 of Arkansas’ 75 sheriffs.

California: Today marks the day the Golden State’s budget impasses moves into record-setting territory, as it surpasses the previous record set in 2008. To mark the occasion, Democratic guber wannabe Jerry Brown unveiled a proposal that would start next year’s budget plan from scratch. Is “zero-based budgeting” workable or simply an election year gimmick?

Florida: Rick Scott has made it clear he’s opposed to Obama’s stimulus spending, arguing during the guber primary that he would “fight all the stimulus money.” It’s somewhat awkward, then, that a firm he’s heavily invested in just received $36.1 million in Recovery Act funding to build a fiber-optic network in rural Louisiana.

Iowa: Hawkeye State Dems are hoping to use Sarah Palin’s upcoming visit to rally the base.

Iowa II: A piece of information that seems to be counterintuitive to the prevailing political narrative over the GOP’s huge enthusiasm gap. Democratic requests for absentee ballots in Iowa outnumber Republicans by nearly 3-1.

Nebraska: Democrat Mike Meister is trying to make the placement of TransCanada’s proposed oil pipeline across the Ogallala Aquifer an issue in his campaign against Gov. Dave Heineman. Meister says running it across the aquifer is too risky while Heineman says he isn’t focused on the issue.

Nevada: Rory (the younger) Reid has indicated he would sign a state budget that included tax increases, if it came across his desk. This represents a significant shift in the tax-averse Silver State, where candidates of all ideological stripes adhere to a no new tax mantra. With Rory trailing Republican Brian Sandoval badly in every public poll, is this shift a profile in courage or an act of political desperation?

New Mexico: Bill Clinton is doing yeoman’s work this campaign season. He’ll be joining Diane Denish on the trail next month.

Oregon: After falling far behind Republican Chris Dudley in the race for big campaign checks, Democrat John Kitzhaber has begun raking in donations from the state’s unions.

Vermont: After the drawn-out Democratic primary, it’s probably not all that surprising Peter Shumlin has less money in the bank than Lt. Gov Brian Dubie, who had no opposition in the GOP primary. But his $62,000 is a lot less than the $410,000 Dubie’s got in his warchest.

Wisconsin: Mark Neumann won more counties than Scott Walker in Tuesday’s GOP primary, but he lost overall because Walker dominated him in the populous suburban Milwaukee counties, a region that has become the key for Republican victories in the Badger State.

Sep
04

Guber Quick Hits, Sat 9/4/10

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Alaska: The Alaska Independence Party, which got a lot of exposure when Sarah and Todd first burst onto the political scene (remember their calls for Alaskan secession?) – is mulling over whether to endorse Republican Bill Walker as their gubernatorial candidate.

Colorado: Fellow Tea Party favorite GOP Senate nominee Ken Buck is the latest Republican to abandon the sinking ship that is Dan Maes’ gubernatorial campaign.

Florida: The national governors’ groups are going all in in the Sunshine State. The Fox News-backed RGA has announced it’s sending $2 million as part of the party’s efforts to unify after the bruising Bill McCollum/Rick Scott primary brawl. The DGA has answered with a pledge of $1 million to support Alex Sink’s candidacy.

Iowa: Could DeCoster’s rotten eggs destroy Democratic chances in the Hawkeye State this November?

Maryland: Underdog Brian Murphy certainly knows his target audience as he runs his bare-bones, long shot primary challenge to Bob Ehrlich. His first (and likely only) television ad is airing during Glenn Beck’s 5 o’clock happy hour on Fox News.

Maryland II: It may be a function of high name ID for both presumed guber nominees or it may be the expense of going up on TeeVee in the DC media market, but both Martin O’Malley and Bob Ehrlich have both yet to pull the trigger and begin advertising in the vote-rich DC suburbs.

Massachusetts: After trailing both his opponents in the money race throughout the campaign, Gov. Deval Patrick seriously picked up the pace in August.

Minnesota: Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal will be helping GOP guber nominee Tom Emmer raise money. Considered a potential 2012 GOP presidential candidate, Jindal’s trip north brings him into the territory of another (more) likely presidential contender, MN Gov. Tim Pawlenty.

New Mexico: The sudden resignation of the chairman of the Educational Retirement Board over a controversial loan has sparked accusations over public ethics between the gubernatorial campaigns. Democrat Diane Denish – who has spent a lot of time trying to separate herself from Gov. Bill Richardson and the ethical troubles surrounding his Santa Fe political cadre – has already donated personal contributions from the disgraced Richardson appointee to a non-profit that supports early-childhood education professionals (although she’s keeping donations from his law firm).

Oregon: Political observers are beginning to ponder the possibility that Oregon voters may not get a debate between gubernatorial hopefuls John Kitzhaber and Chris Dudley.

South Carolina: Nikki Haley – former GOP golden boy Mark Sanford’s protege is trying to differentiate herself from how Sanford governs and is pointing out decisions he’s made with which she disagrees. Sanford has had a rocky relationship with the Republican legislature and many in the party establishment have been hesitant to embrace Haley because they fear a similarly antagonistic relationship. To ease those worries, Haley is promising to work with the legislative branch – and will defer to the lawmakers on the creation of the state budget.

Sep
01

Guber Quick Hits, Wed 9/1/10

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California: MegaBucks Whitman may end up on a jury after all.

Iowa: The massive, nationwide egg recall has become an issue in the Iowa gubernatorial contest, as Republican Terry Branstad has denounced the Democratic AG Tom Miller of cutting a deal with Jack DeCoster – the egg producer identified as a ‘habitual violator’ of state environmental laws – and linking that leniency to a $10,000 campaign donation to Miller. Miller claims Branstad’s got the facts wrong – but has returned the campaign donation. Governor Chet Culver has tried to pass the oversight responsibility off to the feds.

Maine: Independent guber wannabe Elliot Cutler is finding a middle ground when it comes to environmental policy in the Pine Tree State. He doesn’t support rolling back the state’s environmental regulations but he does want to eliminate the Board of Environmental Protection – whose 10 citizen members are an obstacle blocking  Maine’s economic growth.

Maryland: Former Gov. Bob Ehrlich is looking for votes in unexpected places in his rematch against Gov. Martin O’Malley, the WaPo reports.

Michigan: The Tea Party of Michigan is appealing last week’s court decision that blocked the party from fielding candidates on November’s ballot. The party, which Republicans criticize as a Democratic Party-inspired effort to drain votes from GOP candidates, was tossed from the ballot because the font on the party’s petitions was the incorrect size for the “THE” in the party’s name.

Minnesota: After backing Republican Tim Pawlenty’s successful gubernatorial bids in 2002 and 2006, the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis switched parties this time around and is backing DFL nominee Mark Dayton.

Nevada: GOP Senate nominee Sharron Angle is questioning why GOP guber nominee Brian Sandoval didn’t stand up to former Gov. Kenny Guinn in 2003 when the governor challenged a voter-passed constitutional amendment requiring a two-thirds vote to increase taxes. It’s not usually a good thing to see separation between a party’s top nominees on a statewide ballot, but Sandoval may not mind having some distance between himself and Angle as he aims for support from the middle.

New Mexico: GOP nominee Susana Martinez is vowing to repeal New Mexico’s medical marijuana law if she’s elected governor.

South Carolina: Democrat Vincent Sheheen has proposed a series of five Lincoln-Douglas debates with Republican nominee Nikki Haley.

Texas: Democrat Bill White is hoping to tap into some of the anti-incumbent anger roiling the nation this year by calling for a referendum to limit the Lone Star State governor to two four-year terms. Could it be the tactic that reminds people of just how long Rick Perry has been sitting pretty in the Austin Governor’s Mansion? It didn’t work for Kay Bailey Hutchison in the GOP primary, but could it resonate among the broader electorate?

Vermont: While GOP guber nominee Brian Dubie awaits the winner of the Democratic recount he hasn’t shied away from attacking all the Democrats still standing as ‘pro-tax’ and has challenged the eventual winner to a series of a dozen debates. In the meantime, the Democrats have unified – and are campaigning together as they await the recount.

Aug
14

Guber Quick Hits, Sat 8/14/10

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Arizona: Democrat Terry Goddard is spending his Clean Elections grant for the primary at a much slower pace than his Republican counterpart, Jan Brewer.

Iowa: Former Des Moines School Board member Jonathan Narcisse – who flirted with running in the Democratic primary against Gov. Chet Culver – reports he’s gathered the required signatures to qualify for the ballot as an independent.

Iowa II: Campaigning like it’s 1982. Embattled Democratic Gov. Chet Culver, trailing former GOP Gov. Terry Branstad by large margins in every publicly released poll of the contest, has turned to his father – a former US Senator – to help him on the campaign trail.

Maine: Talk about party unity. Democratic guber nominee Libby Mitchell has enlisted the support of her former primary foes to head her policy committees.

Maryland: Former Gov. Bob Ehrlich has proposed a series of five debates (three on the radio, two on the TeeVee) against Democratic incumbent Martin O’Malley. O’Malley, clearly hoping to elevate the profile of long-shot candidate Brian Murphy,  says he’s happy to debate the Republican nominee  - once the GOP primary determines a winner.

Texas: Rick Perry has steadfastly refused to debate Democratic challenger Bill White until White releases every scintilla of his personal financial and tax information. Now, he’s announced he won’t meet with any Lone Star State editorial boards prior to the election.

Wyoming: Matt Mead has invested nearly $900K of his own money in his effort to win the GOP guber nod in the Cowboy State. That’s a huge sum in the nation’s least populous state, where a closely contested primary victory could require less than 50,000 votes.

Aug
11

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?

The emerging conventional wisdom among the chattering classes is that yesterday’s landmark legal ruling by Judge Vaughn Walker that California’s Proposition 8 violated the U.S. Constitution on both due process and equal protection grounds places Democrats, particularly President Obama, in an unenviable political predicament heading into the November mid-terms.

The president, who has skillfully ducked and bobbed around the contentious issue, is probably thankful he’s not on the ballot this time around. The decision may hurt a handful of already endangered congressmen by further motivating the conservative base, but considering how the question of marriage equality has roiled state capitals for a decade now, but will it affect the governor’s contests?

Over at 538 there are a couple of relevant posts about the decision’s potential affects. Nate analyzes whether or not gay marriage could be resurrected as a potent force as it was in 2004 following Massachusetts historic legalization of same-sex marriage. He observes that the Tea Party’s relative silence on the issue has been a wise political strategy, even if its been accidental. The GOP Establishment, however, has shown an eagerness to push their anti-gay marriage position.

And that’s where the GOP might overreach.

After watching Pat Buchanan foaming at the mouth like it was the 1992 GOP convention this morning, it seems the issue may prove far too tempting for the homophobes to prevent themselves from showing their rabid homophobia – and potentially turning off moderate (and younger voters).

As another 538 post graphically shows, gay marriage is gaining support in every state (except Utah). While it garners majority support in only a handful of states, conservatives should tread lightly in revealing their inner Archie Bunkers, or they could further alienate younger voters and actually give them a reason to go to the polls this November. Could Pat Buchanan once again help motivate otherwise apathetic voters to get to the polls again? Nate wonders whether or not Sarah Palin will be able to refrain herself from jumping into the fray…

Read More→

Jul
29

Guber Quick Hits, Thurs 7/29/10

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California: Arnold Schwarzenegger wouldn’t beat the man he replaced seven years ago, according to new numbers from Public Policy Polling.

Colorado: Embattled GOP guber wannabe Dan Maes is denying that he’s dropping out of the race, as robocalls targeting his campaign supporters claim.

Florida: Embattled GOP guber wannabe Bill McCollum announced yesterday that the Florida Chamber of Commerce set precedent by backing his gubernatorial campaign.

Iowa: GOP guber wannabe Terry Branstad’s campaign Winnebago is a campaign No No!

Minnesota: Does threatening to kill  your estranged wife kill a political career these days?

New York: Rick Lazio’s floundering gubernatorial campaign may face senior staff departures.

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Jul
20

Guber Quick Hits, Tues 7/20/10

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Iowa: GOP guber nominee Terry Branstad is setting a frantic fundraising pace, as he’s raised $2.1 million in six weeks, although at least $500K is from Uncle Haley’s RGA.  But Branstad isn’t the only Hawkeye feeling the national love. A full third of the money incumbent Gov. Chet Culver has raised since 2009 has come from the DGA.

Kansas: Sam Brownback is cruising to the Republican gubernatorial nomination according to a new Survey USA poll. The most surprising thing is that Joan Heffington is actually garnering almost 20% of GOP primary voters. It begs the question, “what’s the matter with Kansas?”

Kentucky: Bluegrass State voters won’t be electing a governor until 2011, but rumors are already circulating about potential GOP candidates who might take on Democratic incumbent Steve Beshear.

Maryland: Everyone who’s anyone in Maryland politics will be on the Eastern Shore Wednesday at the 34th annual J. Millard Crab & Clam Bake in Crisfield.

Michigan: GOP guber wannabe Pete Hoekstra is joining Michele Bachmann’s Tea Party caucus.

Minnesota: The state chapter of the National Organization for Women, which had earlier endorsed Matt Entenza in the DFL guber primary contest, decided to add Margaret Anderson Kelliher to their endorsement slate. It seems strange that if they had planned on multiple endorsements all along, why weren’t they announced at the same time?

Ohio: Gov. Ted Strickland picked up the support of the Fraternal Order of Police of Ohio in his reelection effort.

Texas: President Obama is planning a Lone Star State fundraising road trip to Houston and Austin. Gubernatorial candidate Bill White won’t be at his side, as his spokeswoman says the former Houston mayor’s schedule that week is “jam packed.”