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 Iowa


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.


IA: The GOP’s Uncivil Union

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This certainly wasn’t what Republican Terry Branstad hoped would happen when he picked Kim Reynolds as his Light Guv dance partner.

Republican lieutenant governor nominee Kim Reynolds saying Tuesday that she would be open to legalized civil unions for gay couples has drawn the ire of the very people she was sent out to court — evangelical voters.

Brought onto the campaign to bridge the schism between the GOP’s evangelical base and moderate establishment, Reynolds instead fell into the chasm and doesn’t seem to be able to crawl her way out from it. The social conservatives aren’t letting up in their public attacks on the Branstad/Reynolds ticket:

“It’s consistent with what we’ve seen out of the Branstad campaign all along,” Bryan English, a spokesman for the Iowa Family Policy Center, told the Quad-City Times’ Ed Tibbetts. “They’ve just failed to understand or adequately articulate the gravity of the issues they’re talking about.”

The IFPC endorsed Vander Plaats in the primary and has refused to endorse or assist Branstad in the fall campaign, primary due to his stance on social issues like same-sex marriage.

Continuing his line of attack from Wednesday, Christian radio host and Vander Plaats supporter Steve Deace said Thursday on his WHO-AM show that Reynolds’ answers show she’s a candidate of “positions and not convictions.” He called the interview a “complete meltdown.”

“And by the way, her positions are pretty good,” Deace said. “Her record in the state senate, private property rights aside, is pretty good. But the first time her worldview is challenged, and she has to go toe-to-toe with someone who has thought about their worldview but just came to a different conclusion, she does not have the moral conviction to withstand that scrutiny. And if you watch that video, she falls apart.”

The unanswered question at this point is whether this will entice Bob Vander Plaats to consider following through on his threat to launch an independent gubernatorial bid? An even larger question, how would national Republicans, especially those with 2012 presidential aspirations, react to a Vander Plaats candidacy?

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Guber Quick Hits, Mon 7/5/10

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Alabama: The state teachers union is questioning Bradley Byrne’s charitable foundation’s potentially illegal diversion of $200,000 to a Republican political operative.

Alaska: Someone up in the Last Frontier either has a sense of humor or hasn’t been paying attention to the anti-Obama rhetoric that spews from demagogue Glenn Beck every night.

Arizona: Jan Brewer’s latest outrageous claims about illegal immigration – that beheaded bodies are littering the desert – have been refuted by local law enforcement.

California: Democrat Jerry Brown wants voters to help him fix California’s “constipated” government.

Connecticut: Former GOP guber rivals Michael Fedele and Mark Boughton have combined their donor bases as part of their gubernatorial ticket to help qualify for public financing. They’re going to need it to catch up to uber-wealthy Greenwich businessman Tom Foley who holds big leads in most public polls.

Florida: After bashing each other for being the more pro-gay candidate, Bill McCollum scored the endorsement of the Florida Family Policy Council leader over rival Rick Scott.

Iowa: After flirting with mounting a primary challenge to Chet Culver, local publisher Jonathan Narcisse tells the Des Moines Register he’s back – and running as in independent this November.

Kansas: Gov. Mark Parkinson – a former state GOP chair and donor to Sam Brownback – has endorsed Democrat Tom Holland citing his proven track record of bipartisan accomplishment.

Nevada: It’s become a distinct possibility that Rory could lose the support of Nevada’s firefighters union to Republican Brian Sandoval.

New Hampshire: Republican guber nominee John Stephen cancelled the bikini-clad babes who were going to add some spice to a July 11th fundraiser after Democrats decried the event as an affront to women.

New Mexico: Will an all-Hispanic GOP gubernatorial ticket cause conservative Republican voters to abandon their party this November?

Oregon: Proving once again that cutting spending is more difficult than the rhetoric suggests, former Portland Trail Blazer Chris Dudley (and GOP guber wannabe) is lobbying Portland’s schools against cutting funding for PE.

Pennsylvania: GOP guber hopeful Tom Corbett is refusing a request by an environmental group to return a $3,000 donation from Anadarko Petroleum, one of the companies responsible for the Deepwater Horizon disaster.

Tennessee: In a game of who’s got the biggest Tea Party guest list, GOP guber wannabes trade lists.  First, it was Ron Ramsey touting how many Tea Partiers thought he was cool. Not to be outdone, Bill Haslam rolled out his roster a few days later.

Wyoming: Elderly pitchman Wilfred Brimley has cut a radio ad endorsing GOP candidate Rita Meyer. Here’s the audio in which he praises Meyer as a staunch supporter of state’s rights and her promise “to do her utmost to keep the federal government out of our business and most of all, out of our wallets.”

The GOP gubernatorial nominee Terry Branstad selected Sen. Kim Reynolds as his Lt. Governor running mate. It’s an interesting choice – she’s got a couple of DWIs in her distant past and has only been a state senator for two years.

Despite pressure from elements within the party to pick one of the two candidates he vanquished in the GOP primary, Rod Roberts and Bob Vander Plaats, Branstad bypassed both.

Vander Plaats has threatened to launch an independent candidacy if he wasn’t on the GOP ticket. Will he follow through on his threat?

During his announcement, Branstad tried to diffuse the internal tension and explain his choice.

“You’ll be happy to know there is no shortage of qualified candidates in Iowa Republicans who we can be very proud of who were considered for this position,” Branstad said.

Branstad noted Reynolds’ background as a veteran elected official in Clarke County, where she served four terms as treasurer. But he also mentioned the personal chemistry she and he have developed.

“I just thought the chemistry was really good, and I just think it’s really important to have a good personal relationship there too” Branstad said.

Video of Branstad’s announcement:

Categories : Iowa, Light Guv
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Guber Quick Hits, Wed, 6/23/10

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Colorado: Why is Republican Scott McInnis dodging press conferences?

Florida: Gov. Charlie Crist’s newfound independence has freed him from the conservative ideological constraints imposed on him by an activist base. The St. Pete Times editorializes that this new-found freedom has helped him move Florida forward.

Iowa: The anti-gay marriage group National Organization for marriage will be swarming like locusts across Iowa this summer – holding rallies in 22 cities to help launch a new initiative called The Reclaim Iowa Project.

Maryland: Gov. Martin O’Malley has been attacking former Gov. Bob Ehrlich as a “Big Oil lobbyist,” a claim The Baltimore Sun editorializes that he “goes too far” in a recent radio ad.

New York: An unprecedented 83% of New Yorkers believe their state government is dysfunctional according to the latest  polling from Quinnipiac. Nearly half (47%) are very dissatisfied with the way things are going in the Empire State these days and 4 out of 5 describe Albany’s failure to pass a budget (deadline was April 1) as a very serious problem. Now, why would anyone want to govern that mess?

Ohio: Someone on John Kasich’s campaign needs to give him some advice as to how to at least pretend to care about the LeBron question.

Pennsylvania: The Keystone State has experienced a rash of political corruption scandals unlike any seen in the state since the 1970s. The question in the guber race is which candidate can turn this to his advantage. Who can clean up the mess in the legislature?

Tennessee: The economist that gave the world “Reaganomics” (and the “Laffer curve“) has endorsed Republican Bill Haslam’s guber bid.

Texas: A public watchdog group has filed a complaint against Rick Perry over his lack of transparency over the more than $800,000 spent since 2001 on the governor’s interim residence.

Texas II: There’s more dissension brewing within the Lone Star State’s GOP. Leo Berman is planning to run against House Speaker Joe Straus, who Berman accuses of cutting a deal with House Democrats to win the position a year ago. If Berman succeeds in ousting Straus, expect Texas to become another lightning rod in the immigration debate.


Guber Quick Hits, Mon 6/21/10

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Alabama: After falling further behind in the GOP primary recount, guber hopeful Tim James accepted the obvious and ended his campaign Monday afternoon.

Arizona: GOP guber wannabe Buz Mills probably has the inside track on getting the NRA’s endorsement in his guber primary bid after he was elected to the powerful gun lobby group’s Executive Committee.

Connecticut: Ned Lamont chipped another $1 million of his personal funds into his campaign which triggered another public financing grant of $312,500 to fellow Democrat Dannell Malloy.

Florida: We now know just how much coin Rick Scott’s got – financial disclosure report filed Friday say he’s worth $218 million.

Illinois: Pawnbroker and ousted Democratic Light Guv nominee Scott Lee Cohen filed signatures today (the deadline) for his independent gubernatorial run.

Iowa: GOP insiders are lobbying Terry Branstad to pick Rod Roberts as his Light Guv running mate.

Minnesota: Of the five major candidates running for governor, only Republican Tom Emmer opposes legalizing same-sex marriage.

South Carolina: Slightly awkward – Nikki Haley will be celebrating her anticipated run-off victory at the South Carolina State Museum, an institution she voted to cut $1.64 million in state funding from just a week ago.

South Dakota: GOP nominee Dennis Daugaard picked former state House Speaker Matt Michels to be his Light Guv running mate. The selection means that all four men on the major party gubernatorial tickets hail from southeastern SD.

Texas: Some longtime Lone Star Republicans are crossing party lines to support Bill White’s guber bid.

Texas II: Despite it’s claim to being the fiscally responsible party, the Texas GOP finds itself struggling to pay off its debt.


Guber Quick Hits, Sun 6/20/10

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Alaska: Gov Sean Parnell is calling for federal compensation for Alaskans put out of work because of the federal moratorium on new offshore drilling.

Colorado: Despite a recent finding that the Rocky Mountain State was the top Tea Party state in America, the Colorado Republican Party has experienced a decline in registered voters.

Connecticut: In a blast from the Nutmeg State’s past, former Gov Lowell Weicker slammed state leaders for their ”insane fiscal practice” of borrowing to cover operating expenses and described Gov. Jodi Rell as “disinterested.”

Iowa: GOP guber nominee Terry Branstad is narrowing down his list of potential running mates. The Des Moines Register reports former Iowa State wrestling coach Jim Gibbons, who recently lost a congressional primary contest, is a new name being considered.

Michigan: Democratic Speaker Andy Dillon is taking some hits for hiring a Chicago ad firm to create his first guber TV ad, which touts his support for “hire Michigan first” legislation.

New Mexico: Republican guber nominee Susana Martinez has denied rumors circulating in the blogosphere that she’s the daughter of illegal immigrants.

Pennsylvania: Republican Tom Corbett’s lack of a serious primary challenge helps him start the general election campaign against Dan Onorato with a significant money advantage.

Utah: Democrat Peter Corroon is keeping pace with Accidental Governor Gary Herbert in the gubernatorial money race.

Vermont: Democrat Doug Racine received the backing of the Vermont State Employees Association. The VSEA doesn’t usually endorse in primaries but the public sector layoffs and pay cuts imposed during the current economic crisis led the union to make a choice in the crowded Democratic field.

When Terry Branstad rejected defeated GOP guber wannabe Bob Vander Plaats’ request to be included on his ticket this fall it raised the specter the Tea Party fave may pull a Lieberman and run an independent campaign for governor.  Such a move would virtually guarantee the reelection of embattled Democrat Chet Culver, according to some analysts.

It also could scramble the 2012 presidential race before it really begins. Mike Huckabee – who has recently sent signals he may be reconsidering his decision to not run again – would have the most at stake. But others GOP hopefuls, who have lined up behind nominee Terry Branstad could find themselves alienated by the most ardent Tea Party activists if they don’t tread lightly as Vander Plaats considers his next move.

From the Iowa Independent:

News broke Thursday that a meeting had occurred between Vander Plaats and GOP gubernatorial nominee Terry Branstad. At that meeting, Vander Plaats apparently asked for a spot on the ticket, an idea that was rejected. That rejection opened the door for a potential third-party run for governor this fall.

Several sources with knowledge of the situation confirmed to The Iowa Independent this week that Vander Plaats is seriously considering a run, with the chances of him entering the race at about 50/50. Since the rumors became public, Vander Plaats had repeatedly refused comment to the media, but the Cedar Rapids Gazette’s James Lynch reports he did send a text message to one of his advisers stating his immediate priorities as, “to unite the party, defeat Chet Culver and ensure leadership 4 IA.”

Vander Plaats, who ran as the Mike Huckabee/Chuck Norris-backed social conservative in the GOP primary and promised to ban gay marriage on Day 1 in office (even though such a move by the governor would be unconstitutional) surprised some national observers by his ability to make the race against the former governor as close as he did. Apparently, that impressive vote total is what is propelling him to continue his Tea Party-fueled insurgency.

It may look short-sighted today, but to Tea Party activists aiming to control the critical Iowa GOP in the 2012 nominating contest, having Culver in the Governor’s Mansion might strengthen their insurgents effort to keep the issues they care about on the front burner. If Branstad is in office exerting his influence over the nominating caucuses, it becomes more difficult for Tea Party activists to make their mark on the nominating process.

“In many ways, the Vander Plaats folks would prefer a Culver victory over one for Branstad,” Gillette said. “They do not like Culver, but Branstad’s victory in November would limit options for them in years to come – like who gets to be party chair, who controls party resources and who is in charge of the messaging carried and heard by conservatives. The heart of the battle in Iowa is not about winning an office, but for who controls the Republican/conservative/Tea Party cause. Vander Plaats is not ready to go into that good night and Branstad puts a significant dent into the aspirations of many who support Vander Plaats.”

Gillette predicted before the primary that if Vander Plaats got 40 percent of the vote — which he did — that it would motivate him to continue his campaign as an independent. While he may doom the party’s nominee, Gillette says Vander Plaats is really in a no-lose situation.

“If Vander Plaats walks away, he is a three time loser,” he said. “If runs as an independent candidate and Branstad wins, Vander Plaats gets to call himself a martyr for the cause. If he runs and Culver wins, Vander Plaats supporters will say that the wrong guy won in June and will continue to inveigle their way into the party apparatus.”

Democrat Chet Culver has launched a statewide TV ad attacking Terry Branstad over allegations made by former auditor Richard Johnson that former Governor Terry Branstad kept two sets of books while he was in office.

Branstad has denied the claims but it may prove difficult to refute the litany of other charges listed in the ad. For anyone with fond memories about Branstad’s prior reign, the Culver campaign is happy to remind them that Branstad raised the sales and gas taxes and doubled state spending during his time in office.

It concludes Branstad is “a past we can’t repeat.”

Categories : AdMonitor, Iowa
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Iowa Democrats are hoping Terry Branstad is their best ally, the force that unifies their fractious and disengaged base in this year’s gubernatorial contest, according the Iowa Independent.

To unify voters behind Gov. Chet Culver, who has consistently trailed former four-term Republican Gov. Terry Branstad in public polling of the November showdown, Iowa Democrats may let Branstad do the talking.

Reports of dissension within the party and lackluster support for the Culver and Lt. Gov. Patty Judge are “isolated and overblown, but go away when Terry Branstad speaks,” said Norm Sterzenbach, the Iowa Democratic Party’s executive director.

In many other states, incumbent governors saw their polls slipping as the recession deepened and chose against running for reelection.

Chet Culver was one of the few who chose to stay.

Relying on Democrats to rally to Culver based on his opponent would be a strategic blunder. Any incumbent running in difficult fiscal times is going to be vulnerable. If Culver fails to give the Democratic base a reason to support him, he risks being swamped by an energized Republican base (GOP voters showed up in huge numbers during last week’s primary voting).

Categories : Iowa
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