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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Guber Quick Hits – 2/18/13

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CALIFORNIA: California’s public-worker unions were a powerful and integral partner in helping Gov. Jerry Brown persuade voters to pass his tax hikes last November. The Golden State’s finances are now on a much firmer footing. As he prepares to enter contract negotiations with these workers, will he be able to withstand the unions’ desires to receive an increased share of the state’s treasury?

FLORIDA: Following the death of her husband Bill McBride, it doesn’t look like 2010 Democratic guv nominee Alex Sink is interested in a rematch against Rick Scott.

ILLINOIS: With a recent poll showing incumbent Gov. Pat Quinn languishing at 23% support among Democratic primary voters (and trailing AG Lisa Madigan by 9 points), it shouldn’t be a surprise that a bipartisan roster of big name Illini politicos are lining up to replace him. The most devastating development may be the desertion of his running mate, Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon who doesn’t want to be on the ticket with him. Will anyone?

LOUISIANA: Another day, another quote from Bobby (the intern who wants to be president) Jindal on what ails the Republican Party.

NEBRASKA: Sen. Mike Johanns’s retirement announcement after a single term in DC positions term-limited Governor Dave Heineman as the early front-runner, but don’t be surprised if there’s a contentious GOP primary battle.

NORTH CAROLINA: Pat McCrory, the Tar Heel state’s first Republican governor in two decades (and the first to have a GOP-controlled legislature),will deliver his first State of the State speech tonight. Will he deliver a conservative wish-list or will he attempt to moderate the Tea Party-fueled extremism that fueled legislation in the most recent session?

PENNSYLVANIA: The conventional wisdom is that Rep. Allyson Schwartz is all but certain to jump into the race to challenge embattled Republican Gov. Tom Corbett. Fueled by a DGA poll showing the Democrat leading the incumbent by 8 points and sitting on top of pile of campaign cash put her in a strong position to make Corbett a one-term wonder.

TENNESSEE: Last December, Mother Jones named Tennessee’s GOP-dominated state legislature the nation’s worst (and let’s face it, there was a TON of competition). This year, it seems they want to hold onto the dubious title, as Republican legislators have filed a bevy of states’ rights bills in Nashville.

TENNESSEE II: Gov. Bill Haslam’s school voucher bill is getting mixed reviews.

TEXAS: Every time I see one of these stories about Rick Perry’s extremely cozy relationship with the business community I wonder why there isn’t sustained outrage over his lavish lifestyle, especially if it’s financed with taxpayer money.

WISCONSIN: An editorial from The Cap Times points out that when Scott Walker opted out of Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion last week , he claimed his move would help nearly a quarter of a million Wisconsinites find health insurance coverage and cut the state’s uninsured population by nearly 50%. But the biggest (and cruelest) lie of them all is that he claims that under the health insurance exchanges will be available for $19 a month???!!

EJ Dionne: When Republicans were problem-solvers

On the 2016 trail: Bobby Jindal in St. Louis


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.


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.


Guber Quick Hits, Tues 8/31/10

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Arkansas: Wealthy businessman (and GOP guber wannabe) Jim Keet has been dodged over the past week by tax questions. Among other offenses, he admitted to taking a property exemption to which he wasn’t entitled. But perhaps his biggest offense wasn’t the avoidance of taxes, but the way he blamed everyone else – including his wife – for the mistakes.

California: Now that she’s actually registered to vote, MegaBucks Whitman found herself in the Redwood City jury pool and spent Monday afternoon as a potential juror. I wasn’t aware that royalty were required to dirty themselves with such proletarian tasks.

Idaho: Incumbent Gov. Butch Otter is hammering Democratic challenger Keith Allred’s lack of government experience, despite the national anti-insider political climate.

Nebraska: Anne Boyle – a longtime stalwart of Nebraska Democratic politics (a dying breed, perhaps?) – has joined the Democratic gubernatorial ticket as Mike Meister’s Light Guv dance partner and she’s come out swinging at Gov. Dave Heineman as a bully who has threatened to punish people who don’t support his political agenda.

Rhode Island: A cornerstone of Republican Victor Moffitt’s guber bid is a proposal to build a half-billion dollar aquarium in the Ocean State.

South Carolina: Republican Nikki Haley received the endorsement of the Gun Owners of America in her guber race against Vincent Sheheen.

Texas: More evidence that the GOP is using immigration as a mid-term election issue to mobilize the base – after the White House said President Obama wouldn’t be available to meet with Gov. Rick Perry one-on-one to discuss border security issues, the governor declined an offer to meet with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and the White House’s top border security adviser to discuss border security concerns. It’s easier to grandstand and score political points than it is to sit down and work on solutions, I guess.

Utah: In Mormon-dominated Utah, Democratic guber wannabe Peter Corroon’s Light Guv running mate Sheryl Allen – a Republican and a Mormon - is accusing fellow Mormon Gov. Gary Herbert of using religion as a wedge issue in the gubernatorial race against Corroon, a Catholic.


Guber Quick Hits, Wed 7/21/10

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Colorado: As Rocky Mountain Republicans ponder how to clean up the mess that is their gubernatorial contest, independent candidate Jason Clark is trying to become a viable alternative. It’s quite a step up from advertising on Craig’s List for a Light Guv running mate.

Hawai’i: Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hanneman finally resigned as mayor and officially launched his gubernatorial bid against Democratic rival Neil Abercrombie. It’s a rivalry that’s been around for quite a long time – the former Congressman defeated Hannemann in a Democratic primary for his old House seat way back in 1986.

Massachusetts: Did Deval Patrick pull “a Sanford?”

Massachusetts II: Could Tim Cahill resurrect his floundering guber candidacy by winning over social conservatives? In a move that only hurts GOP guber wannabe Charlie Baker, an anti-abortion group, Massachusetts Citizens for Life backed Cahill’s independent bid.

Michigan: Former GOP Rep. Joe Schwarz, who had flirted with an indie guber run this year, has backed the “nerd” in the GOP primary, former Gateway exec Rick Snyder. He also urged Democrats to cross-over and participate in the Republican contest, despite the presence of a race between Andy Dillon and Virg Bernero on the Democratic side.

Nebraska: In the ‘why did they bother? file’  RazzleDazzle Polling reports that GOP incumbent Gov. Dave Heineman has a commanding lead over Democratic sacrificial lamb Mike Meister, who only became a candidate in the heavily Republican state within the last 10 days after the party’s nominee dropped his bid.

Pennsylvania: After hiding in his bunker for eleven days, GOP guber nominee Tom Corbett finally addressed his controversial comments on the long-term unemployed in a public forum.

South Carolina: They’re playing the “I’ll show you mine if you show me yours” tax return game in South Carolina. Democrat Vince Sheheen has released ten years of his returns and has challenged Nikki Haley to do the same.

West Virginia: According to the WaPo’s Fix, the maneuvering to replace Gov. Manchin has begun in earnest. With no Light Gov-in-waiting, the Senate President Earl Ray Tomblin will be replace him if he wins the special US Senate race this November. How long he will serve is unknown, as state law requires a special election but is vague on when it should be held once a vacancy occurs.


Guber Quick Hits, Sun 7/18/10

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California: More than 1,000 nurses gathered outside GOP nominee MegaBucks Whitman’s house to protest “Queen Meg’s” campaign to buy the California Governor’s Mansion.

Georgia: Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed endorsed Democratic guber wannabe Roy Barnes going into the primary campaign’s final weekend.

Kansas: The Kansas National Education Association has endorsed Democratic wannabe Tom Holland’s gubernatorial bid.

Michigan: The Teamsters backed Pete Hoekstra in the GOP primary.

Nebraska: Cornhusker Dems have found their gubernatorial sacrificial lamb.

Ohio: Too unpopular to be of benefit on the campaign trail at home, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger left the state to attend a fundraiser for John Kasich.

Oregon: Democratic guber nominee John Kitzhaber picked up the endorsement of the Oregon Education Association this week.

Oregon II: GOP nominee Chris Dudley was already catching heat for ducking the traditional gubernatorial election’s opening debate at the Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association annual meeting. The temperature might be turned up even more now that it’s clear he wasn’t on a family vacation as he had claimed, but was in Aspen hobnobbing with Uncle Haley Barbour at an RGA retreat.

Rhode Island: The Moderate Party of Rhode Island’s Ken Block reports he’s been certified to appear on the ballot in November as the party’s first gubernatorial candidate.

Vermont: Underdog Matt Dunne’s campaign for Democratic guber nod is trying to tap into the youth vote with this video with young Vermonters talk about wanting to come home.

In the wake of Mark Lakers’ embarrassing yet necessary withdrawal from the Nebraska guber contest, it’s looking increasingly as though the Dems won’t even field a challenger to incumbent Dave Heineman this fall.

With less than four months left in the election cycle, Democrats are weighing the pros and cons of whether or not to field a candidate.

Any candidate would need the equivalent of a political miracle to defeat Republican Gov. Dave Heineman and his $1.5 million war chest at this late hour.

The question then becomes whether it is better to have at least someone’s name on the ballot to give voters a choice or to take the hit now and skip the election.

“If it’s just to have somebody on the ballot, I think it’s a waste of everybody’s time,” said State Sen. Jeremy Nordquist, who echoed what several Democrats have said publicly and privately — then said he would not run.

Coupled with South Dakota Democrats’ failure to field a candidate to challenge US Senator John Thune (which does have repercussions as it frees Thune up to help others with their campaigns), a stark reality is emerging.

The American Prairie is becoming a region of one party GOP dominance.

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Guber Quick Hits, TGIF 7/9/10

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Connecticut: Democrat Dannell Malloy quickly praised a Massachusetts federal judge’s ruling that the Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional. Will this become an issue in the gubernatorial contests throughout New England?

Connecticut II: Republican Michael Fedele should soon be rolling in publicly-financed campaign dough. Due to receive a public grant of nearly $2.2 million, he proclaims he’s ‘ready to rock‘ in the GOP primary against Tom Foley and Oz Griebel. But Foley has filed a lawsuit to prevent the state from transferring the funds.

Florida: In redistricting news, a Leon County judge struck Amendment 7 from Florida’s November ballot. The Republican-backed amendment had been called a “poison pill” that would’ve undermined the intent of Amendments 5 and 6 which seek to reform the way the Sunshine State draws it’s legislative and congressional districts. Incoming State Senate President Mike Haridopolos responded to the decision by saying if 7 was flawed, it must mean Amendments 5 & 6 are as well and should be removed from the ballot.

Hawaii: Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann picked up the endorsement of one of Hawaii’s largest unions, the United Public Workers.

Massachusetts: Republican Charlie Baker’s gubernatorial campaign now has more money in the bank than either of his major rivals, Deval Patrick and Timothy Cahill, after Cahill spent more than $400K on campaign ads early this summer.

Minnesota: Tom Emmer’s campaign continues getting bashed over his ill-conceived proposal to cut waiters hourly wages.

Nebraska: Democrats are still searching for a gubernatorial candidate.

Texas: All the threads of evidence in the mystery about who provided the funding to get the Green Party certified on the Lone Star ballot point to Rick Perry’s camp. It turns out this might not be the first time Perry has employed this tactic.

In a not totally unexpected development, embattled Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mark Lakers ended his candidacy Friday, citing his inability to run a competitive campaign.

Mounting a viable campaign against incumbent Republican Dave Heineman was always going to be a tall order for any Democrat this year. But Lakers made things worse for himself. When the political newcomer filed his first set of financial reports, he got quite a bit of attention for his eye-popping totals.

When it became obvious that the too-good-to-be-true numbers were indeed fake, his nascent candidacy began its inevitable unraveling. The Attorney General launched an investigation into the questionable filings and leading Democrats called for Lakers to quit the race.

The departure leaves the Nebraska Democrats scrambling to find a replacement candidate prior to their state convention at the end of July. Cornhusker Dems  are in a world of hurt this year. In addition to a blank spot at the top of the ticket, they have yet to field a candidate for two other statewide offices up for election, Attorney General and State Auditor.

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Guber Quick Hits, Tues, 6/22/10

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California: Assembly Democrats have proposed borrowing billions to help ease the state’s $19.1 billion budget shortfall but Attorney General (and Dem guber nominee) Jerry Brown’s office last week advised it may not pass legal muster if it’s challenged in court. Now comes word that Treasurer Bill Lockyer won’t be able to sell such bonds on Wall Street without the AG’s blessing.

Florida: The GOP establishment continues to circle the wagons in defense of Bill McCollum as he faces an all-out assault from outsider Rick Scott. Dick Armey is the latest insider to endorse the former congressman.

Georgia: With polls showing former Gov. Roy Barnes pulling away from the Democratic gubernatorial field, the AJC’s Political Insider asks “Can Roy Barnes win without a Democratic runoff?

Kansas: Sen. Sam Brownback’s proposal to create an “Office of the Repealer” has drawn national media attention and found a receptive response among the Kansas electorate. But local media is wondering why he doesn’t provide specific recommendations about what he proposes to repeal.

Maryland: Eight years ago, Republican Bob Ehrlich lifted Michael Steele out of obscurity by naming him his Light Guv running mate. This time there are few clues as to who Ehrlich might choose as his dance partner.

Nebraska: Frustration over the divisive immigration issue has resulted in the voters of Fremont, NE passing an ordinance banning the harboring, hiring of and renting to illegal immigrants. City leaders warn of challenges in implementing the new ordinance and the possibility of higher taxes to pay for it’s enforcement.

Oregon: The Independent Party of Oregon has an astounding 77 candidates seeking its gubernatorial nomination, including Democratic nominee John Kitzhaber.

Pennsylvania: Democrat Dan Onorato wants to debate GOP nominee Tom Corbett fourteen times – twice in each of the Keystone State’s seven media markets.