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 Obama’s Political Capital


Guber Quick Hits, Sat 8/21/10

Posted by: | Comments (0)

California: At what point does a candidate become overexposed? The Jerry Brown camp has polling numbers saying MegaBucks Whitman’s saturation of the Golden State’s TeeVees has started a backlash among voters.

Florida: Even if Bill McCollum survives this Tuesday’s guber primary slugfest, the RPOF will turn to the general election campaign in a financially distressed state. Their federal campaign finance account which typically funds GOTV efforts, has been drained as the party establishment has poured everything into salvaging McCollum’s candidacy.

Illinois: Accidental Gov. Pat Quinn’s campaign continues to unravel. It’s now parted ways with David Axelrod’s media firm.

Maryland: Trying to have it both ways. Former Gov. Bob Ehrlich has taken to touring the state criticizing over-regulation and government’s role in hindering economic growth but when a questioner points out some of the system he’s complaining about were signed into law by Ehrlich himself, he avoids the query and attacks the questioner.

Massachusetts: Sensing danger in the media’s recent midterm tea leaf reading, the White House is denying that Gov. Deval Patrick’s re-election effort is any sort of bellwhether for Obama’s 2012 campaign.

Oregon: The debate about debates between John Kitzhaber and Chris Dudley continues. The Democrat wants a series of seven encounters while the former NBA Trail Blazer has accepted four – although the four he wants aren’t necessarily the Kitz wants. Round and round it goes as Oregon’s budget hole grows larger.

Pennsylvania: During the Democratic primary Philadelphia-area state senator Anthony Williams set Keystone State fundraising and spending records when a trio of school voucher proponents donated millions to his campaign. When Williams officially endorsed Democratic nominee Dan Onorato, many wondered whether those donors would open their checkbooks once again. It appears they haven’t.

Vermont: Brian Dubie makes it easier for his eventual Democratic opponent to run against the Dubya legacy.


Guber Quick Hits, Sun 8/1/10

Posted by: | Comments (0)

Florida: Bill McCollum’s quest to prove his social conservative bona fides continues – he’s received the backing of former presidential candidate and family values stalwart Gary Bauer.

Hawai’i: The state’s largest private sector construction union, the 7,000 member Carpenters Union endorsed Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann’s guber bid in the Democratic Primary. His opponent, former US Rep. Neil Abercrombie, received the backing of the Hawaii Venture Capital Association.

Minnesota: Margaret Anderson Kelliher received the endorsement of the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Pennsylvania: Democrat Dan Onorato reports raising more than $3.3 million since he won the May primary.

Vermont: The Professional Firefighters of Vermont endorsed Republican Brian Dubie.

Wisconsin: President Obama is going to be spending a lot of the dog days of August on the campaign and fundraising circuit. He’ll be in Florida, Georgia, and Ohio. He’ll also be in Milwaukee August 16th to host an economic event and headline a fundraiser for Democratic guber wannabe Tom Barrett.


Deval Enters the Lion’s Den

Posted by: | Comments (0)

Embattled Massachusetts Governor (what incumbent running for re-election isn’t endangered this year of the angry electorate?) Deval Patrick walked into the Right Wing echo chamber by appearing on conservative talk radio host Howie Carr’s Boston’s WRKO radio show.

Patrick, who is heard regularly on the Bay State’s radio airwaves with liberal hosts  Jim Braude and Margery Eagan and is facing a close three-way contest in November answered questions on removing toll booths on the Mass Pike and property tax relief, two pet concerns of frequent critic Carr.

Carr also opened with a frequent question he asks on the air and in his column in the Boston Herald: “Where’s my property tax cut?”

Patrick replied, “It’s coming.”

The governor noted he has tried many means to let cities and towns reduce their property tax burdens, including proposing to allow them to put their workers into the state insurance pool, letting them raise their meals and hotel taxes and proposing to give them a portion of the revenues from three casinos he proposed.

“The other tools we got; this one we didn’t,” he said, referring to the Legislature’s rejection of his casino plan.

Patrick, who’s got David Plouffe advising his re-elect effort probably won’t be alone in taking on critics as the campaign unfolds. Politico reports Patrick’s reelection is a top political priority for Team Obama.

the White House is looking to every weapon in its arsenal to help Patrick win a second term.

Patrick has been at the White House at least a half-dozen times in the past year, whether he’s lunching with senior adviser David Axelrod, dropping by the Oval Office for a chat or attending Obama’s first state dinner.

The Massachusetts governor is the only Democrat besides Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and party-switching Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) to get the president to headline a personal fundraiser for him more than a year before the November election. Obama’s former campaign manager, David Plouffe, has been consulting for Patrick’s 2010 bid since last spring, and Axelrod also has lent his expertise.

“We want to be as helpful as we can to him,” said Axelrod, who worked on the Massachusetts governor’s 2006 campaign.

Losing the governorship in the state on the vanguard of health care reform and the scene of this year’s most shocking political upset – the election of Scott Brown to Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat – could be a narrative-defining result heading into 2011.

The White House – with an eye on 2012 – will do anything to prevent another Bay State bombshell.


RE: Presidential Requests

Posted by: | Comments (0)

What happens when you dismiss a confidential presidential request to step aside? 

It becomes “not-so-confidential.” 

The White House, apparently concerned over NY Governor David Paterson’s dismal poll numbers, sent a “confidential” message to Albany requesting Paterson opt out of a 2010 re-election campaign. The request seems to have been summarily dismissed.

The move against a sitting Democratic governor represents an extraordinary intervention into a state political race by the president, and is a delicate one, given that Mr. Paterson is one of only two African-American governors in the nation.

But Mr. Obama’s political team and other party leaders have grown increasingly worried that the governor’s unpopularity could drag down Democratic members of Congress in New York, as well as the Democratic-controlled Legislature, in next fall’s election.

A few weeks ago, Paterson accused a “racist” media of causing his political headaches, which didn’t go over well at the post racial White House. Read More→


Paterson Plays a Divisive Card

Posted by: | Comments (0)

In an interview that must  have White House political strategists cringing, NY Governor David Paterson morphed into a Gotham version of Sarah Palin by claiming a racist media is the reason Democratic operatives are pressuring him to not run for re-election in 2010. Paterson also claimed the media was behind the declining poll numbers of the nation’s other African-American Governor, Massachusetts’ Deval Patrick.

“We’re not in the post-racial period,” Paterson said.

“The reality is the next victim on the list – and you can see it coming – is President Barack Obama, who did nothing more than trying to reform a health care system.”

Paterson said the campaign against him is being “orchestrated” by reporters who would rather make the news than report it.

Anyone following NY politics over the past year would attribute the governor’s falling poll numbers (which were once sky-high) to a combination of a faltering economy, a paralyzed state government and the governor’s own missteps. By failing to accept blame for his own predicament and playing the race card, he divides the Democratic base (which may help him gain a victory in a primary), further undermines his general election chances and irresponsibly damages President Obama’s agenda.

Way to go, Governor.

It’s the dog days of summer – and most average Virginians aren’t paying all that much attention to the nationally significant (to the political chattering class, at least) gubernatorial race underway in the Old Dominion. According to the newest Washington Post/ABC News poll of the race show a majority (51%) are not closely following the race. Less than one in five (17%) claim to be following the contest very closely. Full survey is here.

This lack of interest also reveals itself in the fact that a majority (52%) said they either remained undecided in the race or could change their mind before going to the polls seventy-nwapo-va-chartine days from now.

Essentially, the 47-40 topline lead for McDonnell reflects the Republican’s ability to win over independent voters, remain competitive among moderates and minimize the Democrat’s advantage in the Northern Virginia suburbs. Deeds, who has been criticized by Democratic strategists for his focus on regions outside NoVa, trails the Republican in the downstate, rural regions.

But a closer look reveals something more fundamental might be underway, threatening to alter our understanding of the nation’s political landscape in the Obama era.

Regarding the methodology of the poll, this sample has a 7-pt GOP advantage (34-27) among likely voters, a reversal from a poll conducted last August (36-28 Dem advantage) and a contrast from one conducted in September 05 during the Kaine/Gilgore gubernatorial contest when Republicans had a 3 point advantage (37-34). While the 2008 numbers were certainly an aberration induced by a surging Obama campaign, a double-digit swing towards the Republicans seems questionable, especially considering the fact the two parties each usually represent a third of the respondents in this survey over the past decade. Along those same lines, the percentage of self-identified conservatives in the sample surged 12 points over the past year (from 29 last September to 41 now) while the percentage of moderates dropped correspondingly (dropping from 47 to 37).  While some pollsters have been reporting a growing GOP enthusiasm advantage in recent months, it would be a political earthquake if these shifts actually materialize on Election Day.

But if these party ID numbers are accurate, it also means the Obama coalition will be dismissed by conservatives and moderate Democrats as a personality-driven victory that had little to do with support for Democratic policies. A resounding Deeds defeat would be a serious blow (much worse than a Corzine defeat in New Jersey) that would undermine Obama’s ability to implement a progressive agenda.


Race for Richmond – Scary Business

Posted by: | Comments (0)

While watching the first gubernatorial debate between Creigh Deeds and Bob McDonnell, I was struck by how both candidates attempted to insert national themes into the discussion. While Deeds the Democrat highlighted McDonnell’s embrace of Bush economic policies, it was the Republican who echoed national GOPer talking points the most frequently.

Today’s WaPo agrees:

Republican Robert F. McDonnell made a bet at his first debate in the Virginia governor’s race Saturday: that turning the contest into a referendum on President Obama’s increasingly contentious national agenda will sway the election. Read More→

Could Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick pay a political price because President Obama made an uncharacteristic political misstep this week?  

The president inserting himself into a local issue by inartfully answering Lynn Sweet’s closing question during Wednesday night’s presidential news conference was certainly ill-advised. Calling the actions of the Cambridge, MA police department “stupid” in arresting renowned African American Harvard University Professor Henry Gates was, in itself, a stupid thing to do.

Beyond the fact the media maelstrom has eclipsed the serious and important discussion about healthcare reform (the purpose of the presser in the first place), the wisdom of a president wading into a situation where he has an admitted personal bias and  a lack of knowledge about the relevant facts is seriously lacking. It highjacked the healthcare narrative and elevated a local issue that was in the process of being resolved by the local authorities into a national story dominating numerous news cycles.

The president’s goal Wednesday night was to create unity about the need to reform our national healthcare system. Instead, he brought the conversation to race, which remains one of the most divisive topics in American politics. There’s no question our society needs to continue talking about the state of America’s race relations, but make no mistake about it – the president failed this week. He went lost the message on his top policy priority, placed himself into the middle of a contentious discussion no one is going to “win,” and put one of his earliest allies in a precarious political position. Read More→