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 Oklahoma


Guber Quick Hits, Thurs 8/26/10

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Hawaii: Former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann picked up the backing of two of his former colleagues as the mayors of Kauai and the Big Island endorsed his guber primary bid. His opponent, former US Rep. Neil Abercrombie also picked up the support of a former colleague, as former Rep. Ed Case endorsed him.

Illinois: Tea Party in Obama’s home town? Republican Bill Brady’s campaign manager is helping fund Tea Party groups across Illinois.

Michigan: GOP guber nominee Rick Snyder – a former board member of The Nature Conservancy – has come under fire from some environmental groups over his selection of Brian Calley as his Light Guv dance partner.

New Hampshire: Gov. John Lynch has amassed an impressive $1.3 million campaign fundraising haul, although more than a third ($500K) has come from a personal loan made to his own campaign. Republican John Stephen has raised just under $1 million. Both have over $700K in the bank for the final two months of the campaign, although Stephen does have a competitive primary to win first on September 14th.

Oklahoma: Guber wannabes Mary Fallin and Jari Askins have agreed to two October debates.

Rhode Island: Former GOP Senator Lincoln Chafee – now running for governor as an independent – picked up the support of the Rhode Island chapter of the National Educators Association. The endorsement follows the lead of the state’s other major teachers union, the Rhode Island Federation of Teachers and Health Professionals – which backed Chafee in July.

South Carolina: More than thirty Palmetto State mayors endorsed Democrat Vincent Sheheen’s gubernatorial campaign, saying he would better listen to the needs of local leaders than would his opponent, Nikki Haley.


Guber Quick Hits, Thurs 8/19/10

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Arkansas: Republican guber wannabe Jim Keet raised a paltry $33K in July while incumbent Democratic Gov Mike Beebe raised $333K.

Colorado: Despite pressure from the GOP establishment to quit the guber contest, Dan “Middle Manager” Maes is staying put. He’s picked his Light Guv dance partner, former state legislator Tambor Williams.

New Mexico: Earlier this year, Diane Denish attacked GOP rival Susana Martinez  for plea bargaining with sex offenders. Now that a Democratic DA appears to have made a similar deal, Denish refuses to comment.

Oklahoma: Mary Fallin has a substantial fundraising lead over her Democratic rival Jari Askins. Nearly a third of the money Askins has raised has come from her own pocket.


Guber Quick Hits, Wed 7/28/10

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California: Less than a month after ending furloughs for state workers, the Governator is bringing them back saying they’re here to stay until there’s a budget deal, which is now 28 days late.

Kentucky: Bluegrass State voters won’t be voting for governor until 2011, but Republicans are jockeying for position to take on Democrat Steve Beshear despite his impressive $2 million campaign warchest.

Maine: A minor skirmish has broken out over comments Republican Paul LePage made that were interpreted as a slam on Democratic nominee Libby Mitchell’s age.

Oklahoma: Could a last-minute endorsement by legendary football coach Barry Switzer have powered Lt. Gov. Jari Askins’ surprising victory over front-runner Drew Edmondson in the Democratic primary?

South Carolina: Democrat Vincent Sheheen is beefing up his campaign team as he ramps up his effort to defeat the Palmetto Mama Grizzly, Nikki Haley.

Tennessee: As one of his opponents walks back talk of secession and another tries to explain what he meant when he called Islam a “cult,” Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam announces a long slate of elected officials from across Tennessee who are supporting his gubernatorial run. He’s the best-financed and leading in all the polls – will sanity prevail on election day?

As expected, Rep. Mary Fallin defeated Tea Party favorite Randy Brogdon in the Oklahoma Republican primary by a 55%-39% margin.

Lt. Gov. Jari Askins’ tight victory over AG Drew Edmondson in the Democratic Primary was the surprise of the day, setting up the second all-female gubernatorial major party matchup of the 2010 cycle (the other being in New Mexico). According to UVA’s Larry Sabato, these are only the third and fourth such matchups in US history.

The other noteworthy aspect came during Fallin’s election night victory speech at the Will Rogers Theater where her comments attacking the Obama Administration and federal government got the loudest, most robust cheers.

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Guber Quick Hits, Wed 7/7/10

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Colorado: The Denver Post editorializes against a trio of ballot questions that, if passed, could cripple Colorado’s state government.

Georgia: Wealthy businessman Ray Boyd, who attempted to run for the GOP guber nod (but was purged for refusing to take loyalty pledge) and then threw in the towel when he realized just how time consuming and expensive gathering all those signatures required of a third party candidate, has gotten most of his money back.

Maryland: Long-shot GOP candidate Brian Murphy (yes, Bob Ehrlich does have a primary to get through before he gets his shot at revenge) has selected his second Light Guv dance partner of the campaign. His first choice, clearly not a fan of lost causes, abandoned the ticket when Ehrlich made it clear he was running.

Minnesota: In the game of “I’ll show you mine if you’ll show me yours” DFL-endorsed guber hopeful Margaret Anderson Kelliher followed front-runner Mark Dayton in releasing her tax returns for public review. Will that force fellow DFLer Matt Entenza or Republican Tom Emmer to release theirs as well?

New York: Buffalo businessman Carl Paladino hasn’t given up in his gubernatorial quest. He’s still petitioning to appear on the GOP primary ballot but he’s also planning on appearing on the yet-to-be-formed Taxpayer party line in November.

Oklahoma: Jan Brewer continues her effort to dislodge Sarah as the GOP’s Queen Bee. She’s endorsing Okie Mama Grizzly Mary Fallin’s guber run, also, you betcha!

Tennessee: Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam – who probably could have financed his own gubernatorial run with his own bank account – has raised an intimidating $8.7 million from 12,000 individual donors for his campaign.

Utah: The debates about the debates is underway in the Beehive State. Gov. Gary Herbert proposed a series of eight forums, while Democrat Peter Corroon wants 22.


Guber Quick Hits, Tues 7/6/10

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Colorado: Denver Mayor (and Dem guber wannabe) John Hickenlooper had reserved $800K in television time for campaign advertising this fall announced today that he’s upped the ante, throwing in another $350K.

Georgia: What do you do if a judge decries you as an “abomination” as a lawyer? If you’re John Oxendine, you launch a career in politics.

Maryland: Former governor Bob Ehrlich made it official he wants his old job back.

Michigan: Opponents of the federal health care law failed to garner enough signatures to get an opt-out constitutional amendment on the November ballot.

Minnesota: Matt Entenza’s St. Paul campaign office has been burglarized for a second time.

Oklahoma: Other Sooner gubernatorial candidates are wondering, “Where’s Mary?” Rep. Mary Fallin, the presumed front-runner to succeed term-limited Gov. Brad Henry has been MIA from a series of major debates sponsored by The Oklahoma Academy.

South Carolina: Nikki Haley graces the cover of Newsweek and proclaims her “The New Face of the New South.”  Wonder if  Sarah’s jealous yet?

Tennessee: The Tea Party GOP Tango continues in Tennessee. Ron Ramsey, who started the “My List is Bigger Than Yours Contest” a week ago has responded to Bill Haslam’s return volley with a bigger, stronger, more improved list of Twenty Tea Party organizations who’ve endorsed Ramsey’s bid.

Wisconsin: NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg endorsed Tom Barrett’s gubernatorial bid.


Guber Quick Hits, TGIF, 6/25/10

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Idaho: The idea of an independent state militia didn’t go over all that well when Oklahoma legislators contemplate it recently. But that’s not stopping delegates to the Idaho GOP state convo from possibly including a state militia plank in their party platform.

Illinois: Pat Quinn is losing his chief spokesman, who is taking a leave of absence to pursue political office in his own right.

Maine: State ethics officials are launching an investigation into who was behind a mysterious automated call the eve of the GOP guber primary that criticized Waterville Mayor Paul LePage on his stance regarding civil unions.

Massachusetts: Citing a scheduling conflict, Republican Charlie Baker won’t appear at a candidates’ forum focused on environmental issues. When offered a chance to name a new date, the campaign declined. Sounds more like ducking a potentially hostile crowd more than a scheduling problem.

New Hampshire: Republican John Stephen reported raising an impressive $664,795 between March and June. While that may seem like chump change to someone running in California or Florida, it’s serious money in the Granite State.

Oklahoma: Mary Fallin was recently named one of Palin’s “mama grizzlies.” Now she’s got another 2012 presidential contender, Tim Pawlenty, on the campaign trail with her.

Texas: Bill White got the backing  of Bill Clinton yesterday. Will the former president make a difference? Only if he gets out and stumps for White.


Guber Quick Hits, TGIF 6/18/10

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Arkansas: Republican guber wannabe Jim Keet is trying to make his campaign against incumbent Mike Beebe a referendum on President Obama. In a radio ad, he calls the governor Obama’s “silent partner” who has refused to oppose the president even when his policies hurt the Arkansas economy.

Maryland: Bob Ehrlich will soon leave his controversial Saturday morning call-in radio gig, but he’s found an able (and supportive) replacement – his wife Kendall.

Maryland II: Republicans preach the mantra of “local control” until they don’t like the decisions made locally. Bob Ehrlich wants to create a system where local school boards could be overruled if they reject charter school applications.

Nevada: Democratic guber wannabe Rory Reid thinks the state’s education system can be adequately funded without raising taxes. The leaders of the state’s teachers unions disagree.

New York: Carl Paladino is using a web poll to determine the name of his third party effort he wants to add to New York’s ballot. It’s a brilliant way to build his list – and identify people who may be willing to provide the signatures necessary to get his party on the ballot.

Oklahoma: Mary Fallin has been added to Sarah Palin’s list of “mama grizzlies.

Tennessee: Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam has raised $8 million for his guber bid, far out-pacing all other contenders.

Wisconsin: A coalition of Badger State Tea Party groups will not endorse either Republican guber candidate until after their Tea Party debate, scheduled for August 29th. Both Mark Neumann and Scott Walker plan to show up and beg for the nod.


Quick Hits,Thursday 5/13/10

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Keeping it clean: Two upper Midwest states with a reputation for clean and fair elections, Minnesota and Wisconsin, are going to compare their voter participation files from the 2008 election to make sure no one illegally voted in both states.

Alabama: Frank Luntz hearts Tim James’ English-only ad (actually, his focus group loves it). “Of all the ads we’ve tested,” says Luntz, “I don’t think we’ve had any that have been so controversial, and done so well as this one.”

California: Steve Poizner, who polls show closing what was once an enormous gap with Meg Whitman, made a $2.5 million deposit in his own campaign. That brings his total to $22.5 million. MegaBucks must be wondering, “Is that all you got?” considering she’s put nearly $60 million of her billions into buying the GOP nomination. If Poizner is able to close the deal an upset her on June 8th, she’ll be asking a whole other set of questions.

Connecticut: This is why gambling (or gaming in the industry’s parlance) is becoming a budget fix for many states. Imagine how dire Connecticut’s budget woes would be without the hundreds of millions coming in from slots.

Nevada: “A whopping 85 percent of likely Republican primary voters would support an Arizona-like law in Nevada to crack down on illegal immigrants, according to a new poll that shows why GOP candidates in the U.S. Senate and gubernatorial races have rushed to praise the border state,” reports the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

New York: A federal judge has halted David Paterson’s cost-saving plan to furlough 100,000 state employees. There’s still a $9.2 billion hole in the Empire State’s budget.

Oklahoma: Republican hypocrisy at it’s finest.

Oregon: In the only state that conducts elections 100% by mail, GOP guber wannabe Allen Alley is making an “innovative” ad buy – in a very old school medium – the state’s newspapers. A quarter of a million copies of an 8-page insert (pdf) distributed inside 27 small dailies and weeklies around the state.  It’s actually a pretty informative campaign piece. In a state where you have to sit down with a voter guide and take time to fill out your ballot at home, having something like this (pdf) to review may make a difference.

Pennsylvania: State Republicans are determined to regain the House majority this fall, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports. The Keystone State was one of the fiercest redistricting battlegrounds last decade and Republicans hope they’ll head into redistricting (in which PA will lose yet another seat) with the both the Governor’s Mansion and legislative majority on their side.

Tennessee: The House Speaker is accusing the Senate Leader of playing politics with budget negotiations. If Ron Ramsey wasn’t running for governor, the speaker contends, a deal to plug the state’s budget deficit would have been reached by now. Trading partisan charges over spending and taxes during tough economic times is commonplace these days. What isn’t is when the two lawmakers are both Republicans.

There are currently ten 2009-2010 gubernatorial races where the incumbent party is likely to lose the Governor’s Mansion. The top six likely to flip chairs were reviewed here. Numbers 6 through 10 appear below the fold. The top five Pick-Up Opportunities are all open seat contests. Only two incumbents (Nevada’s Jim Gibbons and New Jersey’s Jon Corzine) appear in our top ten list (at #7 and #9). 

Both 2009 races appear here, as Democrats continue trailing in both New Jersey and Virginia as Election Day quickly approaches. The Democratic Party has brighter prospects in the two western states of California and Nevada, while they are likely to struggle defending the open Governor’s Chair in Oklahoma, a state shifting toward the GOP at all levels of government. The contests in this group are all listed as “LEAN TAKEOVER,” meaning that while the challenging party is favored, there are scenarios in which the incumbent party can defend the governorship. For instance, if Nevada’s Gibbons retires or loses in a primary (both very likely scenarios), winning the Carson City Governor’s Mansion becomes a more difficult proposition for the Democrats. 

Analysis on gubernatorial races 6-10 can be found below the fold Read More→