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 RGA


Guber Quick Hits, TGIF 9/10/10

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Arizona: One of the conditions for qualifying for Clean Elections campaign financing under Arizona law is participating in a Clean Elections-sponsored debate. After showing up (at least in body) and receiving her $1.7 million-plus check, Gov. Jan Brewer has decided she can’t risk this again. Turns out there are a lot of other GOP candidates following Brewer’s lead.

California: As the Golden State’s annual budget delay dance stretches toward record-setting territory, the state Controller has announced the state won’t have to start issuing IOUs until early October, which is later than previous estimates. Not sure if this is good news or bad news, as some observers believe IOUs would’ve stepped up the pressure on the legislature to finally get a deal done.

Colorado: The sinking ship that is GOP guber nominee Dan Maes’ campaign lost another deckhand this week when the volunteer campaign treasurer- who had been on board for just three weeks – resigned. The official reason Bob Balink jumped ship was because the commute was too long.

Connecticut: Mitt Romney joined fellow millionaire Tom Foley on the campaign trail in tony Greenwich.

Hawaii: The largest public worker union in the state is trying to explain the controversial decision to back Mufi Hannemann over Neil Abercrombie in the Democratic guber primary.

Massachusetts: A ‘furious exchange’ over the state’s role in rescuing health insurance company Pilgrim Health exploded during this week’s gubernatorial debate. Gov. Deval Patrick asserted that Baker – who ran Pilgrim at the time – was rescued thanks to state aid. Baker denied the governor’s version of history. Turns out it depends on what you mean by state aid. According to a local taxpayer watchdog group, no taxpayer money was used in reversing the fortunes of the health insurer, but the state did play a central role in helping make sure the company didn’t fail.

Pennsylvania: The Republican Governor’s Association moved $1.5 million from its Wisconsin PAC to its Pennsylvania PAC in July. It’s an intriguing move, considering both seats are widely viewed as strong pick-up opportunities for the GOP.

Rhode Island: Could news that Democratic guber wannabe Frank Caprio contemplated switching parties last winter as he prepared for his campaign push Democratic voters into independent Linc Chafee’s camp come this November?

Texas: Despite numerous denials he’s got his eyes on the White House, Gov. Rick Perry’s new book Fed Up!: Our Fight to Save America from Washington will be published right after the midterm elections (and Perry hopes his own record-setting reelection).

Vermont: The Democratic Party has filed a campaign finance complaint against Brian Dubie and the RGA, claiming they illegally coordinated to create a television ad supporting Dubie’s gubernatorial campaign.

Politico is reporting on Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour’s candid comments about how RNC Chairman Michael Steele’s financial failings have put the pressure on the RGA to step in and fund GOTV, direct mail and robocalling functions traditionally paid for by the RNC.

At a press breakfast in DC this morning he put a $10 million price tag on Steele’s mismanagement.

“It appears the RNC won’t be able to put as much money into state party get-out-the-vote operations as they have in the past,” said the Mississippi governor, trying to put a delicate spin on what is perhaps the most glaring Republican challenge heading into the midterm elections.  “Yes, we have taken that into consideration to try to be sure that we have a good ground in game in the states where we think it matters, which is everywhere.”

Thank goodness (from Haley’s perspective) that he’s got Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes willing to pony up unprecedented sums. As he ponders making a 2012 presidential run, it doesn’t hurt Haley to be a gubernatorial kingmaker during these critical elections. The chits he’s collecting now may come in very handy in the very near future.

Categories : 2012 Sweepstakes, RGA
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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.

Haley and Roger’s boys at the RGA have a new attack ad against Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett that puts a new spin on the classic Miller Lite ads.

Instead of trading chants of “Great Taste!” and “Less Filling!” the denizens of this blue collar pub shout “More Taxes!” and “Less Jobs!” when the bartender yells out “Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett!”

All Time Worst from Republican Governors Association on Vimeo.

Categories : AdMonitor, RGA, Wisconsin
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Here’s the Aloha State edition of the RGA’s prolific national ad strategy underwritten by Roger Ailes and Rupert Murdoch’s million dollar donation to the RGA.

It highlights Lt. Gov Duke Aiona’s education plan, which apparently consists of auditing the state’s Department of Education, which Haley’s gang tells us amounts to innovative new ideas.

Spending funding more efficiently with better results sounds good, but where are the ideas?

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The national media and the cable chattering classes obsess over whether the US House will be led by a Speaker Boehner and whether a Republican wave can wash away the Democrats’ Senate majority in the November midterms. The Beltway-centric focus of the punditocracy’s groupthink overlooks the critical and undeniable importance of the races that will actually make a difference in the lives of average Americans for the next decade – the gubernatorial contests.

In today’s WaPo Dan Balz makes the point that with 24 open seat contests (many governors are bumping up against term limits) and only a handful of incumbents not facing serious challengers the partisan makeup of the nation’s gubernatorial map is likely to look much different than it does today.

~ Washington Post graphic (note: Minnesota is incorrectly colored blue, the incumbent Tim Pawlenty is a Republican)

The stakes for both parties couldn’t be higher, Balz writes:

Nick Ayers, the executive director of the Republican Governors Association, offers this preview of what’s at stake in the 37 gubernatorial races in November. Between now and Election Day, the association and its Democratic counterpart will be engaged in “a $100 million-plus chess match for control of the foundation of American politics for the next 10 years.”

If that sounds like hyperbole, it isn’t. The Washington political community is understandably obsessed with the battle for control of Congress that will play out between now and November and the implications for how President Obama may govern in the second half of his first term. But no one at this weekend’s summer meeting of the National Governors Association underestimates the potentially greater significance of the outcomes in the states this fall.

Everything from implications for redistricting to 2012 presidential politics to contrasting styles of Republican and Democratic governance that will be put before the American people will be affected by what happens in the races for governor. As Nathan Daschle, the executive director of the Democratic Governors Association, put it, “It’s the most important gubernatorial election in a generation.”

Daschle noted that many of the House seats that switch parties this November could shift back in two years. “Gubernatorial politics, particularly in a year like this, are long-term structural changes,” he said.

Democratic gubernatorial candidates in many regions are buffeted by the same winds facing House and Senate Democrats and most prognosticators predict Republicans to pick up many Governor’s Mansions across the country.  The University of Minnesota recently raised the possibility the GOP could reach it’s highest gubernatorial total since the days of Warren Harding.

Democrats appear in trouble from coast-to-coast, but the party’s problems are particularly acute in the traditional presidential battlegrounds of the Midwest. Losing control across the swath of states stretching from Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin through Michigan, Ohio and into Pennsylvania is a very real possibility. Congressional redistricting in these states with shrinking delegations will help shape the congressional majority for the coming decade.

While Republicans have turned to wealthy self-financers (Meg Whitman in California), embraced a crop of diverse female nominees (Nikki Haley in SC and Susana Martinez in NM), they’ve also seen fractious primaries, especially in Iowa. The Florida and Georgia primaries could derail GOP hopes of holding onto those burgeoning Southern states where the 2010 Census count will result in new congressional seats.

Beyond redistricting, the loss of governor’s mansions could undermine the Obama Administration in two ways. As Balz points out, it could make the 2012 electoral map much more challenging for the president as he seeks re-election. Republican governors (think Florida 2000 and Ohio 2004) were critical in helping George W. Bush’s presidential aspirations.

Additionally, there’s the specter of Republicans in state capitals across the country hindering the implementation of Obama’s Democratic agenda. As GOP governors and attorneys general have already shown regarding healthcare (and now immigration in Arizona), they can erect structural and legal obstacles to federal policies they oppose. Emboldened Republican governors (think Bob McDonnell and Chris Christie as prototypes), will be jockeying for a national spotlight to become the spokesperson – or leader – of the Republican opposition.

Immigrants rights groups will be protesting Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer at the National Governor’s Association’s Summer Summit in Boston this weekend while the local police officers association will bark at the host, Gov. Deval Patrick.

But perhaps the rudest guest at the gathering is Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour’s well-financed RGA, which released the following TV ad targeting Patrick as a tax and spend liberal governor.

RGA Ad – Deval Patrick: “Taxes” from Republican Governors Association on Vimeo.

Categories : AdMonitor, Massachusetts, RGA
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Flush with cash, the Republican Governor’s Association is proving it knows what do with it’s money. They’re already up with an ad skewering Rory Reid by ridiculing the campaign’s noteworthy decision to include the “Just Rory’s” last name in his latest television spot.

The creative insertion of sound clips of the candidate himself emanating from a closed dressing room door (complete with his own “Rory” star) make Reid sound petulant and self-absorbed.

Rory Reid’s Name Used in an Ad? from Republican Governors Association on Vimeo.

Categories : AdMonitor, Nevada, RGA
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IL: AdMonitor – The DGA vs. The RGA

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The national gubernatorial organizations have joined the battle in the campaign between Democrat Pat Quinn and Republican Bill Brady with dueling ads.

With the Rod Blagojevich corruption trial dominating Illinois politics, the RGA has an obvious line of attack. Blagojevich’s presence in the daily headlines is a headache for Quinn. The more Illinois voters are reminded of the corruption that permeates their politics, the more it hurts incumbents.

They’ve launched two ads linking Quinn to his impeached predecessor. The second ad proclaims, “As governors, Quinn and Blagojevich have failed us.”

The Day After Tomorrow from Republican Governors Association on Vimeo.

For their part, the DGA has produced an Internet ad asking, “Where’s Bill Brady?” attacking Brady for  missing a majority of legislative votes thus far this year. Somehow, I think the RGA’s got the more powerful message at this point.

Categories : AdMonitor, DGA, Illinois, RGA
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A new poll from Suffolk University reinforces the numbers Rasmussen released a couple of weeks ago. What has once been a toss-up contest between Gov. Deval Patrick (D), Charlie Baker (R) and Timothy Cahill (Ind) has shifted toward the incumbent.

Suffolk state of the race numbers (including Green Party candidate Jill Stein)/MoE +/- 4.4%

Mass Gubernatorial Matchup






Patrick (D)





Baker (R)





Cahill (I)





Stein (G)










As with the earlier poll, Patrick’s growth seems to be coming at Cahill’s expense.

The RGA has had a sustained, multi-media attack against Cahill for nearly a month. It’s clear he’s paying a price in the polling. Two-thirds (67%) of respondents had seen (or heard) the RGA ads. Of those, 21% said they were more likely to vote for Patrick because of the ads. Only 15% said they were more likely to vote for Baker while 10% said they were more likely to vote for Cahill.

It’s not all good news for the governor. Patrick’s job approval numbers are in negative territory (42% approve, 49% disapprove).  The poll also shows only one-third of Massachusetts voters think he deserves a second term, an encouraging sign for GOP strategists.

But, it’s still too early to tell whether or not Republicans who wanted a two-man contest with the once-embattled governor have misread the Bay State’s political winds.  Can Baker replicate Scott Brown’s surprise victory?  The demographics of a general election are far different than those of a special. There will be more voters going to the polls in November than this past January.

For a Republican to win statewide in this state where the GOP constitutes a small portion of the electorate, they have to win over a large percentage of independents and Baker’s margin over Patrick at this point isn’t nearly enough.

Patrick captured 76 percent of registered Democrats, while Baker won 77 percent of registered Republicans.  Among independents, Baker led Patrick by 35 percent to 26 percent, far less than the 64 percent to 29 percent advantage among independents that Scott Brown had over Martha Coakley in a Jan. 14 Suffolk University/7 News survey.  That survey was the first live telephone poll to show Brown winning.

Thus far, Baker hasn’t caught Brown’s magic.

Categories : Massachusetts, Polls, RGA
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