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 South Dakota


Guber Quick Hits, Mon 9/6/10

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Alabama: Democratic gubernatorial wannabe Ron Sparks is raising eyebrows over his comments supporting the reelection of Republican Richard Shelby to the US Senate.

Hawaii: The gubernatorial contest is taking on a religious tone, as Hawaii GOP chairman Jonah Kaauwai asked local pastors to bar Democrat Mufi Hannemann from public appearances in their churches.

Idaho: Republicans in the state legislature are trying to minimize the role Democratic guber wannabe Keith Allred played in a 2006 property tax reform effort that resulted in most Idahoans paying lower property taxes. Are they worried that Allred could actually be a contender to upset incumbent Butch Otter?

Maryland: As Maryland voters begin early voting in next week’s primary, Bob Ehrlich’s campaign is pointing to a surge in fundraising during the most recent eighteen-day reporting period as evidence his candidacy is gaining momentum. Despite raising nearly $500K more than the incumbent O’Malley, the Democrat still holds a nearly 3-to-1 advantage in cash on hand.

Massachusetts: Charlie Baker is calling in the GOP heavy hitters to help raise money for his guber bid. Maverick (that’s a good thing in the Bay State, even if it caused him headaches in his reelection) John McCain and wonderboy and fellow Massachusetts politico Sen. Scott Brown are both headlining an Oct. 1 fundraiser in Boston.

Michigan: Former Gateway exec Rick Snyder poured $6 million of his own fortune into buying the GOP guber nod. His total spending of $7.6 million was roughly equal to what all the other campaigns spent combined.

Nevada: Bush’s Rasputin is riding to the GOP’s rescue in the Silver State, where Republicans keep finding ways to fumble their mid-term advantage to the Democrats. Can his infusion of cash and television ads push GOP to wins over the Reid mini-dynasty?

South Carolina: When it comes to the gubernatorial race, pro-choice voters don’t have a choice.

South Dakota: South Dakota politicians have a history of living life in the fast-lane – literally. Former Gov. Bill Janklow spent time in prison for vehicular manslaughter because he was driving too fast. This year’s crop of candidates include quite a few who like to push the pedal to the metal, including both guber contenders.

Wyoming: GOP guber nominee Matt Mead spent an eye-popping (by Wyoming standards, at least) $1.4 million to win the GOP primary.


Pollapalooza Saturday

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Georgia: This Tuesday’s GOP gubernatorial runoff between Sarah Palin’s Karen Handel and Mike Huckabee’s Nathan Deal is too close to call, according to a new poll by InsiderAdvantage. The two are tied with 46% of the vote, with 8% still undecided. (Polling conducted 8/5, 514 Likely GA Voters, MoE +/- 4%)

Michigan: The voters had barely finished casting their ballots in the Wolverine State gubernatorial primaries when Razzmatazz Reports took their first snapshot of the general election contest between Democrat Virg Bernero and Republican Rick Snyder.  The GOP businessman leads the Lansing mayor 49%-37%. The 12-point margin is unchanged from the one previous look the same pollster took at the then-hypothetical matchup in early June, when Snyder led 42%-30%. (Polling conducted 8/4, 500 Likely MI Voters, MoE +/- 4.5%)

Rhode Island: A new Brown University survey of the Ocean State’s three-way gubernatorial contest finds Democrat Frank Caprio and Independent Lincoln Chafee in a virtual tie with Caprio at 28% and Chafee at 27%. Republican John Robitaille is a virtual non-factor in the contest garnering only 8%. Nearly a third of respondents remain undecided. (Polling conducted 7/27-30, 702 RI voters, MoE +/-3.7%)

South Dakota: The prolific gang over at RazzleDazzle Reports takes another look at the South Dakota race and find Republican Dennis Daugaard opening a more than two-to-one advantage over Democratic challenger Scott Heidepriem, 59%-27%. It has been nearly four decades since a Democrat won there, but can the gap really be that big? (Polling conducted 8/3, 500 Likely SD Voters, MoE +/- 4%)


Guber Quick Hits, Mon, 6/28/10

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California: If you are a MEGaWoman, Megabucks wants you to proudly display her campaign’s poppy decals.

Colorado: GOP guber wannabe Scott McInnis has won the endorsements of 36 county sheriffs.

Connecticut: Former Connecticut Gov. John Rowland is filling in on local talk radio over the Fourth of July holiday. Will it be long before he joins another disgraced former governor, Eliot Spitzer with his own show?

Florida: Add another establishment figure to Bill McCollum’s effort to circle the GOP wagons as his campaign defends against the Rick Scott onslaught. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich will endorse the embattled former Clinton impeachment manager today.

Georgia: Is Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer trying to challenge Sarah Palin as a GOP queenmaker? She’s endorsing fellow gubernatorial wannabe Karen Handel in Georgia’s GOP primary saying she believes Handel will “fight to pass similar illegal immigration laws in Georgia.”

Maryland: Former Gov. Bob Ehrlich abandoned his wife this weekend. She’s going solo on their Saturday morning radio program as he heads off for his gubernatorial campaign. A court had ruled that staying on the radio would’ve been an in-kind campaign contribution if he continued hosting the show after he formally filed campaign papers. With the July 6th deadline just around the corner, the former (and wannabe future) governor signed off at the end of this week’s show.

Minnesota: Rumors are circulating in the Gopher State about GOP voters crossing over party lines to participate in the Independence Party primary. The absence of a primary contest in the guber race and the desire to torpedo former GOP fixture Tom Horner’s Independent Party bid are fueling the talk.

Pennsylvania: Term-limited Gov. Ed Rendell, a mainstay of Keystone State politics for over three decades, tells the Harrisburg Patriot-News he’s ready to leave office and put the media scrutiny behind him. The recent media frenzy over a rumored affair with a former beauty queen seems to have been the final straw.

South Dakota: Scott Heidepriem’s Light Guv pick, businessman Ben Arndt has formally switched his party registration from Republican to Democrat to assure the ticket will be certified for the November ballot. Republicans had threatened to go to court to block the Heidepriem/Arndt ticket.

There had been some speculation that the crowded Republican field in the South Dakota gubernatorial contest might result in a run-off if the top vote-getter didn’t reach the 35% threshold.

But Lt. Governor Dennis Daugaard cruised to a surprisingly easy victory over four other Republican pretenders in Tuesday’s primary bypassing a run-off and heading straight into the general election contest against Democratic House Minority Leader Scott Heidepriem. The strongest fundraiser in the GOP filed, Daugaard, had been considered one of the front-runners along with Dave Knudson, who had garnered the endorsements from the Rapid City Journal and Sioux Falls Argus Leader.

South Dakota Republican Gubernatorial Primary Results


Dennis Daugaard




Scott Munsterman




Dave Knudson




Gordon Howie




Ken Knuppe




Total Votes





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This may be the state voting today where the strength of the Tea Party may help determine the GOP gubernatorial nominee.

Gordon Howie, who bills himself as the Tea Party candidate, isn’t favored to win in the five candidate field, especially with news about property tax delinquencies, receiving federal handouts and drunk driving charges against his wife all making headlines.  But he could, along with two other “outsider” candidates Scott Munsterman and Ken Knuppe, make it difficult for either of the two front-runners Lt. Gov Dennis Daugaard (who leads the money race) and Senate Majority Leader Dave Knudson (who received the major newspaper endorsements over the past week) to achieve the 35% threshold needed to win the nomination outright.

That would trigger a run-off between the top two vote getters. This could be one of the more interesting races to watch tonight as returns come in.

Waiting in the wings is Independent Democrat Scott Heidepriem, who has one of my favorite ads of the season thus far.

Categories : South Dakota, Tea Party
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Guber Quick Hits, Tues 6/1/10

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Maryland: The BP oil spill has reignited the offshore drilling debate in the guber race between Martin O’Malley and Bob Ehrlich. O’Malley is pointing to the ecological and economic disaster in the Gulf as further evidence against increased drilling, especially near the environmentally sensitive Chesapeake Bay. Ehrlich, while not advocating drilling off Maryland’s shoreline, does argue in support of Alaskan drilling.

New York: Rick Lazio won the Conservative Party nod over the weekend – barely getting over 50% - and could face a primary challenge from Erie County’s Ralph Lorigo, an ally of Carl Paladino. The infighting within the GOP circles in New York make is seem inconceivable they might come together this fall and actually mount a credible campaign against Andrew Cuomo.

Ohio: GOP guber wannabe John Kasich has a new book he wants you to know about. Every Other Monday is touted “as an honest look at how to build faith find solace, even during the most heart-breaking circumstances, and offers a template for reconsidering how we make everyday choices as well as life-changing decisions.” Who would’ve thought the former Fox News  personality had a Deepak Chopra hidden inside? Perhaps he discovered these profound insights while pocketing millions during his time at Lehman Brothers?

South Dakota: Democrat SD House Minority Leader Scott Heidepriem launched his campaign last week, stressing his independence from partisan ideology, vowing to cut the size of state government and promising to never raise taxes. In a display that national Democrats view Heidepriem as a viable candidates, the DGA has donated $50K to his campaign. Today he followed in the steps of Utah Democrat Peter Corroon who picked a GOP Light Guv running mate by selecting Republican businessman and political newcomer Ben Arndt.

Wyoming: Billing herself as a “Freudenthal Democrat,” Wyoming Democratic Chairwoman Leslie Peterson filed campaign papers at the very last possible minute last Friday. Party leaders say her candidacy gives Cowboy State Democrats “a candidate who can galvanize political support statewide.”


Guber Quick Hits, Sun 5/30/10

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Arizona: In a move that took Attorney General Terry Goddard by surprise, the former Maricopa County Attorney publicly announced Goddard was not a target of an investigation into a 2006 plea agreement with former state Treasurer David Peterson. The former prosecutor wanted to remove any suspicion that may have been hanging over Goddard’s run for governor. Maricopa Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s office refuted the statement, saying Goddard and other employees remained targets of the probe, which is now under review by the US Department of Justice’s Office of Public Integrity.

Connecticut: Dan Malloy, trailing Ned Lamont in the polls and unable to match the self-financing Greenwich millionaire’s deep pockets, has challenged his fellow Democrat to 17 debates. That’s one for every city or town that has daily newspaper in the Nutmeg State. That’s also more than one a week before the August 10th primary.

Hawaii: In perhaps the least surprising candidate announcement since last week when Andrew Cuomo jumped into the NY race, Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann finally made it official. He’s running for the Democratic guber nomination against old rival Neil Abercrombie.

Idaho: If Butch Otter’s underwhelming victory over perennial candidate Rex Rammell brought hope to Democrat Keith Allred’s campaign, the news that Rammell won’t support the incumbent in November must have them dreaming of an upset. Their impressive fundraising pace means they’ll have the ability to go toe-to-toe with Otter financially.

Maryland: Meet Bob Ehrlich’s version of Joe the Plumber, Steve Kolbe. Perhaps aware of just how silly this story is, the Ehrlich campaign sought to distance themselves from the story while embracing it at the same time.

With cooked up press events dominating all levels of politics, Ehrlich was quick to point out that his campaign did not “manufacture” this one. “This event just occurred,” he said. This is unscheduled politics.”

Michigan I: Rep. Pete Hoekstra lifted one of John McCain’s (failed) talking points from the 2008 presidential campaign.

Michigan II: GOP candidate Rick Snyder is on the campaign trail touting  his nerdy version of “tough love” to Michigan business groups. It’s the end of the world as they know it.

Minnesota: DFLer Matt Entenza is the final major party guber hopeful to make his Light Guv running mate selection. He’s shaking up the race by going outside the political sphere and naming former TV  news anchor Robyne Robinson as his political dance partner.

New Mexico: Susana Martinez has received substantial backing (to the tune of $450,000) from a Swift Boat funder and his wife.

South Carolina: In the unfolding Nikki Haley “He said, she said” saga it’s getting harder to believe she’s telling the whole truth. Blogger Chris Folks has released phone records showing 600 phone calls between the two. The most suspicious – late at night, with some lasting until dawn – occurred in the summer of ’07.

South Dakota: Tea Party candidate Gordon Howie and his wife have received over $300K in farm subsidies over the past fifteen years. What was that about the evils of big government? I could see how his Tea Party supporters might have overlooked his failure to pay nearly $60K in property taxes. Starving the beast is one thing. Suckling from it is quite another.

Tennessee: GOP guber hopeful Zach Wamp does his best Schwarzenegger impersonation, pumps up the testosterone, and warns Tennessee voters to not elect a “sissy wannabe as your next governor.”

South Dakota State Sen. Gordon Howie, a rancher and real estate developer owes $56,863 in property taxes on thirty pieces of property. He’s also running in the crowded GOP gubernatorial primary on June 8 and declares himself “the Tea Party candidate for governor.”

How’s this for a window into what motivates some of these candidates to run?

Howie is the unofficial tea party candidate, running a campaign against taxes and spending. Last year, he was the prime sponsor of a bill that would have raised the state sales tax from 4 percent to 6 percent. The bill, which failed, called for using the increases in sales taxes to lower property taxes statewide, an effort that some questioned because of Howie’s profession.

I’m not sure how anyone could look beyond this blatant self-interest and still support his candidacy.

Categories : South Dakota, Tea Party
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Quick Hits, Tuesday 5/18/10

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California: Today is primary day in Oregon, the only state that conducts it’s elections entirely by mail-in ballot. In California absentee voting has grown steadily in recent elections. How has this affected campaigning and strategy in the Golden State? The San Jose Mercury News took a look recently.

Colorado: A word of advice to GOPer Dan Maes. When you’re trying to make the case you’re the fiscally conservative candidate, having to answer questions about hiring your teenage daughter and being reimbursed $33,000 for gas money doesn’t help you make your case.

Florida: A new poll shows two-thirds of Floridians support allowing gay men and lesbians to openly serve in the military. This can’t be  good news for guber wannabe Bill McCollum, who’s anti-gay crusade has been in the headlines recently.

Illinois: Ousted Dem Light Guv nominee (and newly-minted Indy Guber Wannabe) Scott Lee Cohen is accusing an unnamed top Democrat of threatening him with jail if he did not quit the Quinn ticket after allegations of holding a knife to an ex-girlfriend’s throat. Who among the Dems is stupid enough to threaten a steroid-using pawnbroker with that kind of background?

New York: The political gamesmanship in New York continues. Conservative Party Chairman Mike Long believes the gubernatorial game is over for Steve Levy has moved his party’s convention to May 28, jumping ahead of the GOP.

South Dakota: Guber wannabe and Tea Party fave Gordon Howie isn’t a big fan of that church/state separation thingy.

Wisconsin: Another GOP candidate has flip-flopped on immigration. This time it’s Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker.

Wyoming: Cowboy State Dems gathered for their convo this past weekend and the scarcity of candidates reveals the GOP dominance in the state. Not only have they thus far failed to find a legitimate candidate for governor, they also don’t have candidates for treasurer, auditor or secretary of state. Today, a sacrificial Dem was located, Natrona County Dem Chairwoman R.C. Johnson said she’d run if the party doesn’t find someone before the May 28th filing deadline.


Quick Hits, Tuesday 5/11/10

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California: Absentee voting in the June 8 primary is underway. Mail-in ballots have become increasingly popular among Golden State voters, where 41% of the total votes cast in the 2008 presidential election were by mail. Will early voting effectively blunt the recent momentum Steve Poizner has seen in recent polling (Survey USA has Poizner within the margin of error)  in the GOP contest? It certainly aided Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primaries, as many Californians had started sending in their ballots prior to then-Senator Barack Obama’s historic victory in the Iowa caucuses.

Connecticut: Leading Nutmeg State Democrats are picking their Light Guv dance partners. Last week, it was Ned Lamont picking Mary Glassman. This week, it’s former Danbury Mayor Dannel Malloy selecting state Comptroller Nancy Wyman.

Florida: Charlie Crist is leaning closer to calling for a special legislative session, possibly as soon as the week of May 24. On the agenda: permanently banning offshore drilling within state waters (which extend 10 miles out). Asked if he believes there’s support in the state legislature for a constitutional amendment,

“The governor predicted getting at least 72 House members and 24 senators to vote for a drilling ban would be easy. “Now?” He said. “Who’s going to vote against that?”

The only glitch is that state lawmakers had been using income from offshore leasing to plug holes in the budget. That’s the not-so-easy part.

Maine: More on the Tea Party tempest that boiled over at the Maine Republican convention this past weekend. Some Republicans are worrying the lurch to the right hurts the GOP in November. Democrats are hoping they’re right.

Massachusetts: Scott Brown’s vacant state senate seat will be  filled by the end of the day. The Attleboro Sun Chronicle (the paper that used to get delivered to my house when I was growing up) has a piece on why the outcome is important to both parties.

Michigan: The Democratic guber field has been winnowed down to two. The departure of state Rep. Alma Wheeler Smith from the race leaves Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero facing off against House Speaker Andy Dillon. As the Detroit News observes, most analysts expect Smith’s departure to help Bernero, as both hail from the liberal wing of the party. It should set up a major battle over the direction of the Democratic Party in a critical swing state that has been battered by the economic recession unlike any other. This is a primary race to watch.

South Dakota: More Red State Blues for Democrats – In another sign of a Republican renaissance, the South Dakota GOP has experienced a rebound in voter registration. Democrats, after peaking at a all-time high in June 2009, have seen their numbers slip over the past year.