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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Sep
06

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.

Sep
01

Guber Quick Hits, Wed 9/1/10

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California: MegaBucks Whitman may end up on a jury after all.

Iowa: The massive, nationwide egg recall has become an issue in the Iowa gubernatorial contest, as Republican Terry Branstad has denounced the Democratic AG Tom Miller of cutting a deal with Jack DeCoster – the egg producer identified as a ‘habitual violator’ of state environmental laws – and linking that leniency to a $10,000 campaign donation to Miller. Miller claims Branstad’s got the facts wrong – but has returned the campaign donation. Governor Chet Culver has tried to pass the oversight responsibility off to the feds.

Maine: Independent guber wannabe Elliot Cutler is finding a middle ground when it comes to environmental policy in the Pine Tree State. He doesn’t support rolling back the state’s environmental regulations but he does want to eliminate the Board of Environmental Protection – whose 10 citizen members are an obstacle blocking  Maine’s economic growth.

Maryland: Former Gov. Bob Ehrlich is looking for votes in unexpected places in his rematch against Gov. Martin O’Malley, the WaPo reports.

Michigan: The Tea Party of Michigan is appealing last week’s court decision that blocked the party from fielding candidates on November’s ballot. The party, which Republicans criticize as a Democratic Party-inspired effort to drain votes from GOP candidates, was tossed from the ballot because the font on the party’s petitions was the incorrect size for the “THE” in the party’s name.

Minnesota: After backing Republican Tim Pawlenty’s successful gubernatorial bids in 2002 and 2006, the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis switched parties this time around and is backing DFL nominee Mark Dayton.

Nevada: GOP Senate nominee Sharron Angle is questioning why GOP guber nominee Brian Sandoval didn’t stand up to former Gov. Kenny Guinn in 2003 when the governor challenged a voter-passed constitutional amendment requiring a two-thirds vote to increase taxes. It’s not usually a good thing to see separation between a party’s top nominees on a statewide ballot, but Sandoval may not mind having some distance between himself and Angle as he aims for support from the middle.

New Mexico: GOP nominee Susana Martinez is vowing to repeal New Mexico’s medical marijuana law if she’s elected governor.

South Carolina: Democrat Vincent Sheheen has proposed a series of five Lincoln-Douglas debates with Republican nominee Nikki Haley.

Texas: Democrat Bill White is hoping to tap into some of the anti-incumbent anger roiling the nation this year by calling for a referendum to limit the Lone Star State governor to two four-year terms. Could it be the tactic that reminds people of just how long Rick Perry has been sitting pretty in the Austin Governor’s Mansion? It didn’t work for Kay Bailey Hutchison in the GOP primary, but could it resonate among the broader electorate?

Vermont: While GOP guber nominee Brian Dubie awaits the winner of the Democratic recount he hasn’t shied away from attacking all the Democrats still standing as ‘pro-tax’ and has challenged the eventual winner to a series of a dozen debates. In the meantime, the Democrats have unified – and are campaigning together as they await the recount.

Aug
31

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.

Aug
14

Guber Quick Hits, Sat 8/14/10

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Arizona: Democrat Terry Goddard is spending his Clean Elections grant for the primary at a much slower pace than his Republican counterpart, Jan Brewer.

Iowa: Former Des Moines School Board member Jonathan Narcisse – who flirted with running in the Democratic primary against Gov. Chet Culver – reports he’s gathered the required signatures to qualify for the ballot as an independent.

Iowa II: Campaigning like it’s 1982. Embattled Democratic Gov. Chet Culver, trailing former GOP Gov. Terry Branstad by large margins in every publicly released poll of the contest, has turned to his father – a former US Senator – to help him on the campaign trail.

Maine: Talk about party unity. Democratic guber nominee Libby Mitchell has enlisted the support of her former primary foes to head her policy committees.

Maryland: Former Gov. Bob Ehrlich has proposed a series of five debates (three on the radio, two on the TeeVee) against Democratic incumbent Martin O’Malley. O’Malley, clearly hoping to elevate the profile of long-shot candidate Brian Murphy,  says he’s happy to debate the Republican nominee  - once the GOP primary determines a winner.

Texas: Rick Perry has steadfastly refused to debate Democratic challenger Bill White until White releases every scintilla of his personal financial and tax information. Now, he’s announced he won’t meet with any Lone Star State editorial boards prior to the election.

Wyoming: Matt Mead has invested nearly $900K of his own money in his effort to win the GOP guber nod in the Cowboy State. That’s a huge sum in the nation’s least populous state, where a closely contested primary victory could require less than 50,000 votes.

Aug
07

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%)

Jul
28

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?

Jul
01

Guber Quick Hits, Wed 7/1/10

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Alabama: Dick Morris, the keynote speaker at the GOP Summer Dinner not-so-subtly advocated voting for one candidate over another in the GOP guber primary.

California: It’s the first day of another fiscal year and once again California’s dysfunctional political system has failed to reach agreement on this year’s budget, which has a projected shortfall of $19.1 billion.

Connecticut: Talk about off-message – GOP guber wannabe Tom Foley has been in getting unwanted headlines about a decades-old arrests over road rage incidents. Now he’s got his ex-wife signing an affidavit he never abused her.

Georgia: Insurance Commissioner (and GOP guber wannabe) John Oxendine raised over $800K during the past two months.

New York: David Paterson is swearing off politics at the end of his disastrous partial term as New York’s Accidental Governor.

Ohio: Good news for Democrat Tom Strickland as he seeks reelection. The Buckeye State finished the  fiscal year with a $139 million surplus. That’s a headline few governors have been able to celebrate in recent years.

Pennsylvania: Ed Rendell tells Politico that fellow Democrat Dan Onorato is the underdog in the race to replace him.

Texas: The players in next year’s biggest congressional redistricting contest have been cast. Lt. Gov. David Dewhirst has appointed the 11-member Senate Select Committee on Redistricting six months before the legislature convenes so the members can travel the state and get input from Texans on how best to redraw political boundaries.

Jun
30

Guber Quick Hits, Wed 6/30/10

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Georgia: Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine may be on the ethics hot seat next week now that a five-month vacancy on the Georgia Ethics Commission has been filled.

Illinois: GOP guber nominee Bill Brady backed away from his idea to lower the state’s minimum wage but proposed eliminating state matching contributions to state worker’s employee 401(k)s.

Massachusetts: Say whatever you want about Deval Patrick’s politics, but you can’t deny he’s a successful multi-tasker who apparently doesn’t suffer from writer’s block. He’s met his publisher’s deadline for his upcoming “inspirational memoir” about his life.

New Mexico: GOP guber nominee Susana Martinez has reprimanded a prosecutor in her Las Cruces District Attorney’s office for sending an anti-immigrant joke from a state e-mail account. Democrat Diane Denish says she would go further and fire the offending employee.

New York: Conservative Party Chairman Mike Long is furious with the state GOP’s continued efforts to create an additional line on the ballot for the Republican Party’s statewide candidates.

Jun
28

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.

Jun
27

Guber Quick Hits, Sun 6/27/10

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Connecticut: Larry DeNardis, a former congressman who ran for the GOP guber nod this year, endorsed Tom Foley in his contest against Oz Griebel and Michael Fedele.

Florida: The Florida Medical Association passed over former health care exec Rick Scott and endorsed Bill McCollum in the GOP gubernatorial primary.

Georgia: Millionaire outsider Ray Boyd, who had been denied entry into the GOP gubernatorial primary after refusing to take the party’s loyalty oath, has abandoned his independent guber bid.

Maine: A conservative website questions whether independent candidate Eliot Cutler’s ties to Maine are sufficient to become governor.

Rhode Island: Despite raising over $2.1 million for his gubernatorial bid, Democratic candidate Frank Caprio received a favorable decision from the state’s Elections Board opening the possibility he could receive public matching funds. His Democratic rival Patrick Lynch called the decision “ludicrous.”

Texas: Gov. Rick Perry has declared today a “Day of Prayer in Texas for the Gulf Coast.”

Texas II: At their state convention over the weekend, Lone Star Democrats decided to keep their confusing and controversial “Texas Two-Step” presidential nominating process.

Vermont: Progressive Party chair Martha Abbott is running for governor to lose. She aims to win the party’s nomination on Aug. 24 and then withdraw to make sure a progressive candidate doesn’t siphon votes from the Democratic nominee.