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 Wyoming


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.

At one point during this election cycle, it seemed that Sarah Palin was the GOP’s Queen Bee.  Her blessing was capable of turning an also ran into a formidable front-runner. After Nikki Haley’s meteoric rise in South Carolina, Palin was widely credited in the national media for her come-from-behind victory over a crowded field of career politicians.

The Mama Mama Grizzly was on a roll.

But after two straight Tuesdays and two disappointing losses for Sarah Palin’s pack of Mama Grizzlys, I got to wondering what’s changed. Last week it was Karen Handel’s narrow loss to ethically-challenged former Congressman Nathan Deal in the Georgia GOP guber runoff. Last night, it was Rita Meyer falling in a razor-thin loss to Matt Mead in Wyoming.

It’s not just the primary losses. The Manchester Union Leader - the conservative newspaper of record in New Hampshire – took Palin to task for meddling in the Granite State’s closely contested US Senate primary. In Georgia, the state GOP establishment rallied against Palin as a huge bloc of the state legislature rallied to Deal’s side during the runoff campaign.

Did Sarah lose her Midas touch?

Or did GOP primary voters read those polls that showed Palin as a drag on a nominee in a general election matchup? In Georgia, did voters (following the lead of their elected leaders) look ahead to a formidable opponent in former Gov. Roy Barnes and fear a Palin-backed Handel being brought down by the association?

In Wyoming, where nearly everyone agrees last night’s GOP primary was the real gubernatorial contest, did Meyer lose because Dems crossed over and voted against Palin?

Just wondering.


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.


Guber Quick Hits, TGIF 8/13/10

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Alaska: Citing the tragic death of former Sen. Ted Stevens in a plane crash along Alaska’s southwest coast, Gov. Sean Parnell suspended his campaign activity. As a result, the Commonwealth North sponsored GOP gubernatorial debate between Parnell, Bill Walker and Ralph Samuels has postponed until August 23rd, the day before the primary election.

Florida: The GOP primary fight between Bill McCollum and Rick Scott has gotten so personal that McCollum is publicly doubting whether or not he would support Scott if he wins the nomination.

Georgia: Mike Huckabee is taking (at least partial) credit for Nathan Deal’s razor-thin victory in the GOP runoff over Sarah Palin’s Peach State Mama Grizzly, Karen Handel.

Massachusetts: Former GOP guber wannabe Chrisy Mihos has been fined a ‘whopping’ seventy grand for repeated campaign violations. It’s the highest such fine in Bay State history.

Nevada: What constitutes a formal debate? In GOP guber wannabe Brian Sandoval’s world answering three impromptu questions from your rival counts.

New York: Look for the Union Label ~ the Democratic gubernatorial ticket of Andrew Cuomo and Bob Duffy keeps racking up the labor endorsements.

Oregon: Republican Chris Dudley accepted his first debate, but there’s one catch – it’s not one of the seven proposed by Democrat John Kitzhaber.

Wyoming: Colin Simpson – the scion of a Wyoming Republican political dynasty - picked up the support of another GOP political dynasty’s patriarch, George H. W. Bush.


Guber Quick Hits, Mon 7/19/10

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Connecticut: One of the state’s largest labor coalitions, the SEIU, is throwing its weight behind Democrat Dan Malloy in his primary contest against front-runner Ned Lamont.

Florida: The state Republican establishment continues it’s efforts to save the sinking guber campaign of Bill McCollum, with soon-to-be-senate president Mike Haridopolos chipping in $50K to McCollum’s Florida First Initiative 527.

Idaho: Democratic challenger Keith Allred is on the campaign trail holding a series of  ’town hall’ meetings with real voters. Incumbent Butch Otter has taken a starkly different approach in his reelection campaign, as he ducked the only public debate of the primary campaign.

Illinois: The two major party guber contenders start the second half of the year on equal financial footing.

Minnesota: The MN chapter of the National Organization for Women passed over Margaret Anderson Kelliher, the first woman to win a major-party guber nomination in the state, to endorse Matt Entenza.

Vermont: Democratic guber wannabe Peter Shumlin is getting support from medical providers because he’s the only candidate advocating a single-payer health care bill.

Wyoming: Democrat Dave Freudenthal explains his idea to sell state-controlled parcels of Grand Teton National Park.

Wyoming: GOP guber candidate Ron Micheli is providing a new twist to the “compassionate conservative” label, as he finds himself embroiled in a controversy after writing a letter of support for a convicted rapist.


Guber Quick Hits, Mon 7/5/10

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Alabama: The state teachers union is questioning Bradley Byrne’s charitable foundation’s potentially illegal diversion of $200,000 to a Republican political operative.

Alaska: Someone up in the Last Frontier either has a sense of humor or hasn’t been paying attention to the anti-Obama rhetoric that spews from demagogue Glenn Beck every night.

Arizona: Jan Brewer’s latest outrageous claims about illegal immigration – that beheaded bodies are littering the desert – have been refuted by local law enforcement.

California: Democrat Jerry Brown wants voters to help him fix California’s “constipated” government.

Connecticut: Former GOP guber rivals Michael Fedele and Mark Boughton have combined their donor bases as part of their gubernatorial ticket to help qualify for public financing. They’re going to need it to catch up to uber-wealthy Greenwich businessman Tom Foley who holds big leads in most public polls.

Florida: After bashing each other for being the more pro-gay candidate, Bill McCollum scored the endorsement of the Florida Family Policy Council leader over rival Rick Scott.

Iowa: After flirting with mounting a primary challenge to Chet Culver, local publisher Jonathan Narcisse tells the Des Moines Register he’s back – and running as in independent this November.

Kansas: Gov. Mark Parkinson – a former state GOP chair and donor to Sam Brownback – has endorsed Democrat Tom Holland citing his proven track record of bipartisan accomplishment.

Nevada: It’s become a distinct possibility that Rory could lose the support of Nevada’s firefighters union to Republican Brian Sandoval.

New Hampshire: Republican guber nominee John Stephen cancelled the bikini-clad babes who were going to add some spice to a July 11th fundraiser after Democrats decried the event as an affront to women.

New Mexico: Will an all-Hispanic GOP gubernatorial ticket cause conservative Republican voters to abandon their party this November?

Oregon: Proving once again that cutting spending is more difficult than the rhetoric suggests, former Portland Trail Blazer Chris Dudley (and GOP guber wannabe) is lobbying Portland’s schools against cutting funding for PE.

Pennsylvania: GOP guber hopeful Tom Corbett is refusing a request by an environmental group to return a $3,000 donation from Anadarko Petroleum, one of the companies responsible for the Deepwater Horizon disaster.

Tennessee: In a game of who’s got the biggest Tea Party guest list, GOP guber wannabes trade lists.  First, it was Ron Ramsey touting how many Tea Partiers thought he was cool. Not to be outdone, Bill Haslam rolled out his roster a few days later.

Wyoming: Elderly pitchman Wilfred Brimley has cut a radio ad endorsing GOP candidate Rita Meyer. Here’s the audio in which he praises Meyer as a staunch supporter of state’s rights and her promise “to do her utmost to keep the federal government out of our business and most of all, out of our wallets.”


Guber Quick Hits, TGIF 6/11/10

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California: When will it end? Another politician is using nazi references on the campaign trail. This time it’s Democrat Jerry Brown comparing Meg Whitman’s television blitz to Goebbel’s infamous Nazi propaganda machine. Come on, Jerry, really?

He didn’t stop himself there. He revealed a hint of sexism as he rambled on about her long-term goals. “She wants to be president. That’s her ambition, the first woman president. That’s what this is all about.”

Georgia: And the endorsements keep rolling in for former Governor Roy Barnes. The AJC’s Jim Galloway has a list of prominent Georgians backing Barnes, topped by yesterday’s coup – the support of DeKalb County DA, Gwen Keyes Fleming. Her backing is significant because of where she’s from (rival guber wannabe Thurbert Baker’s home turf) and what she represents (she’s the only African American female District Attorney in the state).

Texas: The Green Party has agreed to refrain from nominating candidates for statewide office until at least June 24 when a state court will hear a Democratic challenge of the legality of the third party’s petition drive. Democrats contend the gathering of the necessary signatures was an illegal “in-kind” donation made by a corporation with Republican ties. If the Greens do field a gubernatorial candidate, most observers believe Rick Perry is the beneficiary and could swing the election to the incumbent in a close contest.

Wisconsin: The Republican primary contest between Mark Neumann and Scott Walker has gotten nasty. Neumann’s camp is accusing Walker of running negative push polls, but a GOP insider who originally supported Neumann’s bid is urging him to end his campaign because he’s “aghast” at the accusations Neumann’s camp is making.

Wyoming: Democrat Leslie Petersen is actually using her party as an asset in deeply red Wyoming. At a recent forum on energy issues, Petersen sought to embrace the legacy of outgoing Democrat (and still popular) Gov. Dave Freudenthal and said she may have more of an opportunity to discuss energy and environmental issues with the federal government. “I think I could bring something to (disagreeing with federal agencies) that we might not get if we’re just solidly, solidly Republican,” Petersen said.


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.”


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.

With this guy as the only Democrat tossing his hat in the ring to replace outgoing Democratic Governor Dave Freudenthal, some Wyoming Dems are planning on changing parties. It’s a sign of the Democrats troubles in the state when a former party chairman is among those planning switching his registration.

Former Wyoming Democratic Party Chairman John Millin of Cheyenne said he’s among the Democrats who intend to register as Republicans for the Aug. 17 primary.

“People accept the reality that our next governor is going to be decided in the Republican primary,” said Millin, who has endorsed House Speaker Colin Simpson, a Cody Republican, in the primary. “And you can sit back and moan and groan about it, or you can switch parties for a couple days and go in and participate.”

The Wyoming Democratic State Convention starts Friday in Casper, but party officials say they don’t have a candidate for governor who will address the gathering. Although a couple of Democrats have declared for the office, they’re not running statewide campaigns so far, and state party officials say they don’t regard them as viable candidates.

Democrats are seriously outnumbered (165,000 to 56,000) in the Cowboy State. Without a serious nominee, the winner of the GOP nomination will essentially determine the state’s next governor. The absence of a Democratic option, participating in the only race in town could be considered a civic responsibility. The failure to field a serious candidate is a setback for the party. Opting to not participate in the election could result in the election of a far right fringe Republican, which the Democratic faithful would see as a serious setback for the entire state.

Cross-over voting is not uncommon in the state. Clearly, with that registration gap, Freudenthal would’ve never been elected – the second time, comfortably – without some Republican support. Even the current Democratic executive director has done it in the past.

Bill Luckett, Wyoming Democratic Party executive director, said he doesn’t believe it would hurt the party as a whole if Democrats switch their registration for this year’s election.

“It’s not like people are changing their principles that they believe in,” said Luckett, who registered as a Republican for the 2004 elections. “At the end of the day, it’s not about counting the number of people in your party, it’s about counting the number of votes for the candidates on the ballot.”

The four leading Republicans are state House Speaker Colin Simpson, son of straight-talking former US Senator (and current co-chair of Obama’s fiscal commission), former US Attorney Matt Mead, State Auditor Rita Meyer, and former state Rep. and Agriculture Director Ron Micheli. There is no clear front-runner in the group. If a significant number of Democrats decide to switch and participate they could determine the winner.

Video of each addressing the Wyoming state GOP convention is after the jump (h/t to the Wyoming Reporter) Read More→

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