Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
July 31, 2014

Posts in "Gubernatorial"

July 11, 2014

Rating Change: Wisconsin Governor

walker 139 022214 445x286 Rating Change: Wisconsin Governor

Walker faces a competitive re-election bid. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Wisconsin is one of the most polarized state’s in the country, so Republican Gov. Scott Walker was never going to have an easy re-election bid. Full story

June 5, 2014

Why Do We Suddenly Care About Races for Lt. Governor?

The office of lieutenant governor is so important that five states don’t even have one, yet that hasn’t stopped the national political media from treating some contests for the office as crucial indicators of something.

In the recent primary runoff in Texas, anti-establishment conservative state Sen. Dan Patrick unseated incumbent Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst by a sizable margin. The result received considerable attention since it fit neatly into the “tea party takeover of the Republican Party” narrative that has been struggling to survive since all but one GOP member of Congress won his or her primary through the end of May.

Maybe it’s the proliferation of political reporters and news outlets or the lack of other serious contests, or a mixture of both, but the conclusion that a race for lieutenant governor has some larger, long-term political impact is still unproved. Full story

May 23, 2014

Rating Change: Georgia Governor

Gov. Nathan Deal had no problems in the Republican primary this week, but the November general election could be a different story.

Democrats held the governorship in Georgia for more than 130 years, until Republican Sonny Perdue defeated incumbent Gov. Roy Barnes in an upset in 2002. It looked like Democrats wouldn’t get another shot at the governor’s mansion for years to come, but a couple of missteps by Deal in his first term and his opponent’s unique pedigree could give Democrats an opportunity later this year. Full story

May 22, 2014

Race Rating Change: Michigan Governor

As a Republican governor in a blue state, Rick Snyder started the midterms as one of Democrats’ prime targets. But while Michigan has been a tossup for much of the cycle, it appears to be slipping from the top tier of opportunities.

At this stage, Maine, Pennsylvania and Florida are more likely Democratic takeovers, while Ohio and Michigan make up a distinct second tier of Democratic opportunities. In both cases, Republican governors are presiding over states that Barack Obama won in two presidential contests, but where Democratic challengers have yet to put together the type of campaigns often necessary to knock off incumbents — particularly when the national trend is working against them. Full story

May 21, 2014

Rating Change: Hawaii Governor

DNC Convention 2 090312 445x295 Rating Change: Hawaii Governor

Abercrombie, left, could lose votes to Hannemann. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

It’s only been eight years since Republican Linda Lingle was elected to her second term as governor of Hawaii. But her success in that race overestimates the GOP’s chances in future statewide elections, including this year’s gubernatorial race.

Lingle was Republicans’ best possible candidate for Senate last cycle, and she was crushed, 63 percent to 37 percent, by Democratic Rep. Mazie K. Hirono. That should give anyone pause when handicapping former Lt. Gov. James “Duke” Aiona’s challenge to Democratic Gov. Neil Abercrombie in the fall.

But former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann’s decision to run for governor as an independent changes the math of the race. The Honolulu mayor should be a credible enough candidate to raise the possibility of splitting the Democratic vote with Abercrombie, allowing the Republican, Aiona, to win the race with less than 50 percent of the vote. Full story

April 30, 2014

How to Ruin Your Interview With Stu Rothenberg

After interviewing more than 1,000 candidates for the House and Senate with my colleague, Stu Rothenberg, I’ve got a pretty good idea of what makes him tick and what just plain ticks him off.

Over the course of the past 25 years, Stu has garnered somewhat of a reputation of being a “hard” interview. And some party strategists and consultants probably have more colorful adjectives than that. Those are also probably the same folks who prepare their candidates for the alleged onslaught they will face when stepping into The Rothenberg Political Report offices.

But I’ll be honest with you: Stu is more bark than bite, and if candidates come in and act and talk like normal human beings, the vast majority come out on the other side unscathed. But there are a few ways a candidate can virtually guarantee a less than ideal outcome. Full story

March 4, 2014

Ratings Change: Illinois Governor

Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn of Illinois has been a political survivor, but the incumbent is facing his toughest race yet.

Quinn looked like a loser in 2010, when eight out of the nine public polls in October showed him losing, but he won. This cycle, it looked like the governor couldn’t get out of the Democratic primary, yet he cleared the field. Full story

February 4, 2014

Ratings Change: Kansas Governor

Is Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback at risk of losing re-election in a state Mitt Romney carried with 60 percent? An automated poll showing the GOP governor behind, a Democratic challenger who raised $1 million, and a group of moderate Republicans threatening to oppose Brownback have some people calling Kansas a sleeper race for 2014. But how vulnerable is he really?

State House Minority Leader Paul Davis, the likely Democratic nominee, looks like a credible contender. He has quickly consolidated the Democratic base while Brownback still has some work to do in rallying Republicans. Until that happens, we’re changing the Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call rating of the race to Republican Favored from Safe Republican.

A just-released Republican poll showed the governor leading Davis 42 percent to 31 percent. Brownback also had 45 percent favorable and 41 percent unfavorable ratings. The survey of likely voters was conducted on Jan. 29 by WPA Opinion Research.

You can read a more complete analysis of the race in “What’s the Matter with Brownback” ($), in the latest edition of the Rothenberg Political Report.

Updated 3:52pm to clarify the difference between the automated survey from last year and the new GOP poll from this year.

January 15, 2014

The Christie Investigation: From Inquiry to Lynching?

011514christie 426x335 The Christie Investigation: From Inquiry to Lynching?

Christie is the second-term governor of New Jersey. (Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

The two key questions are obvious. What did New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie know, and when did he know it?

When I first heard about the George Washington Bridge scandal, I assumed that the governor knew about the phony “traffic study” and the plan to stick it to Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich. Like almost every political reporter and analyst in Washington, D.C., I’m incredibly cynical, making it easy for me to believe the worst about any politician.

We still don’t know whether Christie told the entire truth at his news conference last week or whether the many investigations that are now developing — about the bridge scandal but also about other decisions made by the governor during his time in office — will show poor judgment or even malfeasance. Full story

December 16, 2013

Is Arkansas Really the Land of Opportunity for Democrats?

pryor 298 102913 445x290 Is Arkansas Really the Land of Opportunity for Democrats?

Pryor is vulnerable in 2014. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

When we think of political battlegrounds, states like Ohio and Florida come to mind. But every so often, a small state becomes a partisan political battleground.

This cycle, that’s Arkansas — about as unlikely a state as you might imagine.

While Democrats see Arkansas as a place to mount a counterattack after a series of defeats, Republicans believe that it will be the Democrats’ Waterloo. Eleven months from now we will know who is right.

Four races are worth watching, and if Democrats can’t win with the candidates they have, they will have every reason to write off the state in the future. Full story

December 12, 2013

The DNC’s Deceptive Message on Louisiana

I wasn’t surprised to get an email recently from a regional Democratic National Committee press secretary seeking to tarnish the credentials of Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.

After all, Jindal has become an outspoken Republican elected official and is mentioned as a possible contender for president in 2016. And if national Democrats can soften him up now, maybe that will help the prospects of the state’s senior senator, Mary L. Landrieu, who is up for re-election next year.

Still, the DNC email raised a question because it included this quote from the Times-Picayune, the largest newspaper in the state: “Jindal’s meager record at home won’t get him to the White House.”

Screen shot 2013 12 12 at 10.11.01 AM 445x183 The DNCs Deceptive Message on Louisiana

(Screenshot)

Full story

November 25, 2013

If Linda Lingle Could, Why Can’t Wendy Davis?

112513wendydavis 445x306 If Linda Lingle Could, Why Can’t Wendy Davis?

Davis is running for governor of Texas in 2014. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

As longtime readers of this column know, voters in one-party states sometimes elect the nominee of the “wrong” party as governor. Today’s question is whether state Sen. Wendy Davis, a Democrat, has a fighting chance to win next year’s gubernatorial election in Texas, which remains a rock-solid Republican state.

Davis was elected to the Fort Worth City Council in 1999 and was re-elected four times. She defeated an incumbent Republican state senator in 2008, and four years later she squeezed out re-election, 51.1 percent to 48.9 percent, against a Republican member of the state House who challenged her in what the Star-Telegram termed a “brawl.”  

In June, Davis filibustered Senate Bill 5, which would have banned abortions after 20 weeks and imposed new regulations on doctors and clinics performing abortions in Texas. The Fort Worth Democrat was successful in blocking a vote at the end of the special session, but Gov. Rick Perry called a second special session and the bill passed. It was signed into law on July 18. Full story

November 11, 2013

Why Most Postmortems of Virginia’s Gubernatorial Race Are Wrong

The dust has settled (mostly) from last week’s elections, so I thought it time to present a very different assessment of what happened in Virginia than the snapshot I’ve seen from others.

For example, Democracy Corps and Women’s Voices, Women Vote Action Fund distributed a wholly self-serving and unconvincing memo titled “Unmarried Women Cast Deciding Votes in Virginia Election.” It’s unconvincing, of course, because Republicans always lose unmarried women, regardless of an election’s outcome. Unmarried women are more liberal than most voters and are not part of any winning Republican coalition.

NBC’s Domenico Montanaro and The Washington Post’s Jonathan Capehart credited African-American turnout for Democrat Terry McAuliffe’s victory, as did Jamelle Bouie of The Daily Beast. Wrong as well, I’m afraid.

Others have noted, quite incorrectly, that the partisan makeup of the 2013 electorate wasn’t very different from the makeup of the 2012 electorate in Virginia, suggesting that Democrats have found some formula for turning out key voting groups in lower turnout elections that could help them offset what most expect to be a less Democratic-inclined electorate for the 2014 midterms.

While these assessments tell a part of the story and certainly should force Republican voters and strategists to take a clear-eyed look at the long-term prospects of the current GOP coalition, they don’t explain last week’s results in Virginia, nor do they offer meaningful insights into 2014. Full story

November 7, 2013

Buyer Beware: There Are Polls, and Then There Are Polls

Given the “success” (note sarcasm) of some polls in the Virginia gubernatorial race Tuesday, it might be worthwhile to note the very divergent surveys in the Texas gubernatorial race.

Public Policy Polling, which showed Terry McAuliffe with a 7-point lead among likely voters right before the election, found Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott leading Democratic state Sen. Wendy Davis by 15 points in its November 1-4 survey of 500 “Texas voters,” 50 percent to 35 percent. PPP, a Democratic firm based in North Carolina, used automated telephone interviews in conducting the survey.

But a University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll of 1,200 registered voters, conducted October 18-27, found the margin a much more narrow 6 points, 40 percent to 34 percent. The University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll is conducted by YouGov, which employs a controversial methodology. The survey, conducted over the Internet, relies on “a proprietary opt-in survey panel” that is not selected randomly. Full story

November 6, 2013

Victory Is in the Eye of the Beholder in New Jersey, Virginia and Alabama

 Victory Is in the Eye of the Beholder in New Jersey, Virginia and Alabama

McAuliffe, left, and Christie won last night. (Getty Images)

Tuesday’s election results offer something for everyone.

Democrats can look at Virginia and conclude that Republican “extremism” on social issues like abortion, contraception and guns, combined with the deep divisions that appeared in the Alabama 1st District GOP primary results, continue to offer them opportunities for 2014 and virtually guarantee victory in 2016.

Republicans can look at the tightness of the Virginia contest and conclude that the unpopularity of Obamacare strengthens their hand for 2014 and will be an albatross around the neck of the Democratic presidential nominee in 2016. Full story

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