The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

The Gubernatorial Interesting Biography Gap


Larry Sabato looks at all of the 2010 races for governor and predicts the GOP will win control of an additional 6 or 7 governor’s mansions.

I suppose this is in the eye of the beholder, but the Republicans seem to have a more interesting crop of gubernatorial candidates this year: more candidates with interesting biographies, more candidates who could garner profiles and coverage outside of political publications, more figures who are likely to break through to apolitical voters.

Start with the much-discussed Nikki Haley, now popping up on the cover of Newsweek as “the face of the new South.” (When Newsweek is willing to put a flattering photo of a Republican woman on the cover, you know they really are desperate for sales.)

Then in Oregon, you have a former player for the NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers, Chris Dudley, a professional athlete with deep community ties and winner of USA Today’s Most Caring Athlete Award. In California, there’s Meg Whitman, a successful chief executive at eBay and a billionaire. In New Mexico, there’s Susana Martinez, a successful three-term corruption-busting district attorney, the first Latina woman nominated by a major party for governor in the U.S. In Nevada, there’s former state attorney general and judge Brian Sandoval, one of the few figures who can say they’ve been recommended by Harry Reid and George W. Bush.

Then in Vermont, there’s Brian Dubie, an incongruous figure as a front-running GOP officeholder who sounds like Chris Christie in the land of Ben & Jerry’s: 

In its May 2009 state-by-state examination of social services and benefits, The New York Times ranked Vermont as the most generous in the nation. Statistics from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Census Bureau indicate that Vermont ranks 5th in welfare recipients as a percent of population.

Yet, Vermont ranks in the middle of the states — 24th place — for per capita income. We must bring our human services spending into alignment with Vermonters’ ability to pay. Vermonters have always had a generous heart, but are limited by the size of their pocketbooks. My focus as governor will be on growing our economy, putting Vermonters back to work and restoring economic freedom and security for all Vermonters. The best social program is a good job… The basic reality is that government programs cannot grow faster than the underlying economy.

Sure, the GOP has some familiar faces and second-time-around candidates, in Rick Perry, Robert Ehrlich, Terry Branstad, John Kasich, Sam Brownback, etc. But looking over the Democratic crop of non-incumbents, there is a lot of old guard (Jerry Brown), sons of the old guard (Andrew Cuomo), and candidates who are comparably unknown in their own state. Perhaps one could argue Denver mayor John Hickenlooper has a colorful personality.

Tags: 2010


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