First, Harper Polling released a survey Thursday that showed Corbett trailing Democrat Tom Wolf by 11 percentage points, a much tighter race than two other recent polls found.
Second, the Republican Governors Association announced it gave $3.5 million to his campaign coffers – a possible indication that the national GOP has not written off Corbett. RGA had already given Corbett $1.8 million.
… you realize just how low the bar for “good news” has been set for Republican Gov. Tom Corbett in Pennsylvania.
If some other aspiring Republican governor falls just short — Bob Beauprez in Colorado? Tom Foley in Connecticut? Doug Ducey in Arizona? – that RGA donation of $3.5 million may look like a waste.
The Republican Governors Association is launching a new effort in the Virginia governor’s race: “liePad by Mack.”
The RGA promises a “new weekly web video series, a new website that houses all of McAuliffe’s lies to keep them straight, and a paid-media effort of advertising online through digital media and radio ads.”
Technically, the Republican Governors Association doesn’t have a dog in the fight in the two recall elections in Colorado on September 10. But they know that a GOP win or two against state senators John Morse and Angela Giron would be an ominous indicator for incumbent Democratic governor John Hickenlooper.
So they’re shining a new spotlight on how Hickenlooper lost his way, governed much farther to the left than he campaigned, overreached, and now finds himself with dreary approval numbers:
Hickenlooper signed into law the new gun bills that have those state senators in trouble — new restrictions on magazine capacity, new taxes on firearms transfers (sales), and he supports a proposed $1 billion income-tax hike for additional school funding.
It’s the first time the governor has actively campaigned for two Democratic Senators facing recall elections next week for their support of gun control measures that Hickenlooper signed into law this summer. And the email did not include the names of either Morse of Giron.
Say, what demographic do you think the Republican Governors Association is trying to reach with this video of women lamenting the tax hikes of Democratic governors in Maryland, California, Connecticut, Illinois, and Washington?
During today’s Republican Governors Association press conference, RGA chair and Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell was asked whether he was encouraging GOP gubernatorial candidates to run against the president as they prepared for gubernatorial races in 2012.
“You broke the code,” McDonnell laughed. “Of course! When I ran in 2009, besides all the state issues, jobs, taxes and spending and so forth, I talked about how the people of Virginia did not want cap and trade and we did not want card-check. Big union issues, anti-coal issues that the president was pushing in Washington that were very bad for the commonwealth of Virginia. We ran commercials on it, I tied my opponent to President Obama on that, and people reacted that those were not good federal policies.”
“You first and foremost have to set a positive, uplifting, results-oriented vision for your state. That’s what people want. They’re so tired of the blame game here in Washington, and the negativity. This president has blamed Wall Street, he’s blamed Tea Party Republicans, he’s blamed House Republicans, George Bush. Last week he blamed the Founders for not giving him enough power. There’s a surplus of blame, and a deficit of results out of this president in Washington… So, what people want is the uplifting vision of what you can do for my state, but also, there is this president at the top of the ticket, and he will be on the ballot in every state. If he’s got policies that are bad for your state, the way card check and cap and trade were for my state, I can be virtually certain that our candidates running for governor in those states will be talking about those federal issues, and tying their Democratic opponents to those issues, and making them choose between the people of their state or the president’s policies.”
This morning the Republican Governors Association is chuckling over the newest sharp contrast between their chairman and the chairman of the Democratic Governors Association (and governor of a neighboring state).
Just days after Virginia governor Bob McDonnell announced a $544 million surplus, Maryland governor Martin O’Malley told county leaders Saturday that Maryland may need to increase taxes to solve a $1 billion budget gap next year.
What makes the contrast even more striking is the fact that McDonnell previously balanced an inherited $4.2 billion budget deficit that Gov. Tim Kaine had said could only be closed with a $2 billion tax increase, while O’Malley has already signed the largest tax increase in Maryland history during his first term.
Both states benefit from the hiring spree and rare layoffs in the federal government, but the unemployment rate in Virginia is 6.1 percent, while the unemployment rate in Maryland is 7.2 percent.
Kentucky is one of four states having a gubernatorial race this year, and the Republican Governors Association is already up on the air:
The Republican Governors Association launched a television advertisement today outlining how Kentucky’s economy has suffered over the past four years and highlighting David Williams’ plan to get Kentucky working again.
“While nearly every state has suffered during the economic downturn, few have fared worse than Kentucky,” said RGA spokesman Mike Schrimpf. “On Steve Beshear’s watch, unemployment has skyrocketed and Kentucky now has the worst unemployment rate in the region.”
“Kentucky can’t afford to continue trailing its neighboring states. It needs a leader like David Williams who will fight to put Kentuckians back to work,” Schrimpf said. “David Williams willsupport small business to create jobs and stand up to Obama’s job-killing policies.”
Fresh off announcing earlier this week that it had raised $22 million, the Republican Governors Association is chuckling this morning upon learning that its counterpart, the Democrat Governors Association, has raised $11 million.
The RGA also enjoys a similar (roughly) 2-to-1 advantage in cash on hand, $16.2 million to $8.6 million.
Particularly giggle-inducing was DGA chairman and Maryland governor Martin O’Malley’s declaration that the DGA is “leading the way.”
Mike Schrimpf, communications director of the RGA, jabs, “Only in the most creative of imaginations could the fact that Democrat governors are getting doubled up on the fundraising be a sign that they are ‘leading the way.’ Perhaps O’Malley’s over-the-top rhetoric can be attributed to concerns about his fundraising performance relative to leading GOP governors, or maybe it is a startled reaction caused by seeing Andrew Cuomo’s shadow looming behind him.”
The Republican Governors Association quickly and happily announces their fundraising for the quarter, and notes we haven’t heard from their Democratic counterparts yet:
The Republican Governors Association announced raising $22.1 million for the first half of the year, eclipsing the amount raised for the entire year in 2007, the last comparable election year. The RGA’s 2011 fundraising total also significantly outpaces that from 2008 and 2009.
“The RGA’s fundraising success was a true team effort and every Republican governor deserves to share in the credit. The RGA’s record breaking fundraising reflects our governors’ position as the leaders of our Party,” said RGA Chairman Rick Perry. “Republican governors are proving that the states are the most effective places from which to transform and save our country, and the RGA benefits from their leadership.”
The RGA has also retired all of the more than $3 million in debt it carried into the year and has $16.2 million cash on hand, twice the amount it had on June 30, 2007.
“The RGA has become the nation’s most impactful political organization and the most effective place to invest for those who believe limited government and free market solutions are the keys to solving our country’s challenges,” said RGA Vice Chairman Bob McDonnell. “In state after state, Republican governors are showing what it means to lead with the next generation in mind.”
In a way, this isn’t surprising; the political environment is much better for Republicans now than it was in spring 2007, and there are more Republican governors now than there were then: Bob McDonnell instead of Tim Kaine in Virginia, Bill Haslam instead of Phil Bredesen in Tennessee, Bobby Jindal instead of Kathleen Blanco in Louisiana, Suzanna Martinez instead of Bill Richardson in New Mexico, Jan Brewer instead of Janet Napolitano in Arizona, Mary Fallin instead of Brad Henry in Oklahoma, Terry Branstad instead of Tom Vilsack in Iowa, Tom Corbett instead of Ed Rendell in Pennsylvania, John Kasich instead of Ted Strickland in Ohio, Rick Snyder instead of Jennifer Granholm in Michigan, Scott Walker instead of Jim Doyle in Wisconsin, Sam Brownback instead of Kathleen Sebelius in Kansas, Paul LePage instead of John Baldacci in Maine, Chris Christie instead of Jon Corzine in New Jersey…
Two interesting bits of campaign hiring news, involving two men who played key roles in the GOP wins in the midterms:
First, a big hire for Tim Pawlenty: “Fox News has learned former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty will announce on Monday that his presidential exploratory committee has hired Nick Ayers on as campaign manager. The move puts Ayers in position to fill the role of campaign manager in the likely event that Pawlenty announces a full blown presidential campaign in the next month or two. Nick Ayers is the former Executive Director of the Republican Governors Association under the leadership of Miss. Gov Haley Barbour, who is also weighing a potential White House run.”
Secondly, one of the chief strategists for House Republicans during the midterms moves to an influential non-party group: “Former National Republican Congressional Committee Political Director Brian O. Walsh will be the new president of American Action Network. Starting today, he’ll head up a powerful outside group that spent $26 million on races last election cycle.”
Last October, I chatted with Brian Walsh about the NRCC’s strategic choices here.
The new top staffer at the RGA will be a key mind behind one of the most impressive Republican campaigns in recent memory:
Governor Rick Perry, Chair of the Republican Governors Association, announced today that Phil Cox will be the organization’s new Executive Director, effective today.
“Phil Cox has the talent and experience to continue the RGA’s growth as the most effective and impactful political committee in the country,” said RGA Chairman Rick Perry. “Phil’s experience as a successful campaign manager, senior advisor to a governor, and RGA political staffer gives him a unique perspective on the critical role RGA plays both in winning campaigns and supporting our governors in advancing good public policy.”
As one of RGA’s political staff, Cox spent 2010 helping orchestrate Republican gubernatorial victories in key battleground states like Pennsylvania and Florida. Prior to joining RGA, he served as campaign manager for Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, engineering an historic 18-point landslide victory. Following the victory, Cox served as McDonnell’s transition director and senior political advisor.
Republican Governors Association chairman Haley Barbour, governor of Mississippi, today issued the following statement:
“I called Rick Scott this morning and committed the full resources of the RGA to his election as governor of Florida. I encourage every Republican in Florida to unite behind the Scott campaign and put on their chin straps because the real battle has just begun. It is going to take all of us pulling together to win.
“As a former national party chairman, I know all too well that primaries are tough and can be costly, but they can also make us stronger. The voters of Florida took a close look at Rick Scott and believe he is the candidate who can best revive the state’s economy and put Florida back to work. Rick Scott’s profile as an outsider with years spent in the private sector creating jobs is the type of experience Florida voters are looking for.
“Alex Sink has failed to gain traction with the voters because her record as a banker and politician proves that she cannot be trusted to lead all of Florida. As she competes for Democratic votes with Bud Chiles, we look forward to Rick Scott making the case that he is the clear choice for governor.”