The Republican Governors Association just completed a conference call with South Carolina governor Mark Sanford and Mississippi governor Haley Barbour, addressing a variety of topics. I asked the two governors about what they see developing in the two nearest gubernatorial contests, in New Jersey and Virginia.
Governor Barbour: We’re ahead in New Jersey. It is early but that’s encouraging, and we’re very competitive in Virginia. One thing these races have in common is that we’re seeing extraordinary energy. Our people are cranked up, and we have very high-quality candidates. You see it at grass roots and party leadership.
Governor Sanford: Going back to yesterday’s events and these tea parties — you look back at early 1990s, New Jersey and Virginia were the first to break after Clinton had overplayed his hand. There seem to be a lot of parallels to that period, and these races may be a bellwether, indicating a reaction to some of what has happened at the administrative level.
Barbour: Just like we saw with George Allen and Christie Whitman [in 1993], these races are going to turn on policy. Florio was a huge tax raiser that cost his state jobs; our guys are going to be running on lower taxes, lower costs, cheaper energy – we’re pro-jobs, they’re pro-union. It’s great to have very good candidates in high-energy races, but policy also plays well for us.