Wednesday, November 20, 2013

... We Are Just Getting Warmed Up

The 2013 elections just ended (well, we still have two AG candidates moving forward with transition teams in Virginia), but as the title implies ... We Are Just Getting Warmed Up - for 2014 that is. If people (including me) can start looking at Governor Christie's chances for 2016, then certainly it is not too early to look at 2014 and its 34 governors races.  Candidates are already lining up in a few widely anticipated open seats, and several incumbents are facing strong challengers.  I pulled together a Top 10 (and it was difficult to pick only 10) Races To Watch List of those I think will be the most interesting.

The MOB Advocacy Top 10 Races to Watch...

Arizona (Open Seat) - Democrat Fred Duval, a Washington and Arizona insider, will have a difficult race against who ever comes out of the Republican primary.  Arizona is one of those states where Democrats are hoping to flip from red to blue.

Colorado (Incumbent Governor John Hickenlooper running) - Earlier this year, Colorado saw a number of legislators targeted in a recall effort after a strict gun law was enacted.  Will that sentiment hurt Governor John Hickenlooper in 2014? Colorado has been blue the last few elections, but Republicans point to the successful recall movement and the defeat of the ballot measure to increase taxes as a sign that Colorado is moving back to red.  Former Congressman (and '08 Republican presidential candidate) Tom Tancredo is among the list of credible candidates.

Florida (Incumbent Governor Rick Scott running) - Former Republican Governor Charlie Crist (2006-2010) will face off against current Republican Governor Rick Scott, in what could be the ugliest and most expensive race in 2014.  Governor Scott is among the most vulnerable incumbents, but Crist (if he comes out of the Democratic primary) will be running for his third party in four years.  He started his unsuccessful Senate as a Republican before deciding to run as an Independent and is now running as a Democrat.

Illinois (Incumbent Governor Pat Quinn running) - Governor Pat Quinn probably could not have survived a Democratic primary, so he got lucky when Attorney General Lisa Madigan decided not to challenge the sitting governor.  It will be interesting to watch if any of the Republican candidates start to gain momentum in what could be a winnable race for a credible candidate.

Massachusetts (Open Seat) - There is a crowded Democratic field led by current favorite, Martha Coakley.  Keep an eye on Juliette Kayyem, who has great experience and a story that can really connect with voters.  I think she can surprise people, much like Governor Patrick surprised a lot of Massachusetts insiders eight years ago.  Many Republicans were hoping for former-Senator Scott Brown, but instead will probably get 2010 nominee Charlie Baker, who will have a tough time in a very blue state.

Maryland (Open Seat) - The big race is the Democratic primary, where Lt. Governor Michael Brown faces Attorney General Doug Gansler.  State Delagate Heather Mizeur should be a distant also ran against these two big names.  The primary will probably be much more interesting than the general, but we will see who comes out of a very crowded Republican field.  I am watching former Marine and business leader Charles Lollar.  He might be able to make the general a competitive race.

Pennsylvania - (Incumbent Governor Tom Corbett running) - Governor Tom Corbett is one of the four Republican governors the Cook Political Report is listing as a toss-up.  Former Rep. Allyson Schwartz and Katie McGinty, a former secretary of the Dept. of Environmental Protection under Governor Ed Rendell, are among the many Democrats looking to take on Governor Corbett.

South Carolina (Incumbent Governor Nikki Haley running) -  It looks like a rematch of 2010, with Governor Nikki Haley once again facing former State Senator Vince Sheheen.  Governor Haley is not the most popular governor, but is probably safe in a very red state.  I think South Carolina voters are going to be left hoping they could vote for "None of the Above."

Texas (Open Seat) - The Texas governor seat the most anticipated open seat race of the year.  Democrat Wendy Davis is on a meteoric rise, and will raise a lot of money around the country.  There is an interesting mix running for the Republican nomination.  Depending on the candidate, The Republican primary winner SHOULD prevail in November - but it could be close.

Wisconsin (Incumbent Governor Scott Walker running) - Governor Scott Walker will be running for his second term, though thanks to the 2012 recall election he is running for Governor for the third time.   His numbers are better, but the Governor is still potentially vulnerable.  Businesswoman Mary Burke is emerging as a top Democratic candidate with a compelling story of helping grow a small family business (Trek Bicycles) into an international market leader.

The Best of the Rest...
  • Connecticut - Governor Dan Malloy (D) is vulnerable, and the Nutmeg State has shown its willingness to elect Republican governors in the past.  However, I think Governor Malloy will be in a safer position next November than he is now.  A lot depends on who is the Republican nominee.
  • Maine - Democrats are out to prove that Governor Paul LePage's win in 2010 was a fluke.  They have have a strong candidate in popular Congressman, Mike Michaud.
  • Minnesota - Former State House Speaker Kurt Zellers is among the handful of Republicans that could defeat Governor Mark Dayton next November.
  • Ohio - I would have put this race in my top ten, but Governor John Kasich's (R) numbers are looking a little better.  I think the bigger fight will be whether or not Medicaid gets expanded.  The Legislature had attempted to block any expansion, but last month Governor Kasich announced he was going outside of the Legislature to expand Medicaid.  Let the court battles begin.
  • Rhode Island - Another that was difficult to keep of the top ten.  With Governor Lincoln Chaffee announcing he will not run again, it is anyone's race.  I'll will reserve judgement until I see who comes out of the primaries.
I said it last year, but I will say it again... 2014 looks like it will be a very interesting year for state and local politics.  Keep an eye out later this year, as MOB Advocacy will be sponsoring an Election Day contest to see which of our readers can call the most Governors races.

About Michael O'Brien...

Michael O'Brien is the founder and principal of MOB Advocacy. He has more than ten years experience as a state and local lobbyist. Michael has lobbied governors, mayors, legislators, state and local agencies and regulators in more than 40 states.

Before starting MOB Advocacy, Michael was the the national state and local government affairs department for RISE (Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment). Prior to RISE, Michael launched Molina Healthcare's political and grassroots advocacy programs, created strong public-private partnerships as director of The Washington Center, and developed a federal, state and grassroots advocacy program for The National Conference for Community and Justice.

About MOB Advocacy...

MOB Advocacy is a full-service, multi-state government relations firm located in Fairfax City, Virginia. Founded in 2012, MOB Advocacy has quickly become a recognized leader in state and local government relations.

MOB Advocacy's clients range from established corporations, tech start-ups, nationally recognized non-profit and advocacy groups. Our clients chose us because MOB Advocacy offers the full range of solutions of a large government relations firm with the personal service of a boutique firm. Mob Advocacy helps its clients to navigate the complex world of state and local legislative and regulatory affairs, procurement bureaucracy and appropriations processes to achieve their organizational goals.