50 States, 50 Stories

posted Josh Goodman In the spirit of celebrating the United STATES of America, here's a question or comment on politics for every state in the ...
by | July 4, 2008

posted Josh Goodman

In the spirit of celebrating the United STATES of America, here's a question or comment on politics for every state in the Union:

Alabama: Gov. Bob Riley has made no secret of his desire for a Republican takeover of the legislature in 2010. The community college scandal may give him the opening he needs.

Alaska: Democrats really believe they'll be able to bring the state Senate to a 10-10 tie this year, in this traditionally Republican state.

Arizona: Janet Napolitano has proven herself to be a resilient, politically skilled governor, but the state's current fiscal problems are probably her biggest challenge.

Arkansas: Arkansas is home to two fascinating ballot measures this year, one on immigration and one on gay foster parenting.

California: Barack Obama's opposition to the gay marriage ban should at least have a modest impact, but the smart money still says this one could go either way.

Colorado: In 2005, Colorado endured a blockbuster battle over its Taxpayer's Bill of Rights. We'll see if the state is ready for the sequel.

Connecticut: With no hope of winning Republican majorities in the legislature, Gov. Jodi Rell is openly pondering not seeking another term in 2010.

Delaware: Even if he doesn't win, Bill Lee's decision to run for governor at least gives Republicans a reason to show up at the polls, which could help preserve their narrow edge in the House of Representatives.

Florida: The Everglades purchase (timed perfectly to counteract the offshore drilling story) is proof that you should never underestimate Gov. Charlie Crist.

Georgia: Georgia was one of the few states the Democratic wave missed in 2006. This year, Democrats are at least hoping to cut into the Republican advantage in the legislature, with Obama driving black turnout from the top of the ticket.

Hawaii: Republican Gov. Linda Lingle's two winning campaigns are amazing when you remember that Democrats have 65 of the 76 seats in the legislature.

Idaho: If Jim Risch is elected to the U.S. Senate as expected this year, he will have served as lieutenant governor, governor, lieutenant governor again, and senator in a span of less than three years.

Illinois: Will Gov. Rod Blagojevich cause any long-term damage to the Democratic Party's standing in Illinois? The state Republican Party still seems pretty lifeless.

Indiana: Mitch Daniels is one of the most endangered governors in the country (there's not much competition for the title), but I have to think that the Democratic majority in the House of Representatives is in quite a bit more trouble than he is.

Iowa: Will the floods have political implications? Des Moines Register columnist David Yepsen says they'll help incumbents and, therefore, help Democrats, who control the governorship and both houses of the legislature.

Kansas: That Gov. Kathleen Sebelius has won the coal plant fight so far is a minor miracle, but I don't expect the battle to end anytime soon.

Kentucky: I've always thought that it's a blessing for a governor to start his first term with a big budget shortfall -- it gives the governor a problem to solve. With Kentucky $900 million in the hole, I wouldn't dare suggest that idea to Gov. Steve Beshear right now.

Louisiana: The whole legislative pay raise debacle is a setback for Gov. Bobby Jindal, but don't expect it to affect him long-term -- just look how Ed Rendell bounced back from a similar situation. Some legislators probably won't be so lucky.

Maine: The Democrats have a scant 18-17 edge in the Senate and four members of their caucus can't run again because of term limits.

Maryland: Polling indicates that the ballot measure on slots is likely to pass, which would give Gov. Martin O'Malley a boost.

Massachusetts: Republicans haven't had any luck making inroads in the legislature, but, this year, with a Democratic governor finally in office (and suffering some ups and downs), maybe they can finally gain a few seats.

Michigan: Could anyone have a succeeded as governor of Michigan over the past six years, given the economic climate? Gov. Jennifer Granholm is known for her positive outlook, but I bet that question has occurred to her at some point or another.

Minnesota: Everyone is waiting to see whether current Gov. Tim Pawlenty will be McCain's running mate and whether former Gov. Jesse Ventura will run for the U.S. Senate.

Mississippi: It seems like Mississippi lawmakers have been arguing about raising the cigarette tax since before Joe Camel was born. They're still at it.

Missouri: Will Gov. Matt Blunt have a second act in politics? He'll leave office in January at the age of 38. He's disliked, but not despised, so a comeback isn't out of the question.

Montana: Democrats have a 26-24 edge in the Senate, while Republicans are ahead 50-49 in the House (with one independent). That should make for an exciting November.

Nebraska: Gov. Dave Heineman seems to spend as little time on national politics as any governor in the country. That's a compliment, by the way.

Nevada: When your messy, public divorce is the least of your problems, you know you're in trouble. That's life for Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons.

New Hampshire: Democrats won historic gains in the New Hampshire legislature, so they've got to give some of that back this year, right?

New Jersey: What does Gov. Jon Corzine really need to get his mojo back? A time machine, so that he could convince lawmakers in the 1990s not to approve the pension giveaways that have tied his hands now that the state budget situation has become bleaker.

New Mexico: Gov. Bill Richardson could be a valuable surrogate for Obama in heavily Hispanic areas, but at some point the people of New Mexico might get irritated at the time he spends out of state.

New York: With Majority Leader Joe Bruno's retirement, the only thing that may be able to save the Republicans' Senate edge is Michael Bloomberg's millions.

North Carolina: Obama is keeping it close in North Carolina, so why isn't there any buzz for former Gov. Jim Hunt or outgoing Gov. Mike Easley (both Democrats) in the veepstakes?

North Dakota: Could the Democrats really take the North Dakota Senate? Barack Obama seems to think the state is turning purple.

Ohio: Republicans are having a hard time finding a candidate to run for attorney general this year, after Marc Dann's resignation gave them a golden opportunity.

Oklahoma: Brad Henry has to be America's luckiest governor. He won by a few thousand votes in 2002, then reaped the benefits of high gas prices, which, in Oklahoma, are a good thing.

Oregon: As always, Oregon will have some interesting initiatives on the ballot, including one to curtail English-as-a-second-language classes in schools.

Pennsylvania: Am I the only one suffering from Rendell deprivation now that Hillary Clinton's most quotable surrogate isn't in the public eye as much?

Rhode Island: Rhode Island's budget problems are requiring major cuts, but for Gov. Don Carcieri, a surprisingly ideological Republican in a Democratic state, that comes naturally.

South Carolina: Republican Gov. Mark Sanford's campaign to fill the legislature with loyalists is winning some successes, but he probably won't achieve the transformation he's looking for before he's termed out in 2010. 

South Dakota: For the second time in three years, an abortion ban on the ballot is likely to dominate debate. This version has more exceptions (rape, incest and the health and life of the mother), making it likely to pass and set up a challenge to Roe v. Wade.

Tennessee: Why does Phil Bredesen, a popular governor of a fairly large state, get no vice-presidential buzz?

Texas: One question that will tell you whether it was another wave election: Did the Democrats take the Texas House?

Utah: The question is not whether Gov. Jon Huntsman will win another term (he will), but whether he'll serve it. He and McCain are close and Huntsman is making no promises to stay for all four years.

Vermont: If I were an eccentric billionaire, I'd commission a poll in the Vermont gubernatorial race because I don't have a good sense of whether House Speaker Gaye Symington has a chance against Republican Gov. Jim Douglas.

Virginia: Gov. Tim Kaine's legacy may hinge on getting a transportation-funding package approved. How he cajoles House Republicans is anyone's guess.

Washington: Does the Sonics' decision to leave hurt Gov. Christine Gregoire's reelection bid or does she get credit for not using public money on a new arena (which most people in Seattle oppose)?

West Virginia: I mentioned this the other day, but it really intrigues me: How hard will Gov. Joe Manchin work to persuade reluctant West Virginia voters to embrace Obama in a year when the governor himself is up for reelection?

Wisconsin: Both houses of the legislature are in play. In the House, Republicans have a 52-47 advantage and in the Senate the Democrats are up 18-15.

Wyoming: If Gov. Dave Freudenthal gives a speech at the Democratic National Convention, I'll be interested in seeing it. He might be the most conservative person to appear at the podium in Denver.

Josh Goodman
Josh Goodman  |  Former Staff Writer
mailbox@governing.com  | 

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