Josh Goodman is a former staff writer for GOVERNING..E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Here's part four of my gubernatorial race ratings. The English majors out there will note that if I had been going in proper alphabetic order then Nevada would have been in my previous post. In my defense, it's been more than 20 years since I've been in kindergarten, so how I am supposed to remember that 'v' comes before 'w?'
Nevada -- Leans Republican: There's a theory that Nevada is one of the most difficult states in the country to poll because of the odd hours many of its residents work at casinos. That theory is one of the few reasons for optimism for Harry and Rory Reid, the unpopular father-son Democratic duo running for Senate and governor. For Rory, another reason for optimism is the small-but-not-negligible possibility that Gov. Jim Gibbons will once again be the Republican nominee.
New York -- Very Likely Democratic: The drop in Andrew Cuomo's approval rating to 54% in a recent poll shouldn't be treated as anything more than an ephemeral setback for the attorney general, linked to his investigation of Gov. David Paterson -- or perhaps it's just an outlier. Still, it's a good reminder that New Yorkers opinions of Cuomo aren't that firm and that they don't actually know a whole lot about what he would do as governor. Republicans could have an opening, but they'd need a candidate with money and charisma to take advantage.
Ohio -- Toss Up: It's fair to say that increasing broad-based taxes generally is unpopular (though sometimes it's more popular than cutting well-liked programs). But, just because raising taxes normally is a political loser, that doesn't necessarily mean that cutting taxes is a political winner. You can see that in Ohio. John Kasich, the Republican candidate, wants to eliminate the state income tax, but he's muddled his message a little bit by distancing himself from legislation that would do that over ten years. The episode reflects one of the dangers of proposing big tax cuts: The media will pounce, demanding (not unreasonably) to know how the candidate will balance the budget.
Oklahoma -- Likely Republican: Given how quickly Oklahoma has turned against Democrats, I've been curious to see how outgoing Democratic Gov. Brad Henry's numbers are holding up. The answer is quite well. Rasmussen gave him a 64% approval rating recently. The question is whether Henry's popularity is transferable. Could either of the Democrats running for governor, Lt. Gov. Jari Askins and Attorney General Drew Edmondson, run as a third Henry term?
Oregon -- Likely Democratic: If there is any doubt that Chris Dudley, a former player for the NBA's Portland Trailblazers, is a real contender for the Republican nomination, consider the campaign team he has assembled. Among the names: Steve Schmid t, who managed John McCain's presidential campaign in 2008. Dudley also has raised the most money on the G.O.P. side.
Pennsylvania -- Likely Republican: Many political pros treat contested primaries as though they're always a bad thing -- that having anointed nominees works best. But, I find that view far too simplistic. In the Pennsylvania governor's race this year, Democrats have what I would consider the classic good primary (assuming it doesn't get too nasty). Their candidates aren't well-known, so the primary will help the winner get his name out. It's not at all clear who would be the strongest general election candidate. So, what better way to figure that out than a primary?
Rhode Island -- Toss Up: If you thought bailouts for banks and auto companies were unpopular, how about bailouts for casinos? That's what Rhode Island's political world has to consider. The Twin River casino is in default and its owners are threatening to shutdown if they don't get a variety of concessions from the state, including perhaps $10 million. While the casino's slots bring in far more than $10 million per year for the state, the politics of the matter appear pretty poisonous. State Treasurer Frank Caprio, the leading Democratic candidate for governor, is playing opposition to the bailout for all it is worth.
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