Hope for Spitzer and O'Malley

Lou Jacobson has a column at Stateline.org about the political comebacks of two governors, Alabama's Bob Riley and California's Arnold Schwarzenegger. To me, the ...
by | January 31, 2008

Lou Jacobson has a column at Stateline.org about the political comebacks of two governors, Alabama's Bob Riley and California's Arnold Schwarzenegger. To me, the lesson is that two new governors, Maryland's Martin O'Malley and New York's Eliot Spitzer, shouldn't despair.

Here's what Jacobson has to say about Riley:

After Alabamians in 2003 voted down a $1.2 billion tax hike proposed by Riley in his first year in office, he seemed like a dead man walking. Riley's own state GOP had fought the tax hike. National anti-tax advocates made the tax plan - and Riley himself - public enemy No. 1.

Today, O'Malley's approval ratings are mired in the thirties because he just signed a $1.4 billion tax increase. Riley was reelected easily last year. Whether O'Malley will have a tougher time recovering, since his tax increase actually passed, is open to debate.

As for Schwarzenegger, his problems had a lot to do with his my-way-or-the-highway style and his disagreements with the Democratic legislature ("girly men," etc.). Spitzer and the Republican Senate President, Joe Bruno, have feuded to the point that the Albany Times Union has a helpful "Spitzer vs. Bruno" section on their Web site.

Spitzer actually may have an easier time making a comeback than Schwarzenegger did. There's a decent chance that the Democrats will win the New York Senate this year for the first time since 1974, which would alleviate many of Spitzer's problems.

My bigger question is whether anything (short of indictment) that happens in an executive's first year in office matters much for their long-term political prospects. Voters may not be forgiving, but they sure seem forgetful.

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

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