Alan Greenblatt is a GOVERNING correspondent.E-mail: email@example.com
The nation currently has three "accidental governors." Each came to power because of a vacancy. Each inherited a big budget mess. Now all of them are calling for major tax hikes that in turn threaten their chances of winning election outright.
Pat Quinn of Illinois wants to increase income taxes by 50 percent. David Paterson of New York wants to raise $4 billion through increases of a hundred different taxes and fees on "everything save Tab and record albums," as one blogger put it.
They're both Democrats. But Jan Brewer, the Arizona Republican who succeeded Democrat Janet Napolitano, has surprised everyone by calling for a special election to raise taxes.
It's possible that these moves will be seen as sensible and inevitable, given the size of the shortfalls. "My personal experience is that she's opposed every tax increase that's ever been around," says former Arizona state Senator Robert Blendu, a Brewer ally. "For her to put that on the table indicates the magnitude of the problem."
But it's also possible that raising taxes by large amounts during a recession will leave them unpopular and vulnerable as they prepare to face voters in 2010. "That's the first thing and maybe they only thing they'll remember about you when they vote," says Paul Green, a political scientist at Roosevelt University in Chicago.
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