Assessing the New Governors, Part 1

The nation's new governors are just like newlyweds: Their honeymoons have only been lasting a few days. Many of the 11 new state executives have already ...
by | March 14, 2007

The nation's new governors are just like newlyweds: Their honeymoons have only been lasting a few days. Many of the 11 new state executives have already squandered much of the political capital from their election victories through gaffes and controversies.

I've assessed* the new governors (on their political skill and success to date, not on whether I agree with their policy proposals). Here's the first four, with the others to appear tomorrow and Friday. 

Alaska's Sarah Palin (Rep): Palin skillfully navigated a controversy over court-ordered same-sex benefits for public employees. She declined to force a confrontation with the court, but allayed anger over the order by scheduling an advisory referendum on the subject for April. Her big test, however, will be how she handles the number one issue in the state: the construction of a new natural gas pipeline.

Arkansas' Mike Beebe (Dem): Beebe won one victory when the legislature agreed to a grocery tax cut and he appears headed toward another as lawmakers heed his call to split the Department of Health and Human Services into two. He also made a smart move by returning early from a National Governors Association conference to cope with the aftermath of tornados. 

Colorado's Bill Ritter (Dem): When a generally friendly newspaper is detailing the differences between candidate Ritter and Governor Ritter, you know it's bad news. The most baffling thing is Ritter's explanation for vetoing pro-union legislation he supported on the campaign trail: the debate was too mean . Now the veto has extended that unpleasant debate and turned it into a national controversy .

Florida's Charlie Crist (Rep): Talk about a roller coaster ride: Crist cancelled an inaugural ball after being criticized for seeking millions of dollars in donations from interest groups. Plus, he's facing explosive charges of corruption as attorney general. However, the governor got an important victory on insurance reform and has won rave reviews from Democrats for addressing global warming and voter machine paper trails (and for not being Jeb Bush). Two huge issues loom: property taxes and a gloomier budget picture.

*By the way, if you're wondering why they're aren't actual grades attached to these assessments, well, we decided to give these new governors a break. Even schoolkids get a full semester!

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

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