Luv from the Guv: The Republicans

Think that gubernatorial endorsements will make or break next year's presidential primaries? Consider that, far from winning his party's nomination, the candidate who Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack endorsed last November was the first to drop out.
by | July 17, 2007

Think that gubernatorial endorsements will make or break next year's presidential primaries? Consider that, far from winning his party's nomination, the candidate who Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack endorsed last November was the first to drop out.

Especially in a primary, the support of a popular sitting governor can't hurt. But because presidential nominations are typically decided after only a few states have voted, many governors, like their constituents, are left on the sidelines.

Even in those precious few states, endorsements don't always mean much. Michigan Governor John Engler's advocacy for Bush over McCain in 2000 achieved nothing -- except a bit of embarrassment for Engler.

So why am I about to tell you about the presidential preferences of every governor?

Because you can learn a lot about a governor from his or her endorsement decisions.

For example, Charlie Crist's rumored support for McCain makes a lot of sense. Crist wants to be McCain (circa 2000): the straight-talking maverick media darling. Whether he follows through with an endorsement, despite the Arizona senator's troubled campaign, will say a lot about his willingness to take risks.

Here's what I've gleaned (from other press reports) on the endorsement decisions of the nation's 22 Republican governors. Tomorrow: the Democrats.

Alabama's Bob Riley: Friends with McCain, but has praised Romney.

Alaska's Sarah Palin: ?

California's Arnold Schwarzenegger: He's closest to McCain, but has met with Romney and Giuliani too. Would he consider Bloomberg?

Connecticut's Jodi Rell: Wants the nominee to be a "moderate."

Florida's Charlie Crist: He's raised money for McCain, who is thought to be his favored candidate.

Georgia's Sonny Perdue: Meeting with all the candidates and thought to be interested in the vice presidency.

Hawaii's Linda Lingle: ?

Idaho's Butch Otter: Has attended some events for Romney, who most top Idaho Republicans support, but also mentioned interest in Tommy Thompson.

Indiana's Mitch Daniels: Endorsed McCain, citing his support for fiscal discipline.

Kentucky's Ernie Fletcher: May not be governor by 2008.

Minnesota's Tim Pawlenty: Endorsed McCain, a decision he may regret if passed over for vice president by Giuliani, Romney or Fred Thompson.

Mississippi's Haley Barbour: Was once thought to be supporting McCain, but says he's waiting to make a decision.

Missouri's Matt Blunt: Endorsed Romney, saying his "strong conservative principles are right for America."

Nebraska's Dave Heineman: Will support Chuck Hagel if he runs; Hagel backed Heineman in last year's gubernatorial primary.

Nevada's Jim Gibbons: Not close with McCain. Romney, who is most active in the state, is one possibility.

North Dakota's John Hoeven: Was one of only five governors to attend Mike Huckabee's 5K run at an NGA meeting last year. That's all I know.

Rhode Island's Don Carcieri: Endorsed Romney, who "erased a deficit and provided health care without raising taxes."

South Carolina's Mark Sanford: Endorsed McCain in 2000, but not yet this time. Calls Fred Thompson "an old friend." Romney is wooing him too.

South Dakota's Mike Rounds: Endorsed Huckabee and has written to other governors encouraging them to support him too.

Texas's Rick Perry: Everyone is wooing him, Fred Thompson is strong in Texas.

Utah's Jon Huntsman: Endorsed McCain, a perceived slight of favorite son Romney.

Vermont's Jim Douglas: ?

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

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