Alan Greenblatt is a GOVERNING correspondent.E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Think back to 2002. States then were complaining about the worst fiscal situation since World War II. It was hardly a coincidence that a record crop of new governors was elected that year -- two dozen of them.
Some of the turnover was due to term limits, but the reason that all but five of those two dozen took the reins from a goverrnor of another party had more to do with the fact that voters were angry about the nearly universal problem of billion-dollar deficits.
At the time, there was a good deal of commentary about how it was a lousy time to become a governor, that the fiscal problems would overwhelm any agenda a leader might wish to pursue.
I see in an old story that I quoted Larry Sabato, of all people, as saying, "Never has a large class of new governors been elected under worse conditions since the Great Depression. It's asking too much for them to undertake major projects and programs with these kinds of economic conditions. If they can just manage to get the budgets to balance they're doing well."
And it's true that the Class of 2002 governors have been, on the whole, less ambitious policymakers than many of the governors that they replaced.
But just in terms of politics, they had perfect timing. They came in when times were bad, and things got much better on their watch. Now it's hard to find a governor who's in any real political danger. Some will lose, but it will be nothing like the changing of the guard that happened four years ago.
And that, for them, is good news on top of the healthy budget picture.
Written and compiled by staff writers and editors, GOVERNING View is an on-the-ground, and sometimes behind-the-scenes, look at the topics we're covering in print and online. From notes on what's up in statehouses, county courthouses and city halls, to encounters with people, places and things, GOVERNING View is a window into the side of state and local government you don't always see.