The Real Loser in Chicago's Mayoral Election

On Tuesday, Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel failed to win the majority he needed for reelection. He received just 45.4 percent of the vote -- a far cry from the 55.2 percent he gathered in 2011. He now heads into an April runoff against Cook County commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia. “Not even I, an avid follower of Chicago politics, knew who Chuy Garcia was when he announced his candidacy a few months ago,” wrote Politico’s Carol Felsenthal. National observers might wonder: How did this happen?

From the outside, Emanuel appeared to have a strong first term. Even as Chicago’s murder rate soared, national press coverage of the city and its mayor has been mostly positive. The Financial Times dubbed Emanuel Mayor America. Thomas Friedman wrote a glowing column about Emanuel’s agenda in the New York Times. The Brookings Institution hosted him in Washington for a discussion with David Brooks. Emanuel’s Chicago has regularly been cited for innovation in the use of technology and data in government. READ MORE

The Evolving Politics of Climate Change

There's growing evidence that the nature of our contentious debate about climate change in America is shifting. An overwhelming majority of the American public -- including 51 percent of Republicans as well as 91 percent of Democrats -- now supports government action to curb global warming, according to a January poll by The New York Times, Stanford University and Resources for the Future, a nonpartisan environmental research group.

What type of government action the public will support on climate change, of course, needs to be sorted out. Certainly there's reason to believe that such actions will have significant regional differences. States and local governments on the coasts have garnered the majority of media attention, but in Utah there's an interesting climate-action story playing out in Salt Lake City. READ MORE

The Critical Interdependence of Our Infrastructure

Challenges to building and maintaining infrastructure vary greatly across our regions. The ongoing drought in California poses a markedly different problem compared to record-setting downpours and flooding in other states. But within regions, there is a different imperative: Given the interdependencies among transportation, water, energy and waste systems, it makes a great deal of sense to formulate planning regionally.

Whether across or within regions, however, one thing doesn't vary: Residents expect government leaders to keep their communities' infrastructure systems operating, and this entails spending a lot of money. In the Pacific Coast region alone, the West Coast Infrastructure Exchange estimates the need to be greater than $1 trillion over the next 30 years. READ MORE

10 Things I've Learned from Covering State Politics

A little over 10 years ago, I began writing a column on state politics. It wasn’t a new pursuit; I’d covered state politics here and there as a reporter for National Journal and for political analyst Charlie Cook. But starting a regular column -- initially weekly, then every other week -- was still a leap for me. Now that I’ve been writing the column for a while, though, I've learned a few things.

Indulge me, but I've pulled together a list of 10 things I've discovered while doing it. In time for the New Year, here they are: READ MORE

The Common Threads that Underlie Our Infrastructure Debate

There's no shortage of discussion about the principal infrastructure issues facing communities across the country. Concerns such as aging roads, bridges, water system and other public works, constrained local and state government budgets, and diminishing federal funding generally make it to the top of most lists on the subject. Regional and local differences -- ranging from age of infrastructure to financial resources to regulations, environmental conditions and leadership -- produce large variations in how these subjects manifest themselves in any given place.

Over the past year Governing conducted a series of five editorial roundtables around the country to better understand these regional differences and solicit perceptions and opinions of government leaders engaged in with these issues. Public-sector participants included elected, appointed and career leaders in Cincinnati, New Orleans, New York City, Philadelphia and San Diego. READ MORE