May 31, 2010

60-40 NATION:

GOP upbeat about gubernatorial prospects, Midwest (LIZ SIDOTI, 5/31/10, AP)

With a fundraising advantage, a favorable political landscape and victories in New Jersey and Virginia last fall, Republicans are aiming for the GOP to emerge from November controlling at least 30 states. They argue that it would make it hard for Obama to win re-election.

Delaware Gov. Jack Markell, the chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, suggests the GOP's take has some merit, saying in a recent fundraising solicitation: "We must stop the GOP from winning 30 governors' seats, and in turn, stop them from defeating President Obama and taking away our Democratic majorities."

Controlling 26 states to the GOP's 24, Democrats are on defense.

They're operating in a difficult environment — an economic recession that's forced governors to cut services or raise taxes or both — to make up budget shortfalls. And traditionally the party that controls both the White House and Congress loses seats. Issues like immigration also could affect the outcome.

Democrats privately say they likely will lose states; Republicans are virtually assured of winning Democratic-held open seats in Kansas, Tennessee, Oklahoma and Wyoming. And polls show Iowa Gov. Chet Culver in such serious trouble that he's widely expected to lose to former Gov. Terry Branstad, favored in the GOP primary.

Republicans have mounted similarly strong challenges to other Democrats across the Midwest and the Great Lakes — and Democrats acknowledge that states in that region will be among the toughest to win given that they have suffered the brunt of the recession.

Many Democrats doubt they'll hold onto auto-dependant Michigan, which has the nation's highest unemployment rate at 14 percent in April.

And they have their work cut out for them in: Ohio, where Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland faces former GOP Rep. John Kasich; Pennsylvania, where Democrat Dan Onorato, the Allegheny County chief executive, faces GOP Attorney General Tom Corbett to succeed the outgoing Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell; and Wisconsin, where Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle is retiring. Milwaukee's Democratic mayor, Tom Barrett, will run against whoever emerges from a crowded GOP primary in September.

Republicans also are making a play for the scandal-scarred but Democratic-leaning Illinois but they say it will be hard for Republican state Sen. Bill Brady to win even though Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn was the deputy of disgraced former Gov. Rod Blagojevich. And the GOP is trying to beat back Democratic efforts to win in Minnesota, where Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty is leaving office presumably to run for president.

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 31, 2010 7:34 AM
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