GOP Eyes Statehouses for Comeback

By Beacon Staff

Republican candidates for governor met up in Sun Valley, Idaho this past weekend to draw up a strategy to win as many as 37 governors’ seats up for grabs in 2010. While I found an article in last week’s Wall Street Journal previewing the event, a quick search turned up no stories on what actually happened at the event. Such prominent Republicans as former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Michigan Gov. John Engler and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush were scheduled to speak.

The conference was organized by the Republican Governors Association and the story quotes Republican strategists as saying they think their party’s comeback comeback could start at the state level, focusing more on local issues, than a federal comeback right now. Democrats quoted state flatly that the only reason Republicans are looking so closely at governors’ races is because they don’t have a chance of making much of a dent in the vast Democratic majorities in the House and Senate. From the piece:

Already the Republican group sees hope in this year’s governor’s races in New Jersey and Virginia, where GOP candidates lead in polls. Mr. Barbour said the party could slingshot into 2010 with big victories in those races — similar to the way wins in those same states in 1993 set the stage for the dramatic Republican success in 1994.

Republicans have a “great opportunity” to see the U.S. political pendulum “swing back with the 2010 election,” said U.S. Rep. Mary Fallin, who is running for governor in Oklahoma.

Nathan Daschle, executive director of the Democratic Governors Association, said it was “simplistic” to compare 2010 to 1994. He said Republicans were focused on gubernatorial races because of their slim prospects of chipping away significantly at Democratic majorities in Congress.

He added that the Republican slate of candidates features many faces of a past generation. “This is not a reflection of a youthful and vibrant Republican party,” he said.

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