Arthur Christopher Schaper
In 2014, Republican Governors are staving off attacks in their respective contests. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and Michigan’s Rick Snyder are breaking away from their Democratic opponents, despite a few months of setbacks, with middling poll numbers. Other Republican Governors are struggling, or have become political dead meat. Kansas Governor Sam Brownback enshrined comprehensive tax and spending cuts. He also tried to get rid of public funding for the arts, and attempted to put private special needs providers in charge of disabled adults. Kansas Republicans as well Democrats have cried foul. In a state which has been ruby red for decades, a blue governor and a liberal independent may sweep state offices for the first time in years.
Other governors who are struggling for reelection include Nathan Deal of Georgia, where allegations of cronyism and corruption have marred his campaign. He has maintained a mere one point lead over President Jimmy Carter’s grandson. Like Brownback, Governor Deal partnered with a ruby red legislature, and enacted extensive conservative reforms, including expanded concealed carry permits, as well as direct legislation repudiating the Affordable Care Act. Have Georgians gotten tired of conservative principles? Do they believe that Deal has gone too far?
The deeper ideological divides in the several states stem from the unprecedented number of legislatures where the Governor and the majority belonged to the same party. A laboratory of conservative reforms have emerged in Republican states, and progressive activism (or epic stagnation) now defines the super-majority Democratic states.
Based on consistent polling, voters in red states may be souring on their conservative leaders uninhibited reforms, and those politicians are paying the price for their political boldness.
Could the same be happening in one-party Democratic states?
California, one of the super-majority blue states, had a moderate governor, old retread Jerry Brown. Yes, he balanced the state’s budget, but only on paper, and the wall of pension debt lingers like the fiscal sword of Damocles over the entire state. Four state senators have been arrested, indicted, and/or convicted of corruption. Brown has turned California into a sanctuary state for illegal immigration. The legislature passed laws to allow transgender youth to use public school bathrooms, and let owners take their dogs out for dinner, and banned the plastic bag. Brown reelection is assured.
Illinois has the worst bond ratings, pension liabilities, and crime rates. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel has combined brass-knuckles politicking with progressive pandering. Gun-control, jobs for illegals, and salary increases for do-nothing (or do-wrong) teachers unions. Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner gathered the endorsements of life-long Democrats, who recognize that the Land of Lincoln is in big trouble.
Then there’s New England. . .where Democratic majorities have dominated key states for years. Will New England start going red again in 2014, as part of the national voter backlash to entrenched hegemony?
Rhode Island has had a super-majority Democratic legislature for eight decades. The result? A culture of cronyism, taxation, and regulatory burdens. Like his Left Coast counterpart, GOP-Indie-Dem Governor Lincoln Chafee has turned Rhode Island into a sanctuary state of progressive secularism: no more eVerify for employers, HealthSourceRI (which is going bankrupt). No matter how a state leans, however, money cannot materialize from nothing. Necessary pension reforms put the Ocean State on the map, and the reform, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gina Raimondo, has the twin challenges of running against Wall Street and the Labor Unions.
Enter Republican Mayor Allan Fung. He balanced budgets, enacted pension reforms, supported businesses in Cranston. He opposes driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants, will reinstate eVerify, and he opposes taxpayer payback for 38 Studios. Fung is running neck-and-neck with Dem Gina in a five-to-one Democratic cesspool.
Then there’s Massachusetts, or Marxachussetts for its defining cultural relativism, or Taxachusetts for the take-and-take-some-more Beacon Hill legislature. Critics have lost count of the number of Mass Dems arrested, indicted, convicted, then reinstated in the media or the Boston political machine. In this deep blue state, a Republican state senator became a US Senator, and the 2014 GOP Gubernatorial candidate, Charlie Baker, is polling within the margins of error. Of course, he is running to the left of President Obama on social issues, but by his word he opposes illegal immigration. Will the Mass GOP take back the Corner Office? Will the fallout over RomneyCare and then Massachusetts’ Obamacare add-on beef up GOP numbers in Beacon Hill, too?
Then there’s Connecticut, where Governor Dannel Malloy expanded the regulatory burdens in his state as well, and then implemented a disconcerting gun registration program. This sweeping legislation felonized at least three hundred thousand gun owners, who in an act of civil disobedience refused to register anything. Malloy is losing by six points to a Republican challenger in this deep blue state.
While Republican governors in deep red states are facing a backlash for their sweeping reforms, Democratic leaders (and their party) are bracing for the same backlash. Could New England be going red for the first time since Reagan was President? If unrest continues over illegal immigration, and individual candidates ride the anti-Obama groundswell, New England Republicans may resurrect their presence and influence again.
Arthur Christopher Schaper is a teacher-turned-writer on topics both timeless and timely; political, cultural, and eternal. A life-long Southern California resident, Arthur currently lives in Torrance.