Saturday, August 29, 2009

The 2010 field for Governor

Time for a meaningless post, other than as an excuse to vent a little snark and, perhaps, spark a conversation.

With the lege adjourned, political silly season has begun (though some might consider the record of this year's lege to be definitive proof that in politics, "silly season" never ends.)

No "big name" candidates have officially announced yet (that pesky "resign to run" law), but that minor detail won't stop some idle speculation on my part. :)

On the Democratic side...

Terry Goddard - the presumptive Democratic nominee is the current Attorney General and is a former mayor of Phoenix. He is smart, experienced, highly-respected, and has been making large strides in addressing his one major weakness as a candidate - a speaking style that could sedate a room full of caffeine junkies on espresso IVs. His rousing speech at one of this year's Democratic Party State Committee meetings really opened some eyes.

Now, the field has apparently cleared for Goddard, but until the date sigs are due, things are subject to change. As such, a little discussion of some of the other names that have been bandied about on the Dem side is in order.

Jim Pederson - The former ADP chair and 2006 nominee for U.S. Senate mulled a run for guv, but perhaps reading the tea leaves, announced he is *not* going to seek the seat. Would have made it interesting - while he trails Goddard in the level of grassroots support in the party, that is only because Goddard is so respected. Pederson himself still has plenty of respect within the party, plenty of cash, and has learned some lessons from his campaign for Jon Kyl's Senate seat in 2006. Could run for Senate if McCain steps aside.

Neil Giuliano - The former Republican mayor of Tempe is neither a Republican nor mayor any longer. He might have made some noise in a primary with some support from the LGBT community (he's a former president of the gay-rights organization GLAAD), but most Dems would have looked at the newness of his turning away from the Dark Side of the Force enrollment in the Democratic Party and voted for someone else. He was rumored to be running, then rumored to not be running. The rumors of his interest have not completely died, so he is included here.

David Bradley - Current Democratic State Representative from southern AZ. Has pulled back from a run for governor and is rumored to be interested in another statewide office. Would have faced a seriously uphill battle in a primary due to nearly-nonexistent name recognition outside of his legislative district.

Everything stated/guessed here could change in a heartbeat if Republican U.S. Senator John McCain retires next year instead of standing for reelection. If that happens, all bets are off, up and down the ballot.

On the Republican side...

Jan Brewer - the current Governor ascended to the office after a long political career after Democrat Janet Napolitano stepped aside to become U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security. Brewer inherited a large budget deficit, and with the assistance of the Republican majority in the legislature, has turned a deficit into a disaster.

Fiscally, not only has the budget on her desk not closed the deficit, it has made it worse with massive tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy.

Politically, her call for a referendum on a temporary sales tax hike has utterly ticked off the pure anti-taxers in her party, cutting into any chance of her winning the Rep nod. Of course, while she has made some recent noises about running for a full term, she hasn''t done more than "make noises."

Of course, those noises could just be positioning in her budget negotiations with the lege. As a lame duck, she'd have even less influence than she has now; as a potential full-termer, the lege will at least have to listen when she speaks to them.

Still, with her career experience and the power of the incumbency, she has to be considered the favorite to win a primary, though not a prohibitive one.

John Munger - former chair of the state GOP. Apparently still has some name rec and some support within the GOP, but given that he is based in Tucson, would have an uphill fight ahead of him.

Andrew Thomas - current Maricopa County Attorney. Wants to turn his notoriety in anti-immigrant circles into a statewide run. Could do well in a GOP primary, but may find that hitching his star to the nativist wagon driven by Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio will hurt him in a statewide general election. May run for State Attorney General.

Tom Horne - The current State Superintendent of Public Instruction is "exploring" a run at AG, but has long held an interest in the 9th Floor, and the Brewer-led budget meltdown could make him think that next year is "the year."

Dean Martin - The current State Treasurer was rumored to have gubernortorial ambitions while he was still in the state senate. Probably has a clear run at the Rep nomination for Treasurer, but the tragic death of his wife and newborn son earlier this your could cause him to speed up the timing of his plans. Will eventually run for Governor. The only question is when.

Ken Bennett - The current Secretary of State was appointed to the office when Jan Brewer moved into the Governor's office. A former President of the State Senate, his comeback from a scandal involving his son's "misuse" of a broomstick with some pre-teen campers won't be complete until he wins an election. Bennett's problem isn't really what his son did (most folks understand that he is not his son and that the son was easily old enough to understand that his actions were improper) but with his son's sentence.

18 victims - 30 days.

When the scion of a politically powerful man receives that kind of jaw-dropping leniency, eyebrows get raised.

Still, he will be running, whether next year or in 2014.

JD Hayworth - Former Congressman (thank you, Harry Mitchell!!) and current radio talk show host. His name was mentioned as a possible 2010 candidate for Governor, even before he lost his congressional seat in 2006, but Governor is a "heavy lifting" kind of office, and Hayworth has never been known as a heavy lifting kind of office holder.

He might make a primary run at John McCain, but probably not for governor.

John Shadegg - Currently the Congressman from AZCD3. He announced his retirement last year, only to renounce that announcement a week later. Rumors persist that he will retire (and go through with it!) this time. He is more likely to take a stab at a Senate run if John McCain retires than to run for governor.

Jeff Flake - Currently the Congressman from AZCD6. Has long been rumored to be interested in the job, though he has indicated that he plans to run for reelection to Congress next year. May have realized that his anti-government ideology is a good fit for a member of the minority in Congress but is not such a good fit for a "govern"-or. In addition, while the Rep caucus in the lege is just as anti-government as he is, they are something he is not.

Completely freakin' NUTS.

Flake might consider them to be his ideological brethren, but they probably wouldn't show him any more respect than they've shown Brewer.

He will probably stay in Congress unless McCain retires.

Vernon Parker - Current Mayor of Paradise Valley. Could be intriguing as a candidate who is an African American Republican. Brings money and business connections, but would have to get through a GOP primary as an African American. More likely to be a king-maker this time around than the king.

Other names worth consideration (this isn't a comprehensive list as every R who has ever held or even run for a significant office is looking at a run at the 9th Floor) -

Kris Mayes - The term-limited Corporation Commissioner could be an interesting choice. She's moderate enough to woo some of the independent voters who are running full speed away from anything that even hints of the AZGOP. However, that moderation pretty much negates any chance of her making it through a statewide GOP primary. Could make gain some traction in a race for Congress, especially if Shadegg or Flake steps aside.

Karen Johnson - The former LD18 state senator has an open exploratory committee. She's a gun-toting, UFO-sighting, 9/11 truther. Running to make sure certain issues are part of the campaign dialogue. Wouldn't even sniff this list in any state not named "Arizona."

Here she has to be considered a serious dark horse.

Len Munsil - The GOP nominee in 2006 has to be listed, but his public profile has been pretty low since his lost to Janet Napolitano.

Hugh Hallman - Current Mayor of Tempe. Wants to go statewide, with a run at Governor sooner or later. May make a run at something next year with Tempe as his base of support, but could lose Tempe in a statewide general election - he's not well-liked there outside of his Rep base, and more Dems will turn out in a midterm than in a municipal election.

As with the Democrats, the key here is John McCain; if he decides to retire, all Rep candidates with at least consider running one level up. If he doesn't, expect something resembling status quo.

Either way, though, there will be a scrum for Governor.

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