Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Schaper's Reflections: Governors' Races Election 2014

Many sighs of relief,  some twinges of regret, and reasons to rejoice define my reflections regarding the 2014 Governor races.

Let me get the disappointments out of the way:


Rhode Island

Not just on national politics, I focus on Rhode Island politics, and despite some victories at the local level, the statewide field fared terribly.

The Ocean State Republicans had a bad night statewide.

Cranston Mayor Allan Fung has one of the best records for his city. Property taxes remain low, pension problems have eased, people feel safe in his city, and residents like their mayor.

He was a charming candidate from the beginning. He showed compassion and courage revealing the painful details of a tragedy during his youth. He fought hard against a self-serving primary opponent, who conceded and endorsed him one week later. He was bold, reaching out to all demographics.

A selfish spoiler, Robert Healey, ruined his chances. Federal candidates fared terribly, as well.

Rhode Island needed, no needs! major reforms. Pension liabilities have pushed state capital Providence into insolvency. The state legislature is so corrupt, the FBI had to invade, investigate, then remove thousands of documents from Democratic House Speaker Gordon Fox's office. He resigned the speakership, yet brazenly remained seated until November. Despite major problems in the state, the electorate hangs onto the reliable evil Democratic label rather than crossing over to the GOP. On a slightly better note, Republicans doubled their representation in the state assembly, and added to their numbers in the senate.

But the governor's race was the biggest push, and the Republicans did not win it. Very sad.


Dannel Malloy

Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy is a jerk. No one could put it more squarely. Connecticut is one of the most highly-taxed states in the union. People may live there, but they are dying to leave, and die somewhere else. Retirement is taxed, public sector unions reign supreme, and every progressive talking point is spoken in: transgender bathrooms, drivers licenses for illegal immigrants, and forced minimum wage hikes, state health insurance exchanges (which are failing), combined with cost overruns, budget deficits, and unsustainable debt have made


Congressman Cory Gardner did a phenomenal job unseating US Senator Mark Udall. From debates to delegations,  to just plain getting out the vote, the calm yet collected representatives scored a welcome upset. Local efforts in 2013 recalled two liberal state senators for their gun control grabs, and now the chamber has flipped GOP. Unfortunately, the federal and local wins did not translate into a statewide victory for Republican Bob Beauprez against incumbent Governor John Hickenlooper. It was a close race, though, and conservatives have pushed back against the leftist ground game in the Centennial State.


I was concerned about a few governors, who faced severe criticism for bold reforms, but they held their ground to fight again.


Brownback is back in office

Governor Sam Brownback cut taxes deeply, and limited government spending on social services. He pushed through comprehensive education reforms, too. Republicans did not like his bold and sudden moves. The backlash was hurting his reelection chances to such an extent, that one hundred Kansas Republican lawmakers, past and present, endorsed the Democratic opponent. I had commented in the past that Brownback's tax cuts would take time to materialize lasting benefits.

Fortunately, the anti-Obama sentiments were stronger, and Brownback is back in office, where he can develop the lasting benefits of his reforms.


Paul LePage wins in Maine
Governor Paul LePage is one of the best governors in the Republican Governors Association. Brasher than New Jersey Governor Chris  Christie, more controversial than Walker or Snyder, he cut the spending, lowered taxes, defended battered women, told off the politically correct media, and won reelection in moderate-liberal New England Bastion.


Republican Robocop Rick Snyder survived an expected challenge. He pushed right-to-work legislation in the cradle of the Labor Movement in 2012. The long-term success of this reform depended on his election, and recent polling had danced between Snyder and his Democratic counterpart. His win will embolden other states to enact labor reforms both pro-worker and pro-economic growth. Expect Missouri to take up right-to-work next term, along with heavily Republican West Virginia and Kentucky.


In this state, I breathe a sigh of relief and a cry of joy. Republican Scott Walker won the third statewide election for governor in a liberal state, and his commanding margin puts away the liberal refrain that the former Madison County Executive is a Koch Brothers puppet, bought and paid for. From his tough stance against public sector unions, to his property tax cuts and his defense of life and family, Governor Walker is the conservative leader Americans have been looking for. This third way solidifies his path to a 2016 Presidential run, as well as emboldening his gubernatorial colleagues to push back against Big Labor on behalf of the Little Guy.


Rick Scott was the something bold, while Republican-turned-Independent-turned Democrat Charlie Crist was everything old. He tried to walk back decades of Republican politicking to retake his former seat as governor. Despite big money from Big Green Tom Steyer (from CA, no less), Crist missed his chance, again. Florida will enjoy its tax-free haven status, along with better schools run on less money, plus mandated drug testing for all welfare recipients. California pro-golfer Phil Mickelson may be moving to the Sunshine state, and so will many more red state voters blue in their blue state homes.


These election wins were welcome surprises on election night.


Bruce Rauner

The polling had suggested that Democratic incumbent Pat Quinn would revive and survive 2014. He didn't. Good news for Illinois. Worse than California for its pension crisis, worse than Rhode Island for its public safety chaos, Illinois is the epitome of progressives, liberal Democratic dysfunction. Like Republicans bolting for Kansas Democrat Paul David, top-tier Democrats in the Land of Lincoln stood with Republican businessman Bruce Rauner. The state needs help, and Democratic policies of tax, spend, regulate, and subsidize have driven Illinois into insolvency. Rauner ran on a platform of introducing Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's reforms to Springfield. With this election win, Republicans may find a reliably blue state turning purple in time for Presidential Election 2016.


Larry Hogan
Did anyone see this coming? Not me, not many conservatives, and certainly not the Democrats. Like ultra-liberal Connecticut, Maryland has become a not-so merry land of progressive policy enactment, with terrible results.  Retiring Democratic governor Martin O'Malley's gun-grabbing blew up in his face, and the state health care exchange was so bad, they had to scrap it entirely. Congressional races also reveal a voter dissatisfaction with bad business-as-usual Democrats in Annapolis. Republican Harry Logan took advantage of a last-minute visit from President Obama (when scores of attendees walked out early), along with the frustrations of western residents who had sought secession from the liberal eastern part of the state.


Former Congressman Asa Hutchinson had run for the governor's mansion before and last. This time, he was successful, riding the anti-Obama wave of resentment, plus the ongoing Nixon Southern Strategy, where conservative Southerners have realized that the Democratic Party has left them, and joined the GOP. An expected win in this deeply conservative state trending GOP for years, Hutchinson's tenure will likely capitalize on the winning reforms in Kansas and Michigan, broadening conservative principles and their appeal for years to come.



I have mixed feelings about this race. Charlie Baker is one of the most liberal Republicans out there. He claimed to be "to the left of Obama" on social issues. That is not a good thing. Granted, he changed his tune on immigration and fiscal issues while running, but his Democratic opponent, Martha Coakley, is a terrible campaigner. This outcome owes as much to Democratic ineptitude as Republican grassroots efforts. Having already lost the special election for US Senate in 2010, the former attorney general dragged in her wake a legacy of bad judgment and campaign failure. Whether this liberal Republican turns out good results in Massachusetts' best interests will take some time to assess.

Final Reflections

Republicans now hold thirty-one governorships, and control two-thirds of the state legislatures. This laboratory of conservative democracy will further repudiate manic, overreaching liberalism, and provide a deep bench of Republican Presidential candidates in 2016. Besides the US Senate reversals, the expanded roster of Republican Governors is a welcome development which will pay dividends of life and liberty for years to come.

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