told the New York Times. “But organized labor has been losing clout, and the Republicans saw an opportunity, and now the chickens are coming home to roost.” This victory was important, then, both substantively and politically. And it brought into sharper focus the best news about the GOP these days: Governors. Despite a very disappointing showing at the federal level in November, at the state level things are quite encouraging. Republicans now control 30 governorships–the highest number for either party in a dozen years. (Democrats control 19 governorships and Rhode Island has an independent governor.)“Everybody has this image of Michigan as a labor state,” Bill Ballenger, the editor of Inside Michigan Politics,
Moreover, many of the brightest stars in the conservative
constellation are governors–people like Mitch Daniels (Indiana), Bob
McDonnell (Virginia), Scott Walker (Wisconsin), Bobby Jindal
(Louisiana), Chris Christie (New Jersey), John Kasich (Ohio), Susana
Martinez (New Mexico), and Nikki Haley (South Carolina), as well as
former Florida governor Jeb Bush.
These men and women are models for governance: conservative,
reform-minded, growth-oriented, and interested in what works. They tend
to be principled but not ideological. They’re problem solvers, they have
to balance their budgets, and they are generally popular in their
states. As a general rule they practice politics in a way that doesn’t
deepen mistrust or cynicism among the citizens of their states.
This period reminds me a bit of the 1990s, when many of the best
reforms (in areas like welfare and education) were coming from
governors. That’s certainly the case today. And it’s why many on the
right were hoping that in 2012 the best of the current class, Mitch
Daniels, had run for president of the United States (he opted for
becoming, starting next year, president of Purdue University). For now,
Republicans could hardly do better than to turn their lonely eyes to
state capitals throughout the country.
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