Republican Governors Top the Democrats’ Hit List in 2014

The Democratic Governors Association is running a first-strike operation against several of the GOP’s leading presidential contenders.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker testifies during a meeting of the House Oversight and Government Reform committee, which he chairs, on Thursday, April 14, 2011.
National Journal
Alex Roarty
See more stories about...
Alex Roarty
March 2, 2014, 9:07 a.m.

A Demo­crat­ic Party stuck to play­ing de­fense in House and Sen­ate races is fo­cus­ing anew on a hand­ful of key gubernat­ori­al battles as its best chance to make its mark in this year’s midterm elec­tion. The party’s biggest po­ten­tial prize: Knock­ing off highly touted Re­pub­lic­an gov­ernors be­fore they be­come a threat in the next pres­id­en­tial cam­paign.

Of­fi­cials at the Demo­crat­ic Gov­ernors As­so­ci­ation are run­ning a first-strike op­er­a­tion against a col­lec­tion of GOP White House hope­fuls like Wis­con­sin Gov. Scott Walk­er and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, two pos­sible pres­id­en­tial can­did­ates-in-wait­ing who face a reelec­tion cam­paign at home first. Oth­er likely pres­id­en­tial con­tenders, like Louisi­ana Gov. Bobby Jin­dal and New Jer­sey Gov. Chris Christie, aren’t run­ning for re­lec­tion this year, but non­ethe­less fall in­to the DGA’s sights.

“If Demo­crats really care about the things we said we cared about, we need to take these guys out,” said Lis Smith, a DGA con­sult­ant. “These will be same is­sues that will come up in 2016.”

DGA strategists stress they’re not think­ing about 2016 and care only about win­ning races this year, es­pe­cially in im­port­ant battle­ground like Pennsylvania and Flor­ida, where vul­ner­able Re­pub­lic­an gov­ernors don’t have na­tion­al am­bi­tions. But they are also keenly aware that their ef­forts could non­ethe­less have a big im­pact on the next pres­id­en­tial elec­tion — a real­ity not lost on them when they try to re­cruit at­ten­tion and money to fight this year’s races.

The goal for Demo­crats is to de­feat a can­did­ate like Walk­er or Kasich, an out­come that would po­ten­tially knock them out of the 2016 pres­id­en­tial race be­fore it even be­gins. Their work in 2014 could amount to an early play­book for the 2016 Demo­crat­ic pres­id­en­tial nom­in­ee.

Walk­er has been in the group’s fo­cus, with pub­lic polls show­ing he faces a com­pet­it­ive reelec­tion test against wealthy busi­ness­wo­man Mary Burke. The DGA has played a pivotal role fuel­ing the con­tro­versy in­volving Walk­er’s staff work­ing with him on his first gubernat­ori­al elec­tion — against state law.

When the scan­dal ree­m­erged last month, the DGA passed along a com­bat­ive in­ter­view from Walk­er to Fox News’ Chris Wal­lace. Earli­er this year, be­fore his State of the State ad­dress, the DGA cri­ti­cized the gov­ernor for fail­ing to pro­duce as many jobs for Wis­con­sin as he ori­gin­ally prom­ised. And when the gov­ernor took the MS­N­BC’s The Daily Run­down to op­pose an in­crease in the fed­er­al min­im­um wage, the group again cri­ti­cized him with a flurry of press re­leases.

The DGA has tra­di­tion­ally been over­shad­owed by the bet­ter-fun­ded Re­pub­lic­an Gov­ernors As­so­ci­ation — last year, the RGA raised $50 mil­lion to the DGA’s $28 mil­lion. Still, last year’s haul was a re­cord one in an off year — one of­fi­cials say was at­trib­ut­able in part to the group’s strategy of na­tion­al­iz­ing the state-cent­ric races to draw Demo­crats’ in­terest.

“Our job isn’t to bloody up the pres­id­en­tial can­did­ates,” said Danny Kan­ner, a DGA spokes­man. “But that said, it is im­port­ant for Demo­crats to un­der­stand that we can de­feat some of these guys now.”

What We're Following See More »
BACKING OUT ON BERNIE
Trump Won’t Debate Sanders After All
3 days ago
THE LATEST

Trump, in a statement: “Based on the fact that the Democratic nominating process is totally rigged and Crooked Hillary Clinton and Deborah Wasserman Schultz will not allow Bernie Sanders to win, and now that I am the presumptive Republican nominee, it seems inappropriate that I would debate the second place finisher. ... I will wait to debate the first place finisher in the Democratic Party, probably Crooked Hillary Clinton, or whoever it may be.”

AKNOWLEDGING THE INEVITABLE
UAW: Time to Unite Behind Hillary
4 days ago
THE DETAILS

"It's about time for unity," said UAW President Dennis Williams. "We're endorsing Hillary Clinton. She's gotten 3 million more votes than Bernie, a million more votes than Donald Trump. She's our nominee." He called Sanders "a great friend of the UAW" while saying Trump "does not support the economic security of UAW families." Some 28 percent of UAW members indicated their support for Trump in an internal survey.

Source:
AP KEEPING COUNT
Trump Clinches Enough Delegates for the Nomination
4 days ago
THE LATEST

"Donald Trump on Thursday reached the number of delegates needed to clinch the Republican nomination for president, completing an unlikely rise that has upended the political landscape and sets the stage for a bitter fall campaign. Trump was put over the top in the Associated Press delegate count by a small number of the party's unbound delegates who told the AP they would support him at the convention."

Source:
TRUMP FLOATED IDEA ON JIMMY KIMMEL’S SHOW
Trump/Sanders Debate Before California Primary?
4 days ago
THE LATEST
CAMPAIGNS INJECTED NEW AD MONEY
California: It’s Not Over Yet
4 days ago
THE LATEST

"Clinton and Bernie Sanders "are now devoting additional money to television advertising. A day after Sanders announced a new ad buy of less than $2 million in the state, Clinton announced her own television campaign. Ads featuring actor Morgan Freeman as well as labor leader and civil rights activist Dolores Huerta will air beginning on Fridayin Fresno, Sacramento, and Los Angeles media markets. Some ads will also target Latino voters and Asian American voters. The total value of the buy is about six figures according to the Clinton campaign." Meanwhile, a new poll shows Sanders within the margin of error, trailing Clinton 44%-46%.

Source:
×