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
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 »
PROCEDURES NOT FOLLOWED
Trump Not on Ballot in Minnesota
2 days ago
THE LATEST
MOB RULE?
Trump on Immigration: ‘I Don’t Know, You Tell Me’
3 days ago
THE LATEST

Perhaps Donald Trump can take a plebiscite to solve this whole messy immigration thing. At a Fox News town hall with Sean Hannity last night, Trump essentially admitted he's "stumped," turning to the audience and asking: “Can we go through a process or do you think they have to get out? Tell me, I mean, I don’t know, you tell me.”

Source:
BIG CHANGE FROM WHEN HE SELF-FINANCED
Trump Enriching His Businesses with Donor Money
4 days ago
WHY WE CARE

Donald Trump "nearly quintupled the monthly rent his presidential campaign pays for its headquarters at Trump Tower to $169,758 in July, when he was raising funds from donors, compared with March, when he was self-funding his campaign." A campaign spokesman "said the increased office space was needed to accommodate an anticipated increase in employees," but the campaign's paid staff has actually dipped by about 25 since March. The campaign has also paid his golf courses and restaurants about $260,000 since mid-May.

Source:
QUESTIONS OVER IMMIGRATION POLICY
Trump Cancels Rallies
5 days ago
THE LATEST

Donald Trump probably isn't taking seriously John Oliver's suggestion that he quit the race. But he has canceled or rescheduled rallies amid questions over his stance on immigration. Trump rescheduled a speech on the topic that he was set to give later this week. Plus, he's also nixed planned rallies in Oregon and Las Vegas this month.

Source:
‘STRATEGY AND MESSAGING’
Sean Hannity Is Also Advising Trump
5 days ago
THE LATEST

Donald Trump's Fox News brain trust keeps growing. After it was revealed that former Fox chief Roger Ailes is informally advising Trump on debate preparation, host Sean Hannity admitted over the weekend that he's also advising Trump on "strategy and messaging." He told the New York Times: “I’m not hiding the fact that I want Donald Trump to be the next president of the United States. I never claimed to be a journalist.”

Source:
×