Rising Governors: Making Tough Choices and Headlines

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National Journal
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Julia Edwards
Feb. 23, 2011, 7:42 a.m.

Gov­ernors who face steep budget short­falls, testy law­makers, and ra­ging uni­on lead­ers are gain­ing more at­ten­tion this week thanks to the show­down in Wis­con­sin in­volving Gov. Scott Walk­er. Avoid­ing that “this is go­ing to hurt” face and mak­ing tough calls has brought both praise and protest. We take a look at those whose dif­fi­cult choices have cast them in the spot­light, for bet­ter or for worse.

WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 01: Ohio Governor-elect John Kasich talks with reporters after meeting with House and Senate Republican leaders and fellow governors-elect at the U.S. Capitol December 1, 2010 in Washington, DC. The GOP leaders talked about ways to create jobs, cut spending and ways to repeal the health care law. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images) National Journal

Ohio Gov. John Kasich — Des­pite uni­on protests out­side the State­house, Kasich is for­ging ahead on a massive over­haul of col­lect­ive-bar­gain­ing rules. Kasich says back­ing down to the uni­ons’ re­quest would lead to more ex­cess­ive spend­ing by the state gov­ern­ment.

MADISON, WI - FEBRUARY 21: Republican Gov. Scott Walker speaks at a news conference inside the Wisconsin State Capitol February 21, 2011 in Madison, Wisconsin. With state Democrats still in hiding over the legislation proposed by the Governor to restrict collective bargaining for public workers, Walker urged Democratic lawmakers to return to the capitol to conduct business. (Photo by Eric Thayer/Getty Images) National Journal

Wis­con­sin Gov. Scott Walk­er — A no-name cata­pul­ted to fame amid dis­putes with labor uni­ons. Walk­er had been in of­fice a little over a month be­fore 14 Demo­crat­ic state sen­at­ors left Wis­con­sin to block a bill that would re­strict most pub­lic em­ploy­ee uni­ons. Walk­er’s woes, made flesh in the form of huge crowds of pro­test­ers at the cap­it­ol, have been met with sup­port by po­ten­tial 2012 pres­id­en­tial can­did­ates, in­clud­ing Tim Pawlenty, Mitt Rom­ney, and Rick San­tor­um, who may be com­pet­ing to sign Walk­er on as a vice-pres­id­en­tial can­did­ate.

Gov. Mitch Daniels, R-Ind., didn't pander to the crowd at the Conservative Political Action Conference. Office of Gov. Mitch Daniels

In­di­ana Gov. Mitch Daniels — Un­like his Wis­con­sin coun­ter­part, Daniels did not stand up for In­di­ana’s right-to-work bill when House Demo­crats fled his state to avoid a vote. On Feb­ru­ary 22, the Re­pub­lic­an told re­port­ers that budget time was not the time to ad­dress prob­lems with uni­ons. Daniels, who spoke at this year’s Con­ser­vat­ive Polit­ic­al Ac­tion Con­fer­ence as a po­ten­tial 2012 pres­id­en­tial con­tender, was writ­ten off as “not pres­id­en­tial” by con­ser­vat­ive talk show host Mark Lev­in.

ALBANY, NY - JANUARY 1: Governor Andrew M. Cuomo speaks at his inauguration in the War Room at the state Capitol on January 1, 2011 in Albany, New York. In attendance were Governor Cuomo's girlfriend Sandra Lee, his daughters Michaela, Mariah and Cara and his parents former Governor Mario M. Cuomo and Matilda Cuomo. (Photo by Nathaniel Brooks-Pool/Getty Images) Getty Images

New York Gov. An­drew Cuomo — The newly elec­ted Demo­crat an­nounced plans for a “fun­da­ment­al re­align­ment” of gov­ern­ment at his State of the State ad­dress. Al­though his pro­pos­als are watered-down com­pared to Walk­er’s, they’re tak­ing heat from uni­ons and oth­ers in Cuomo’s party.

Head and shoulders portrait of Marquette student Scott Walker, 1990.   Marquette University Libraries/Department of Special Collections and University Archives

Flor­ida Gov. Rick Scott — In or­der to close a $3.6 bil­lion budget short­fall, Scott made drastic cuts in the state’s spend­ing, in­clud­ing a 10 per­cent cut in edu­ca­tion and elim­in­at­ing al­most 9,000 state jobs. The tea-party-backed gov­ernor has also sug­ges­ted roughly $4 bil­lion in tax cuts. His op­pon­ents say he’s go­ing too far.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie speaks at a New Jersey Chamber of Commerce event at the Marriott Wardman Park in Washington DC on Thursday, January 27, 2011. National Journal

New Jer­sey Gov. Chris Christie — Christie’s pres­ence was nev­er small, but the gov­ernor’s fisc­al con­ser­vat­ism is now bring­ing him more at­ten­tion than ever. His vow to close New Jer­sey’s $10.5 bil­lion budget gap without rais­ing taxes is leav­ing some of the state’s may­ors wor­ried.

Republican Nevada Governor-elect Brian Sandoval gives his victory speech at the Nevada Republican Party's election results watch party at the Venetian Resort Hotel Casinio on November 2, 2010 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Sandoval defeated Democrat Rory Reid to become the first Hispanic to hold office as Nevada State governor. David Becker/Getty Images

Nevada Gov. Bri­an San­dov­al — San­dov­al could be the next Walk­er, as pro­test­ers began ral­ly­ing by the hun­dreds in Car­son City, along with an es­tim­ated 1,000 in Las Ve­gas on Monday, call­ing for a budget solu­tion that doesn’t rely on cuts alone. But San­dov­al has been re­lent­less in his stance against tax hikes. His agenda in­cludes a 5 per­cent pay de­crease for all state em­ploy­ees and cuts across the board for so­cial ser­vices.

Jerry Brown and lawmakers National Journal

Cali­for­nia Gov. Jerry Brown — The Demo­crat is on the op­pos­ite side of the gov­ernor vs. le­gis­lature de­bate. Cali­for­nia has the largest budget short­fall in the coun­try, and Brown’s op­pon­ents don’t think he’s do­ing enough to close it. Re­pub­lic­ans in the le­gis­lature are hold­ing Brown’s budget host­age un­til he in­cludes pen­sion re­form and ser­i­ous spend­ing cuts, Re­u­ters re­ports.

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