Category Archives: Governor

Newark Mayor Booker’s Plans for Governor

Newark Mayor Cory Booker

Newark Mayor Cory Booker

Newark Mayor Cory Booker (D), who has been publicly debating whether he should challenge New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) next year, has decided not to do so. Instead, he intends to complete his second term as mayor, but would consider a run for the US Senate in 2014.

Does this mean he will launch a primary challenge to Sen. Frank Lautenberg, who will turn 88 years old before the next election? Booker remained silent on such a possibility, other than to make laudatory comments about the senator. Lautenberg has expressed a desire to run again but his age clearly makes him a retirement possibility.

Without the Democrats’ top choice in the governor’s race, it appears that Christie may be fortunate enough to draw a second-tier opponent. The only announced Democratic candidate is state Sen. Barbara Buono, but questions surround whether she can mount the type of excessively expensive campaign necessary to oust the first-term Republican governor.

Crist Running Well Among Democrats

It appears more probable that former Florida Republican Gov. Charlie Crist will attempt to regain his old job, but this time as a Democrat. And, if his personal approval ratings, as captured by the latest Quinnipiac University Florida poll, are accurate, then his chances of performing well before his new party voters are rapidly improving.

Crist, who was literally run out of the Republican senatorial primary by then-former state House Speaker Marco Rubio two years ago, ran poorly in the Senate race as an Independent and officially registered as a Democrat last week.

The new Q-Poll (Dec. 11-17; 1,261 registered Florida voters) gives Crist an overall 47:33 percent positive to negative personal favorability rating. Surprisingly, this is much better than 2010 nominee Alex Sink, who only lost to incumbent Gov. Rick Scott by just one percentage point. Ms. Sink’s favorability index was 27:14 percent, which yields a decent 2:1 positive ratio, but her name familiarity is much lower than one would have guessed about a person who ran in a major statewide contest in 2010 and had previously served in a statewide position, while twice attracting more than 2.5 million votes.

More confirming research will have to be presented before accepting the premise that Crist would be doing this well within his new party, especially in comparison to as accomplished a Democrat as Alex Sink.

Hanabusa Makes it Official

A day after it was publicly released that the late Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-HI) made clear his wish for Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-HI-1) to succeed him, the first-term congresswoman immediately qualified herself for the appointment. In a letter to the Hawaii Democratic Party leadership, Hanabusa officially asked to be included on the list of recommended potential senatorial replacement candidates.

Under Hawaii election law, a vacancy in a US Senate post must be filled by a member of the vacating senator’s party. In this case, the Hawaii Democratic Party under state Chairman Dante Keala Carpenter, must provide Gov. Neil Abercrombie (D) the names of three Senate replacement candidates, of which he must choose one to serve until the 2014 special election, which will be held concurrently with the regular election calendar. It is widely believed that Abercrombie will now appoint Hanabusa, thus honoring the late senator’s wish, and will do so before the Senate comes to order on Jan. 3. There is some speculation that the Party will only submit Hanabusa’s name to Gov. Abercrombie, if such a move is legally allowable.

Senate Picture Changes Again

Hawaii

The passing of venerable Senator Dan Inouye (D-HI) has brought yet another vacancy to the Senate. Mr. Inouye, first elected to Congress as Hawaii’s original member of the House of Representatives in 1959, won his first senatorial term in 1962. He served continuously until yesterday. Along with retiring seat-mate Daniel Akaka (D), Hawaii had the most senior delegation in the nation. With Inouye’s death and Akaka leaving in January, the state will now have two freshman senators, losing a combined 70 years in seniority.

The Hawaii seat now becomes the 35th in the 2014 election cycle. Gov. Neil Abercrombie (D) will choose an interim appointment who will serve until a 2014 special election is held concurrently with the regular November vote. The winner will then serve the remaining two years of Inouye’s term, meaning the seat will be contested for a full six-year stint in 2016. Should Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) be appointed Secretary of State, as many believe will soon happen, the Massachusetts, Hawaii, and South Carolina seats will all be going to special election in 2014 with a regular election for the same seat following two years later.

South Carolina

In South Carolina, Gov. Nikki Haley (R), surprising many who believed would act after the first of the year, announced that she will appoint Rep. Tim Scott (R-SC-1) to replace outgoing Sen. Jim DeMint (R). Continue reading>

Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.)

Replacing Sen. Kerry?

Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.)

Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.)

Since US Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice has withdrawn from consideration as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s replacement, Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry (D) now appears to top the list of appointment candidates. Assuming Pres. Barack Obama chooses Kerry, speculation on Capitol Hill is already percolating about who will succeed the 28-year senatorial veteran.

Liberal Massachusetts and conservative Texas have at least one thing in common. They share the same uncommon way of replacing senators when a vacancy occurs. In each state, the respective governor appoints an individual to serve only until a special election can be held; the winner of which then serves the remainder of the term. Most states empower the governor to appoint an interim-senator until the next regular election, therefore bypassing a special vote. Continue reading>

Haley Narrows Her List

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley’s (R) visit to the Charleston area yesterday did not result in her naming a replacement for outgoing Sen. Jim DeMint (R) as some thought it might, but reports from her office suggest that her short list contains five names.

Top Choice: Rep. Tim Scott

Most believe the leading contender is freshman Rep. Tim Scott (R-SC-1), who won a big re-election in November and was subsequently appointed to the House Ways & Means Committee. Aside from being a capable replacement for DeMint, Rep. Scott scores political points for the governor in several ways. Haley is standing for re-election in 2014 with upside down approval ratings, and along comes a new Public Policy Polling survey (Dec. 7-9; 520 registered South Carolina voters) that posts her two points behind (44-46 percent) the man she defeated in 2010, Democratic state Sen. Vincent Shaheen. This tells us that the governor needs political strengthening.

Among other benefits, the Scott appointment would allow her to take credit for appointing the first African-American senator in the state’s post-Reconstruction history. Secondly, since Scott enjoys strong support from South Carolina’s Tea Party movement, selecting him would help Haley with the very group that could bring forth a challenger against her in the Republican primary. Third, by appointing the Charleston area congressman, she can restore the Upcountry/Low Country balance that the state traditionally featured. Both current senators, DeMint and Lindsey Graham (R), are from the northwestern sector of the state. Thus, she could theoretically increase her Charleston area support with this move. Fourth, Haley would gain kudos from national conservatives who are also pushing Scott for the appointment, possibly including Sen. DeMint himself. Though he claims not to be lobbying for anyone, most observers believe that the outgoing incumbent favors Rep. Scott as his successor.

The Remaining Four Options

Others on what is believed to be her short list of contenders are Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC-4), state cabinet officer Catherine Templeton, former Attorney General Henry McMaster (R), and Jenny Sanford, the state’s former First Lady, who handled herself so positively during her husband’s — former Gov. Mark Sanford — nationally publicized extra-marital affair.

Rep. Gowdy, also a freshman who just won a big re-election, brings little to the table for Haley. Though conservative, he represents DeMint’s former congressional district, so he fails to bring any geographic balance. He is unknown outside of the Greenville-Spartanburg region, so it’s difficult to see how the governor improves her own standing through his appointment.

Templeton is a confidant of the governor who already has received appointments to a pair of statewide cabinet posts. She currently is in charge of the South Carolina Department of Health. She hails from the Charleston area, thus bringing geographical balance but has little in the way of a political base. Furthermore, Templeton has no legislative experience, so starting her career as a legislator in the United States Senate will require a rather large learning curve that could put her well behind in preparing for a statewide election. This could make her vulnerable in what would likely transform itself into a messy primary confrontation — something Haley will certainly want to avoid.

McMaster is a former two-term attorney general and chairman of the South Carolina Republican Party. He ran against Sen. Ernest “Fritz” Hollings (D-SC) in 1986, and for governor against Haley, herself, in 2010. McMaster finished a distant third in the gubernatorial primary contest, failing to secure the second run-off position. That fell to Rep. Gresham Barrett (R-SC-3), who Haley defeated in a landslide. McMaster, from Columbia, does not appear to be a good fit for Haley, but including him on her short list does throw a bone to the state’s Republican establishment.

Jenny Sanford is a popular figure with obviously high name identification. She, too, is from Charleston and highly identified with the city, since she maintained the family home there instead of moving to the Governor’s Mansion in Columbia when her husband was elected. Sanford is not closing the door on accepting the appointment, saying she is “honored” to be considered. What is probably more likely than her being appointed to the Senate is running in the special election for the 1st Congressional District – her husband’s former House seat – should Scott receive the appointment.

The Likely Outcome

The prevailing political winds point toward Gov. Haley appointing Rep. Scott. Expect this action to occur immediately upon Sen. DeMint’s official resignation. All of the prospective candidates on this list would be competent Senators for the state, so making a credible selection is not an issue. Since Scott is the best political pick, and the governor needs a political boost, the odds are strong that she will soon turn in his direction.

Crist Makes It Official

charlie-crist

Former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist officially registered as a Democrat yesterday in what is likely a prelude to entering the 2014 gubernatorial contest against incumbent Rick Scott (R). Crist announced the move via his Twitter account, Tweeting a picture Friday of he and his beaming wife with his Florida voter registration form. Crist, as a Republican, served one term as governor and chose to run for Senate instead of seeking re-election. The move proved politically disastrous.

Marco Rubio, then a former state House Speaker, ran such an effective early Republican primary campaign that Crist was literally forced out of the party, choosing to run in the general election as an Independent. He placed second to Rubio, trailing 49-30 percent, but came in 10 points ahead of the Democratic nominee, then-Rep. Kendrick Meek (D-FL-17).

Usually, a party-switcher’s most difficult election is his first primary in the new party. If Crist enters the Democratic nomination contest, he almost assuredly will have competition. In fact, he could still face the Democratic 2010 gubernatorial nominee, former Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, who only lost to Scott by a scant one percentage point, 49-48 percent. Sink has yet to rule out another run.

Scott is viewed as vulnerable because his job approval ratings have continued to hover around the 40 percent mark or lower for most of his tenure. As is the case for virtually every race in Florida, the contest is expected to be close.