Governor races

Governor races

Roy Barnes wins Georgia governor primary; GOP opponent still unknown

Georgia Democrat Roy Barnes will run for his old job after winning his party’s gubernatorial primary Tuesday. Barnes won a resounding victory over Attorney General Thurbert Baker, his closest competitor in the seven-man primary.

With about half the results counted, Barnes had a commanding lead with 63 percent of the vote to Baker’s 22 percent. The Associated Press declared him the winner. Barnes served one term as governor that ended in 2003.

The Republican gubernatorial primary, meanwhile, appears headed to a runoff between former Secretary of State Karen Handel and former Rep. Nathan Deal. The race hasn’t been called yet.

Barnes’s victory got the attention of the the Republican Governors Association, which called him “a lifetime politician and a personal injury trial lawyer.”

“While this is Roy’s fourth run at being governor of Georgia, we are confident the outcome in November will be so decisive that this will mercifully be his last,” Nick Ayers, executive director of the RGA, said in a statement. 

—This post was updated at 10:10 p.m. and 10:16


A crowded race for governor wraps in Georgia

Voting is underway in Georgia, where there are 14 candidates — seven Democrats and seven Republicans — vying to win their party’s nomination for governor. 

On the GOP side, a new poll shows state Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine slipping to fourth place after leading the pack for much of the race. The Sarah Palin-backed Karen Handel, meanwhile, leads in a InsiderAdvantage/WSB poll with 28 percent.

She’s had the lead in some other surveys completed since Palin made her endorsement on Facebook July 12.

Former Rep. Nathan Deal (R-Ga.) and former state Sen. Eric Johnson get 17 and 14 percent respectively in the latest poll. 

If none of the candidates break 50 percent, the top two will be forced into an August runoff.

Former Gov. Roy Barnes (D) is widely expected to win the Democratic nomination without having to go through a runoff. 

Polls close today at 7 p.m.


Pennsylvania Republican still leads after saying people ‘don’t want’ to work

Pennsylvania Republican Tom Corbett’s controversial remarks about the unemployed being unwilling to work until government benefits expire appear not to have resonated among likely voters.

Corbett still holds a double-digit lead over Democrat Dan Onorato in the state’s gubernatorial race.

Corbett has a 49 to 39 percent lead over Onorato among 750 likely votes in a Rasmussen Reports poll released Friday. The survey, which mirrors results from June, was conducted July 14 — five days after Corbett said “the jobs are there” and people just don’t want to work.

“People don’t want to come back to work while they still have come unemployment,” he told Pennsylvania Public Radio on July 9. “That’s becoming a problem.”

“The jobs are there, but if we keep extending unemployment people are just going to sit there,” he said.

The state had a 9.2 percent unemployment rate last month.

Onorato has already used the comments in a Web ad. On Friday he was at an event in Lancaster where he again hit Corbett for his comments.

“A Harrisburg insider like Tom Corbett who doesn’t even recognize the problems families are facing will never be able to offer the solutions that Pennsylvania needs,” Onorato said in a prepared statement.


DGA-funded group called Branstad ‘liberal’ during GOP primary

The Democratic Governors Association was so concerned about Iowa Gov. Chet Culver’s (D) prospects in a contest against Terry Branstad (R) that it tried to scuttle his gubernatorial campaign in the primary.

The DGA funneled millions to Iowans for Responsible Government, which attacked the former governor from the right during the GOP primary, according to the Des Moines Register.

One of the group’s mailings referred to Branstad as a “liberal’s liberal.” Meanwhile, in a recent e-mail to reporters, the DGA said Branstad ran “far to the right” in the June 8 primary and “has yet to demonstrate he’s running a general election campaign.”

A spokeswoman for the DGA did not respond to a request for comment.

According to the paper, the group received all of its funding — $782,500 — for a series of ads likening the Branstad to Democrats Bill Clinton and Nancy Pelosi. The group spent $767,236 in May and June, including almost $370,000 on TV advertising.

In total, the DGA has invested some $2 million in the race, including a $750,000 donation to Culver’s campaign that accounted for more than half of the $1.5 million he’s reported raising.


State Rep. Bentley defeats party favorite Byrne in Alabama gubernatorial runoff

Alabama state Rep. Robert Bentley won the Republican nomination for governor Tuesday, defeating Bradley Byrne in a runoff.

The Associated Press called the race with Bentley leading Byrne 57 percent to 43.

Bentley, who finished a close second in the June 1 primary, played the role of outsider to Byrne’s status as the pick of the state’s GOP establishment. In June, Byrne won 28 percent of the vote to Bentley’s 26 in a multi-candidate primary. 

The runoff was marked by negative ads from outside interests. The Alabama Education Association spent more than $2 million running ads against Byrne. The group encouraged Democrats to come out and vote against Byrne in the runoff.

The GOP establishment in the state, led by Sen. Jeff Sessions and Rep. Spencer Bachus, was firmly behind Byrne.

Given the expected low voter turnout, some Byrne backers were wary that crossover voting from Democrats would help Bentley.

Bentley will face state Agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks (D) in November’s general election.  



Ex-Rep. Deal accuses Palin-backed opponent of supporting gay 'outreach'

Former Rep. Nathan Deal’s (R-Ga.) gubernatorial campaign reacted nastily to Sarah Palin’s endorsement Monday of primary rival Karen Handel (R).

Deal, in a statement, called Palin’s decision “disappointing” and then accused Handel of voting to fund gay “outreach” to “kids,” according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

“As Fulton Commission chair, Handel voted to give taxpayer dollars to ‘Youth Pride’ which did outreach to gay and ‘questioning’ kids as young as 13 and funded seminars such as ‘Unsung Heroes of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Community’ — this was during a budget crisis,” Deal said in the statement.

In a note on her Facebook page, Palin called Handel a “reformer.”

“This pro-life, pro-Constitutionalist with a can-do attitude and a record of fighting for ethics in government is ready to serve in the governor’s office,” she wrote

Last month Palin’s backing helped South Carolina Republican Nikki Haley claim her party’s gubernatorial nod.

In Georiga on Monday, Handel’s campaign dismissed Deal’s remark.

“These guys are really just embarrassing themselves,” said Dan McLagan, a spokesman for the former secretary of state.


DGA tries to downplay 2nd quarter fundraising flop

The Democratic Governors Association trailed badly in second quarter fundraising. It pulled in $9.1 million, which is less than half what the Republican Governors Association raised. 

The RGA announced Thursday it has raised $18.9 million since the end of March and now has some $40 million cash on hand. The DGA, meanwhile, has $22 million cash on hand.

The RGA holds the overall lead for the year, too, having raised $28 million in 2010 to the Democrats' $17 million. Still, this is the DGA's "best-ever fundraising for the first six months of the year," according to a release.

Republican strategists have spoken openly about the importance the party places on gubernatorial races this cycle with redistricting looming after the Census is complete in December. But DGA executive director Nathan Daschle said the RGA may have gotten an added boost from the controversy surrounding the party's other campaign committees.

"To be honest, given the mass donor exodus from the RNC, we never expected to outraise the RGA. But we have marshaled historic resources to compete aggressively across the map," Daschle said in a statement. "With marquee states like California, Florida and Texas up for grabs, more Americans could have a Democratic governor after November than ever before."

--Updated at 5:23 p.m.


RGA flush with cash ahead of crucial gubernatorial races

With redistricting on the horizon, the Republican Governors Association (RGA) had its largest fundraising quarter to date. The committee has pulled in $18.9 million since the end of March and now has some $40 million cash on hand, according to a release.

"For three and a half years, we have been implementing a plan to secure a majority of governors and rebuild the Republican Party from the state level," Nick Ayers, the RGA’s executive director, said in a statement. "Our disciplined approach is paying off, and we are in position to inject precious resources behind quality candidates who will win, govern effectively and broaden our base."

The RGA's previous largest fundraising quarter — in which it pulled in $11.9 million — occurred in the fourth quarter of 2009, when it was fighting to win elections in Virginia and New Jersey.

The committee has raised $28 million in 2010.

"The Republican Governors Association has the momentum, message and money needed to make massive gains this November," said Ayers.

Republicans and Democrats are focused on governors' races this cycle because, once in office, they play a significant role in most states’ redistricting processes.

The Democratic Governors Association has yet to release its second-quarter numbers.


Florida Tea Party feud escalates

The Florida Tea Party — an organization some activists in the state are calling a Democratic front group — is threatening to crash an event Wednesday night featuring Republican Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Bill McCollum. 

It's part of the ongoing war between the Florida Tea Party and other activist groups in the state that has focused attention recently on Rep. Alan Grayson (D).      

The South Florida Tea Party is accusing political operative and former talk-radio host Doug Guetzloe of promoting a front group to field fake Tea Party candidates in races across the state, and Guetzloe isn't taking kindly to news that he and his group have been uninvited to an event Wednesday night with McCollum. 

Tim McClellan, a political consultant and tea party organizer, said Guetzloe's group is a fraud and is aiming to confuse state voters on who represents the real Tea Party. "He's just trying to disrupt as many races as possible," he said.

In an interview, Guetzloe said his group is legit and repeatedly spoke of the need to rid the Tea Party movement of its "Nazi wing." News reports have pointed to connections between Guetzloe and Grayson, who has denied any involvement with the Florida Tea Party. And McClellan is convinced that Grayson's Tea Party challenger, Peg Dunmire, is a plant. 

"I've got plenty of security for this event," said McClellan. "So we'll just wait and see what happens." 

A spokesperson for the McCollum campaign told The Hill the attorney general is committed to attending Wednesday night's event and will leave the guest list up to the event's organizers.