Governor races

Governor races

Brewer denies rumors of bad health as speculation grows

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) denied rumors that she is ill Thursday after critics accused her of hiding a health issue they say could threaten her ability, if elected, to serve a full term.

"I am just perfectly fine," she told Fox's Greta Van Susteren in an interview. "But it has gotten to the point where we're talking about irrelevant ridiculous things in this campaign, and that is unfortunate."

Her denial hasn't satisfied local blogs, which wondered following her infamous 16-second pause during a debate with Democratic challenger Terry Goddard whether it was the sign of a health problem.

Former Arizona Senate candidate John Dougherty (D), an investigative reporter, has fueled further speculation with a post to his Facebook page claiming sources have told him Brewer, 66, recently had a biopsy for thyroid cancer.

He pointed to a TV appearance Brewer made in early October in which she wore a bandage consistent with the procedure, and said Friday that the campaign had not returned requests for comment.

Brewer, meanwhile, has consistently denied rumors that she is ill, saying they are politically-motivated.

"There have been recent outlandish and completely unsubstantiated reports on liberal internet blogs and Twitter citing anonymous sources questioning my health," she said in a statement Tuesday. "Before committing to seek election, I had a complete checkup with my doctors and confirmed there is nothing to prevent me from holding office for four more years."

Her campaign manager, Chuck Coughlin, later pushed back against the rumor by referencing speculation in the early 1990s that Goddard, who is married and has a child, is gay.

"In no way is anyone suggesting that there is a problem with being gay, but it has a common lack of relevance to this race for Governor as the unfounded rumors being perpetuated by Goddard and his democrat operatives," he wrote on his firm's website. 

A day later, Coughlin wrote again, apologizing for the post.

"Our posting of 20 year old rumors, on a blog — no less, was meant to be an example of the extreme nature of such speculation. Pointing out this ridiculousness should in no way insinuate or imply anything further," he said.

A poll released Monday has Brewer three points ahead of Goddard — a substantial decline since the summer, when her lead was consistently above 19 points.

She has an 11-point lead among likely voters, the results show.


Gov. Barbour helps RGA rake in $31 million

There was a reason the Republican Governors Association delayed the release of its fundraising numbers — they were still counting the checks.

The committee announced Thursday it had raised a whopping $31 million in the third quarter. To put that in context, the Democratic Governors Association announced last week it raised $10 million in the same period.

Both committees are tasked with helping their party's nominees in gubernatorial contests. The RGA is headed by Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R), a former lobbyist noted for his fundraising prowess. The DGA is headed by first-term Delaware Gov. Jack Markell.

The RGA has now raised more than $59 million this cycle and ended September with $31.5 million cash on hand. Its Democratic counterpart has $13 million cash on hand.

The Republicans have set a goal of controlling 30 governorships after Election Day. To do that, the RGA will have to win 24 of the 37 gubernatorial elections taking place this year. Democrats control 19 of the governors' mansions up for grabs.


Independent groups post record spending in Calif. race for gov.

Expenditures by independent groups seeking to influence California's gubernatorial election broke records this cycle, according to the state's Fair Political Practices Commission

As of Oct. 11, a total of $20 million had been spent by more than 30 groups in support of Democrat Jerry Brown.

Republican Meg Whitman, meanwhile, saw only two groups spend a total of $1.3 million in her support. 

The three top independent contributors to Brown's campaign are the union-backed California Working Families for Jerry Brown, Concerned Educators for Jerry Brown, and Working Californians to Support Jerry Brown.

The last independent-expenditure record was set in 2006 when groups spent a total of $20 million on the race between Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger and Democrat Phil Angelides.

The state also holds the country's personal spending record because of this election — Whitman has spent a total of $119 million on the race, beating New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who spent $109 million on his 2009 reelection campaign.


RGA delays release of fundraising numbers as Dems trumpet third-quarter haul

The Republican Governors Association is holding off on releasing its third quarter fundraising numbers until next week, a spokesman said. The RGA's delay comes as the Democratic Governors Association announced Friday it had raised a "record" amount in the last quarter.

The DGA raised $10 million in the third quarter, its "third consecutive record-breaking quarter," according to a release. The committee now has $13 million cash on hand.

Moreover, independent groups the DGA supports — including Lone Star First in Texas, Building a Stronger Ohio and Bay State Future in Massachusetts — have an additional $3 million on hand.

In the second quarter, the DGA trailed its Republican counterpart in fundraising. It pulled in $9.1 million, which was less than half of what the RGA raised. The RGA raised $18.9 million in the second quarter, when it reported having some $40 million banked.

The DGA spent only $14 million in 2006.

The DGA's chairman said voters will have a clear "choice" in November. "In one, we will help middle class families continue to recover from this economic crisis. In the other, our country will revert to the same policies that caused this mess in the first place," Delaware Gov. Jack Markell (D) said in a statement.


Georgia Republican spent $100K for Palin rally

Delaware Republican Christine O'Donnell should check her campaign's bank statements before booking Sarah Palin for a campaign visit: It cost another female Republican candidate more than $100,000 to have a joint campaign rally with the former Alaska governor.

Georgia gubernatorial candidate Karen Handel's (R) camp paid an Ohio jet charter service some $92,000 and to fly Palin in for a joint rally in the days before the August primary runoff vote.

Handel also paid an additional $13,000 in expenses to the InterContinental Hotel in Buckhead for the event, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, which cited her state campaign finance reports. Her campaign committee reported being $28,000 in debt in the same report.

Handel went on to lose to former Rep. Nathan Deal (R-Ga.) by about 2,500 votes. 

Palin told Fox News host Sean Hannity on Wednesday that she would travel to Delaware on O'Donnell's behalf. "Yeah, absolutely,” she said. "I'm honored to, I'm excited about it."


Poll: Cuomo has large lead over 'loose cannon' Paladino

New York Democratic gubernatorial nominee Andrew Cuomo has a commanding 24-point lead over his Republican opponent Carl Paladino, according to a poll released Tuesday.

The Siena College poll of likely voters showed Cuomo, the state attorney general, leading the Buffalo-area businessman 56-32 percent. Fifty-nine percent of voters view Paladino unfavorably and 61 percent agree he "is a loose cannon, who doesn’t have the temperament to be governor."

Cuomo has an 11-point lead among independents and about twice as many Republicans back the Democrat than Democrats support the Republican: 25 percent to 12 percent.

“With four weeks until voters go to the polls, Cuomo remains in a very strong position to be elected New York’s next governor," pollster Steve Greenberg said. 

The results of the poll come after Paladino confronted a reporter at a campaign event late last month after suggesting his opponent had an extramarital affair. He told the reporter "I'll take you out." The Republican has declined to apologize for his actions.

Paladino's fiery nature, however, appeared to help him win the GOP primary over former Rep. Rick Lazio. During that campaign, he promised he would "take a baseball bat" to the state capital of Albany to help root out corruption and establishment interests. But he also found himself in trouble when it was revealed he has forwarded e-mails containing explicit content to work associates.

A Qunnipiac University poll of likely voters taken late last month and before the incident showed a tightening race: Cuomo only led Paladino 49-43 percent. 

Siena polled 636 likely New York voters between Oct. 3-4. The survey has a margin of error of 3.9 percentage points. 


Whitman, Brown spar over housekeeper controversy

A debate between California's gubernatorial candidates Saturday centered on the controversy surrounding GOP nominee Meg Whitman's illegal immigrant housekeeper.

Whitman blamed Democratic nominee Jerry Brown for sparking the controversy while Brown accused Whitman, the former CEO of eBay, of not taking responsibility for her actions, according to the Associated Press

"Don't run for governor if you can't stand up on your own two feet," Brown said at the event at Cal State-Fresno.

AP reporter Juliet Williams said on Twitter that the candidates had to be taken offstage after the debate got heated over the issue: "Sheer madness at #CAgov debate as candidates are taken offstage in the midst of heated exchange over maidgate."

Brown, the state attorney general, and Whitman had been locked in a close race to succeed Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) but the housekeeper controversey has forced Whitman into a defensive stance.

According to her account, she employed an illegal immigrant housekeeper named Nicky Diaz Santillan for nine years but did not know her legal status. They fired her in June 2009 after she admitted she was in the country illegally, Whitman admitted this week.

The housekeeper's lawyer has also argued that Whitman and her husband should have known her immigration status due to a Social Security Administration mailed to their house in 2003.

Polls show Brown with a narrow lead over Whitman one month away from Election Day.


RNC Chair Steele backs candidate supporters are deserting

Colorado gubernatorial candidate Dan Maes (R) has "nobody left" -- except for Michael Steele, chairman of the Republican National Committee.

Maes has been losing support from just about every one of his prominent backers since a story broke that he embellished his record as a police officer in Liberal, Kan.

Maes also had to pay a record fine for campaign finance violations.

Several former supporters called on him to quit the race and promised to write-in other Republicans' names on the ballot.

In September, state GOP Chairman Dick Wadhams said Maes "has nobody left."

Enter Steele, on his cross-country bus tour.

The RNC chairman was in the Denver suburbs Thursday night to rally Republicans.

"You have a chance now, despite all the crazy noise from primaries and all of that, to focus on the agenda," Steele told the crowd of roughly 150 Republicans. "And the question, very simply is: do you want a Democrat to run the state of Colorado or do you want a Republican to run the state of Colorado? And if you want a Republican, Dan Maes is your man."

Steele's endorsement came as a recent Pulse Opinion Research poll for Fox News found Maes getting just 15 percent of the vote in the three-way contest with Democrat John Hickenlooper and former Republican Rep. Tom Tancredo, who is running on the American Constitution Party line.

Maes' support is at less than half of what he had shortly after winning the GOP primary over former Rep. Scott McInnis in August. Still, Steele said he couldn't support Tancredo, despite his better odds of winning.

"Mr. Tancredo and I have known each other a long time. We've been through the wars together, and I understand he made a decision to go a different way," he said. "As chairman of the Republican Party, I support the Republican nominee, and I encourage every Republican in Colorado to stand with that nominee and to make sure that nominee has a chance to win."

Maes issued a statement Friday thanking Steele "for his leadership."


Ex-Rep. Lazio quits bid for N.Y. governor

Former Rep. Rick Lazio (R-N.Y.) has decided to bow out of New York's race for governor and cede the stage to real estate developer Carl Paladino (R) to face state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo (D) in November.

After being upset by Tea Party-backed Paladino in the GOP primary earlier this month, Lazio left open the possibility that he would run on the Conservative Party line in the general election creating a three-way race. 

But Lazio said Monday that if he were to remain in the race, it would make a Democratic victory in November more likely.   

“While my heart beckons me forward, my head tells me that my continued presence on the Conservative line would simply lead to the election of Andrew Cuomo and the continuation of an entrenched political machine,” Lazio said at a Monday news conference, according to Bloomberg news

Several new polls out last week showed Cuomo leading Paladino, but a Quinnipiac poll put the challenger within just 6 points of Cuomo.  

Even with polls suggesting a tight race, big name Republicans have steered clear of Paldino who has been criticized for emails he has forwarded. Paladino has said he is channeling voter anger in his race, vowing at a campaign stop to "take a bat" to Albany.