November 5, 2014

The Real Story Might Be GOP Governor Wins

Taking a look at three key races in Wisconsin, Kansas and Connecticut.

The governing styles of three Republican gubernatorial candidates in Wisconsin, Kansas and Connecticut have major implications for the GOP’s agenda for the 2016 presidential election. The three races we consider are Scott Walker’s, Sam Brownback’s and former Ambassador Tom Foley’s. In the end, the real story of Election Day 2014 might be the wins Republicans secured in the state house.

Gov. Scott Walker, a likely 2016 presidential contender, is arguably the most admired Republican governor among party members of all stripes for his exemplary governing of a blue state while simultaneously successfully fighting off multiple assaults by the entire Wisconsin Democrat party.

After inheriting a massive deficit from his Democrat predecessor, Walker now has the state nearly $1 billion in the black. He cut taxes by more than $2 billion, spurring an economic revival that reduced unemployment from 7.7% to 5.5% and raised per capita income by 9%. Confidence in the state’s economy among employers skyrocketed.

Perhaps more than anything else though, he won the respect and admiration of decent Americans for his stalwart stand against the massive barrage of every dirty trick in the Democrat playbook, including false charges of campaign financing violations by Democrat district attorneys, all of which were summarily tossed out of court. Walker’s third win in four years only solidifies his 2016 presidential résumé.

Gov. Sam Brownback of Kansas likewise governed as a fiscal conservative, although his opponents were often those in his own party. He wants to reform Kansas’ economy and winnow down its unfunded liabilities. His most controversial act involved cutting the state’s personal income tax by nearly half, one of the largest tax cuts in the state’s history. He also rejected the feds’ money meant for setting up an exchange under ObamaCare. His efforts angered a number of “moderate” Republican lawmakers, and as payback, they stymied several of his other agenda items.

In fact, a number of “moderate Republicans” were so angry with Brownback that they formed a group named “Republicans for Davis,” his far-left Democrat challenger in yesterday’s election. The group grew to 104 members, 53 of whom are former legislators, including 37 who’ve long been out of office, but all are still politically active in the party. That 104 “Republicans” would do their best to replace a Republican with a far-left governor might indicate that Brownback lacks some negotiating skills, but it speaks volumes more about those Republicans.

Brownback’s win undermines the Leftmedia narrative of a repudiation of his conservative fiscal policies. In fact, a large percentage of conservatives and their allies see his work as a giant step in the right direction, and Kansas voters gave him a second term.

Finally, we consider the race for governor of Connecticut between progressive incumbent Dannel Malloy and challenger Tom Foley, which Foley appears to have lost.

Interestingly, the leftist Daily Beast couldn’t figure out why the race was so tight. “Dan Malloy is progressives’ dream governor. So why isn’t he winning?” the rag wondered.

Malloy is indeed the Left’s ideal leftist. His many “accomplishments” include preventing state employee layoffs, raising the minimum wage, enacting mandatory paid sick leave, creating easy ballot access (i.e., no ID required), expanding “transgender” “rights” (including the right to use restrooms designated as the “gender” with which, uh, he/she/? identifies), spending gobs of money and taxing the rich. He even signed some of the worst gun control measures in the nation. What more could you want?

Perhaps what made Tom Foley attractive is his impressive background in both the private and public sectors. He began working for a large finance company before striking out on his own. He started his own company and bought and sold others in manufacturing, textiles and aircraft. He worked briefly in Iraq as Director of Private Sector Development for the Provisional Coalition, and for his work was awarded the DoD’s Distinguished Public Service Award. He also served as ambassador to Ireland.

This campaign against Malloy is Foley’s second. In 2010 they faced off in another very tight race, but when all the ballots were counted, Malloy won by a very slim margin – always suspicious in a blue state. It’s unfortunate that history seems to have repeated, despite the Republican wave nearly sweeping Malloy away.

These three races don’t count impressive GOP governorship wins in Illinois, Maryland and Massachusetts, or Rick Scott defending his seat in Florida. The wave was a big one, indeed. And since states are so critical for policy, Republican victories nationwide may prove of greater consequence than even winning the Senate.

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