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Friday, February 17, 2012

Why Governors Matter

Posted by on Fri, Feb 17, 2012 at 8:01 PM

Just days after Democratic Governor Chris Gregoire made history by joyfully signing Washington's marriage equality bill into law, Republican Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey cynically vetoed his state's gay marriage legislation, because, as one politics professor told Bloomberg News: "For someone who has national aspirations in the Republican party right now, I think there’s not much choice but to take this position."

And had Rob McKenna been governor at the time, you can be sure he would have vetoed Washington's gay marriage legislation too.

Don't kid yourself. For all his pretensions of moderation, if elected, McKenna will govern from the right. Because he has to. You see, McKenna has national aspirations too. If both he and Obama win in November, McKenna will be instantly catapulted into the ranks of GOP rising stars, a top tier candidate for the presidential nomination in 2016.

I kid you not. That's how these things work. A Republican wins the governor's mansion in reliably blue Washington for the first time in 32 years? Pundits and power brokers will take notice. And if McKenna wants to feed these fantasies, he has to cater to the national Republican base. Just like Christie.

And that means if McKenna is elected governor, whatever his personal beliefs and passions, gays, lesbians, women, minorities, immigrants, labor members, and everybody else Republicans consider to be the other, better watch out.


Comments (32) RSS

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very bad homo 1
We're getting close to a majority of people in this country that support gay rights. What then?
Posted by very bad homo on February 17, 2012 at 8:36 PM · Report this
The pretension here is yours - that being pro-gay marriage is the moderate position and that being against it is the extreme position. As we've seen at the ballot box every time it's come up, that's not the case.
Posted by Reader01 on February 17, 2012 at 8:43 PM · Report this
Goldy 3
@1: We have an overwhelming majority who already support birth control, but that still doesn't stop Republicans from attempting to limit access to it on behalf of their Christianist base.
Posted by Goldy on February 17, 2012 at 8:46 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 4
Why are the Republicans against our marriage laws?

Figures those reactionary apostates would hate traditional marriage of one person and another person ...
Posted by Will in Seattle on February 17, 2012 at 8:50 PM · Report this
Joe Szilagyi 5
@2 in the next 1 to 10 years when this changes, what will the story and appealing narrative to sucker in hapless social conservative voters to shore up the corporatists be changed to?
Posted by Joe Szilagyi on February 17, 2012 at 8:55 PM · Report this
lauramae 6
I wish Inslee would get his ass in gear and campaign. And if he doesn't want the job, step aside and let someone run who wants the job. The running commentary is about McKenna. Meanwhile Dems deal with their own version of Mittens.
Posted by lauramae on February 17, 2012 at 9:02 PM · Report this
1. you'll have to add Maryland to the positive examples of why governors matter.
2. Christie would eat McKenna if he crossed him in 2016.
Posted by Gidge on February 17, 2012 at 9:13 PM · Report this
@3 Goldy
The real question is whether their anti-birth-control agenda will help or hurt them in the next election.

They frequently try to find "wedge issues" that they can use to persuade a segment to get out and vote. The trick is to try to frame it as "the Liberals are attacking your X so you have to get out and vote to protect your X".

Playing the anti-birth-control issue (and stacking the discussion with Right wing bishops and such) is just an attempt at portraying Obama as someone who is attacking Christianity.

Which is why it would be good for the Liberals to get large groups of women to publicly oppose the bishops' opposition.
Posted by fairly.unbalanced on February 17, 2012 at 9:13 PM · Report this
Thank you for this post, Goldy!
Posted by EricaP on February 17, 2012 at 9:24 PM · Report this
lark 10
Did you read this about Scott Walker of Wisconsin?…

You're right, Governors matter.
Posted by lark on February 17, 2012 at 9:41 PM · Report this
Phoebe in Wallingford 11
If the referendum to overturn same sex marriage fails in November, then a Governor McKenna wouldn’t be able to anything except to advocate a constitutional amendment, which has a very slim chance of success, if it ever passed Congress in the first place.
Posted by Phoebe in Wallingford on February 17, 2012 at 9:41 PM · Report this
Fnarf 12
The idea of Rob McKenna as even a half-assed Rick Perry candidate for President makes my ass bleed.
Posted by Fnarf on February 17, 2012 at 9:42 PM · Report this
@11 but think about all of the other areas where he could still screw us over.
Posted by Gidge on February 17, 2012 at 10:07 PM · Report this
@12. He'd be a T-Paw. Probably nicknamed Rob-K. A pretty boring white guy, who'll be hyped for roughly a week. In a similar fashion he'll get credit for our state's economy coming back to life.
Posted by CbytheSea on February 17, 2012 at 10:17 PM · Report this
This is the smartest thing Goldy has written on Slog. The logic is unassailable. It is the most persuasive reason not to vote for McKenna.
Posted by Picaroooon on February 17, 2012 at 10:18 PM · Report this
Goldy, I think Rove has Jeb warming up in the bullpen for 2016. While he may be a Bush, he's counting on short memories and attention spans of the electorate as well as ES&S voting machines to pull it out. Rob-K may not be right wing enough nor down to earth enough for the dumber than dirt dominionist base of the republican party.

@6, good points
Posted by neo-realist on February 17, 2012 at 10:46 PM · Report this
McKenna has no chance of being a viable presidential candidate ever. The best he could aspire to is to be the next Slade, or maybe a seen but not heard VP candidate for someone.

He just doesn't have enough arena rock to him. Generally, to be a viable presidential candidate you need some mix of arena rock and smarts. Bush had enough smarts and a lot of arena rock. Obama and Clinton had both. Hillary had enough arena rock and a lot of smarts. Palin has a ton of arena rock but maybe it's still not enough to overcome her lack of book smarts.

Gore didn't have enough arena rock. Romney is like the Republican Mormon version of Gore, which is why his chances of winning don't seem that good to me.

Jeb Bush is a much better candidate than any of the candidates running this year. Indeed, none of the good candidates are running this year, because they know it will be an uphill battle and barring something unforeseen, Obama will be hard to beat. 2016 is where the action is.

Here's hoping the Dems can win this year and field a great candidate in 2016 too. We need at least 12 straight years of Democratic rule to turn around all the messed up stuff in this country.
Posted by j-lon on February 17, 2012 at 11:21 PM · Report this
I don't see how Inslee is a version of Mittens he has done a good job campaigning so far, in the last poll before this one he was down by only 3. i just think we are underestimating how likeable McKenna is and holding on to a Governor's mansion forever is not possible.
Posted by Democrat1234 on February 17, 2012 at 11:22 PM · Report this
the idiot formerly known as kk 19
Best post by Goldy on Slog I've ever read.
Posted by the idiot formerly known as kk on February 18, 2012 at 12:10 AM · Report this
DOUG. 20
McKenna is too ugly to be President.
Posted by DOUG. on February 18, 2012 at 12:26 AM · Report this
Supreme Ruler Of The Universe 21
Hard to say.

Since no one has come out in the Republican party -- except a few local and low level guys -- and said, fuck it, let the gay guys get married -- how could they know?

My own sense from being part of it is that today's Republican Party is somewhat of a Cargo Cult.

They remember the Good Olde Days of Reagan, and how it used to be -- and so they sort of imitate it in a ritualistic fashion...hoping that it will somehow bring them landslide victories. Yet it doesn't. Pretty much any candidate who seemed to have a national chance as a Republican went down the tubes as soon as he started to "model himself as Reagan".

Meanwhile the two guys who got elected since Reagan, Bush and Bush, were the most un-Reagan guys you could think of (and party regulars hated them!) and were sort of de facto social Liberals (GW increased free health clinics in America by 3x !!)

So, I think this is a case of where no one really knows what they are doing in the Republicans any more. That's the problem when you send all the intellectuals into the rice paddies. Things start getting a lot harder.
Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe on February 18, 2012 at 1:22 AM · Report this
Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe on February 18, 2012 at 1:28 AM · Report this
Supreme Ruler Of The Universe 23
We need at least 12 straight years of Democratic rule to turn around all the messed up stuff in this country.

If the Republicans can find a real -- real to the book -- republican to run, it would be the best thing this country ever did. But we really need a Nixon.
Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe on February 18, 2012 at 1:32 AM · Report this
Andy Niable 24
As usual, folks, it always comes down to turnout; No matter what "majority" supports what issue--it doesn't matter if those folks don't vote.
Posted by Andy Niable on February 18, 2012 at 2:15 AM · Report this
#6 I agree. The question for me is - where's Inslee? I'm not seeing anyone w/ a passion for Inslee as much as a passion for not McKenna.

Posted by M. Wells on February 18, 2012 at 5:35 AM · Report this
@3 I think it's great that the social conservative canditates are talking about restricting access to birth control. I don't know how many times conservative/Republican friends or co-workers have told me that when a candidate expresses some extreme social conservative viewpoint that "they're just saying it to get elected" or "that will never really happen". Proposing restrictions on access would hit close to home for a lot of people and maybe wake them up to realize what the social conservative agenda really is. I think that if it was looking likely that birth control were to be restricted that the population of the US would not put up with it. Thanks to being able to plan when, if or how often one bears offspring, men and women have been able to pursue education, careers and other things that have improved their personal circumstances more than they would have been able to if nature took it's course. Let's face it, in the history of the human race, great numbers of people have never really abstained, so reliable "artificial" birth control has truly been an advance.
Posted by WestSeven on February 18, 2012 at 5:45 AM · Report this
Cato the Younger Younger 27
McKenna is in this race to win. So you can't fault McKenna for doing what politicians are supposed to do...WIN ELECTIONS.

Where in the fuck is Jay Inslee?
Posted by Cato the Younger Younger on February 18, 2012 at 7:37 AM · Report this
One should be open to the possibility that these politicians actually believe in their positions. To do otherwise is to 0.)underestimate their possible tenacity and 1.)indulge in the assumption of bad faith.

The latter, in particular, is bad because it destroys the possibility of discourse---how can you even discuss moderate patching of our insurance system if you believe it to be just a cover for guillotining priests? The assumption of bad faith is also an invitation to become intellectually lazy, to assume that no sane. rational. at-heart-decent person could believe otherwise than oneself, and any appearance that this might be so is just the mask of an opposed to a tiny suggestion that you could just possibly be wrong.
Posted by Gerald Fnord on February 18, 2012 at 7:50 AM · Report this
I believe Representative Inslee is back in D.C. - you know, doing the job his constituency elected him to do.

Which, is of course a problem for candidates in situations like this; the one who serves in-state has a definite advantage over the one who serves in D.C., since it's much easier for them to hit the hustings at the local level.

At the same time though, it's a generally held belief that most voters don't really start paying all that much attention to local races this early in the election cycle, when national races tend to dominate.

As for the poll numbers, well, considering the minutely small sample sizes (e.g. the most recent one, done by SurveyUSA, contacted a mere 572 registered voters in WA), and given the usual 4-5% margins, Inslee's numbers don't look nearly as bad as McKenna's camp would like people to believe.

We're still a long ways out from November, and so far McKenna has been running pretty much on name-recognition alone. As I said previously, once voters have an opportunity to really compare the two candidates' positions side-by-side, I think the numbers will change dramatically going forward.
Posted by COMTE on February 18, 2012 at 10:27 AM · Report this
Free Lunch 30
Right on target, Goldy.

I agree with @20 - he's hideous. Lieberman couldn't be president for the same reason, what with those flapping wattles.

There is hope that all of this overt extremism will result in such a routing in upcoming elections that Republicans will realize their race to the bottom isn't working. But, no - they'd just assume they weren't extreme enough, and double down.
Posted by Free Lunch on February 18, 2012 at 11:47 AM · Report this
too bad the democrats forgot that they were supposed to represent a constituency the past who knows how many years. this state is going to get tea.bagged.
Posted by philosophy school dropout on February 18, 2012 at 5:11 PM · Report this
Westlake, son! 32
Preach it!

Goldy nailed this one.
Posted by Westlake, son! on February 19, 2012 at 5:11 PM · Report this

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