This article originally provided by
The Washington Post
Aug. 6, 2006
Governors' Groups Tops in Raising Cash
By ROBERT TANNER
The Associated Press
CHARLESTON, S.C. -- The curtain is about to rise on one of the most
competitive national seasons for governors races in years, and the money to
finance it is already pouring into campaign coffers.
With tight elections in many of the most critical states, governors'
political groups are leading all other similar organizations in cash raised so
The annual summer meeting of the National Governors Association captures the
governors' tricky balancing act _ while days are focused on policy, such as
health care and education, the governors who gathered here Saturday started
their day split into partisan camps to review strategies and the latest polls.
"The elections are a point of major discussion," said this year's host
governor, Republican Mark Sanford. "'What you hear and how you doing?' Compare
and contrast, that sort of thing."
There are 36 gubernatorial contests to be decided this fall, livened by the
handful of governors who are looking to compete for the White House in two
An analysis of the latest fundraising by the Democratic Governors Association
and the Republican Governors Association showed they were the top groups
structured as a 527 _ named for a tax code provision that became a well-used
loophole in campaign finance reform, allowing unlimited soft money
The Republican Governors Association reported $25.9 million raised so far in
the two-year 2006 election cycle. Roughly $12 million of that was raised this
year alone, RGA officials say. The Democratic Governors Association reported
$17.9 million raised, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a
nonpartisan watchdog group in Washington that tracks campaign financing.
Their totals outpace all other similar fundraising groups, including the
$15.6 million raised by the Service Employees International Union and $11.6
million raised by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal
Among the contested races:
_Ohio: A critical swing state for the White House features an open seat where
polls show Democrat Ted Strickland ahead of Republican Kenneth Blackwell.
President Bush visited last week to help raise $1.5 million.
_Pennsylvania: Incumbent Ed Rendell, a Democrat, is being challenged by
former Pittsburgh Steelers star Lynn Swann, who is carrying GOP hopes for an
_Florida: Another open seat since Gov. Jeb Bush is term-limited, and both
parties are in vigorous primaries. Voters will narrow the choices to two in
Races are also heating up in Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, Wisconsin, Michigan
Nationally, Republicans hold 28 governorships to the Democrats' 22.
Republicans have to defend 22 executive mansions compared to 14 held by
Democrats. When it comes to vacant seats, Republicans are trying to hold onto
seven offices compared to just one for the Democrats.
"It's a real critical year," said Republican Gov. Mike Huckabee of Arkansas,
who is term-limited and exploring a presidential run.
Democrats, who lost the majority of governorships in 1994, are counting on
widespread dissatisfaction with GOP control in Washington to boost the odds in
their favor even more. A network of strong governors can boost presidential
campaigns and shape domestic policy _ and develop a farm team for higher office.
"I think it's going to be a very good year for Democratic governorships,"
said Arizona's Gov. Janet Napolitano, a Democrat. "It's very probable, if not
sheer likely, that the Democrats will be a majority.
"Next to the presidency, control of the statehouse and the governorships has
the most impact on people."
Republicans don't dispute the odds.
"The polls would suggest we'd lose six to eight governorships this year,"
said Massachusetts' Gov. Mitt Romney, head of the RGA, who is not seeking
re-election and is exploring a presidential run. "The math is not good for us."
But he said he's confident the group will pick up several seats now held by
Democrats to limit the losses.
For Romney, like several others, the visit to South Carolina _ an early stop
on the presidential primary trail _ provides an opportunity to prepare for 2008.
New York's Gov. George Pataki, also eyeing a White House bid, held a small
networking session Friday with former South Carolina Gov. David Beasley and
planned to swing to the other side of the state to meet voters on Sunday.
Democrat Tom Vilsack of Iowa went stumping with a Democratic state senator
challenging Sanford on Friday.
But that's long-term planning. This summer's all about gubernatorial
The governors' political groups aim to provide resources and cash in the
closest or most important races. "We don't offer campaign advice or strategies,
we provide funding," Romney said.
They'll need it. In 2002, the last time voters in 36 states chose governors,
the campaigns overall raised $861 million, according to the National Institute
on Money in State Politics.
© 2006 The Associated Press