Republican Governors in Blue States Find a Way to Get Along
HAGERSTOWN, Md. — To keep the base happy, a group of governors has defended the federal health care law, signed brand-new gun control legislation along with stood up to President Trump when his words or policies aggrieved them. All are Republican.
In a year when congressional Republicans are clinging to the president like tomato vines to a trellis, Republican governors running for re-election inside heavily Democratic states of Maryland, Massachusetts, Vermont along with, to a lesser degree, Illinois have emerged as well-positioned incumbents who seem likely to survive an expected blue swell in November.
A crucial mix of bipartisanship — which stands in welcome contrast with Washington — aggressively mild temperaments along with gentle checks on liberal proclivities have kept moderates along with independents happy in their states.
“My answer to anybody who doesn’t like the direction our Republican Party is usually going is usually to elect not bad Republicans,” said Jud Ashman, the Democratic mayor of Gaithersburg, Md., inside deep blue suburbs of Washington, who supports the state’s Republican governor, Larry Hogan. “I may be the only elected Democrat who will endorse him, nevertheless I won’t be the only one to vote for him.”
As governor, Mr. Hogan promoted environmental protections for Chesapeake Bay, shored up the state’s insurance markets along with openly fought cancer as he worked. He recently pulled back his state’s National Guard troops coming from the border in protest of the administration’s policy of separating migrant children coming from their families. He lowered bridge tolls along with some taxes which pleased voters in his heavily taxed state. Almost half of his cabinet members are Democrats.
“I always did exactly what I said I’m going to do,” Mr. Hogan said in a recent interview here as we hid coming from rain under the slats of an under-construction opioid treatment center. “On every issue, I’ve never said, ‘What’s the Republican answer? What’s the Democratic answer?’ I listen to both sides. I don’t care whose idea This kind of is usually.”
Many current along with former elected Democrats inside state have shied coming from endorsing his opponent, Ben Jealous, a former head of the N.A.A.C.P. “Larry Hogan is usually just fine on all my core issues,” Mr. Ashman said. “He is usually pro-choice, pro-marriage equality, pro-gun safety along with has excelled at improving the business climate inside state.”
There are 36 governorships in play This kind of fall, many with Republicans on the defensive. The ones in Florida, Maine, Michigan, Nevada, brand-new Mexico along with Ohio — all currently held by retiring Republicans — are rated tossups or worse for the party.
In a year which is usually supposed to draw far more Democratic voters to the polls than the typical midterm election, Republicans in blue states will depend on the Democrats who helped them win inside first place, along with who might be tempted to split their tickets This kind of time. To woo them, most have signed on to policies which appeal to those voters.
Gov. Charlie Baker of Massachusetts, whose popularity in his state rivals which of fried clams, has worked closely with the Democrat-controlled legislature to raise the minimum wage along with create a paid family along with medical leave program. Gov. Phil Scott of Vermont has defended the Affordable Care Act, along with he has supported free trade in a state which does a lot of business with Canada.
While criticizing the president can be a political death sentence for most Republicans, This kind of is usually more of a life raft for governors in these states. Mr. Hogan was an early rejecter of Mr. Trump, along with Mr. Scott along with Mr. Baker have openly criticized the president’s policies. nevertheless all rated safe or nearly so by political strategists who study governors’ races.
“Three of the 5 most well-known governors are Republicans in blue states,” said Jennifer E. Duffy, senior editor for The Cook Political Report. “These are governors who have largely proven which they are more in sync with the voters in those states, along with what they want along with need, than what their party wants coming from them.”
These Republicans might be supposed to draw strong challenges coming from more conservative candidates, nevertheless a well-known governor is usually not a great target, along with Republican voters have largely overlooked any left-leaning proclivities their governors exhibit.
“I was a little disappointed when he pulled troops coming from the border,” said Krista Hudson, 50, an admirer of Mr. Trump who lives in This kind of rural stronghold of Mr. Hogan’s. “nevertheless I still support him. This kind of is usually a Democratic state, along with we have always felt ignored along with neglected, along with we just see him a lot down here.”
Nor have many Democrats stepped up to take on these well-known governors. “We should not neglect the fact which the Democrats running are pretty weak,” said Dan Payne, a Democratic strategist in Massachusetts, where a Democratic primary next month will determine who will take on Mr. Baker.
A possible exception is usually Illinois, where Gov. Bruce Rauner, a Republican, has adopted a largely combative stance against the state’s Democrats. At the same time, he has annoyed his own party so much with his moderate social positions along with budget woes which he barely survived a primary inside spring, inspiring a third-party bid coming from a conservative candidate.
“Bruce Rauner thought he could be Scott Walker when he got elected,” Thomas Bowen, a Democratic strategist along with former political director for Mayor Rahm Emanuel of Chicago, said, referring to the Republican governor of Wisconsin. “He forgot which Walker had a supermajority inside state legislature along with he did not.”
“There was a playbook for how to be a Republican in Illinois which’s been replayed over along with over,’’ Mr. Bowen said. “Be fiscally astute, compromise along with don’t pick fights unnecessarily.”
Mr. Rauner will face a formidable opponent in J. B. Pritzker, a billionaire venture capitalist the governor has spent most of his time criticizing, over his effort to get a reduction in property taxes on one of his homes, citing the mansion’s lack of working toilets.
In Maryland, Mr. Jealous prevailed in a tough primary for the right to take on Mr. Hogan, whose economic agenda he says leaves behind the middle along with lower classes. Mr. Jealous wants to expand worker benefits, work toward creating Maryland’s public colleges along with universities tuition-free, along with establish a Medicare-for-all system at the state level.
He is usually not dissuaded by the governor’s popularity. “We have seen This kind of before, which has a well-known incumbent governor which has a lot of money which ultimately ends which has a Democrat winning,” he said. ”Our job is usually to make a positive case for fully funding our schools, getting health care costs under control along with get the economy going again.” (Do not, as Mr. Hogan has, suggest he is usually a socialist, unless you don’t mind an R-rated response.)
nevertheless under Mr. Hogan, the state has gained tens of thousands of jobs, along with businesses along with residents welcomed the tax relief he pushed. “People do not want to go back in This kind of state to rampant tax increases,” said Anirban Basu, chief executive of the Sage Policy Group, an economics consulting firm in Baltimore. “Many Marylanders are keenly aware which tax-based growth is usually suppressed by the state’s high tax rates.”
Simply keeping their seats, however, does not guarantee a successful agenda for Republican governors. A Democratic surge This kind of year could put more of them inside state legislatures, bringing with them more resistance to the governor’s policies.
“This kind of is usually quite possible which Scott will get re-elected nevertheless Democrats will gain enough seats inside Legislature which they get veto- proof majority,” said Eric L. Davis, professor emeritus of political science at Middlebury College in Vermont, noting which Mr. Scott had made heavy use of his veto pen in his time as governor.
For all of Mr. Hogan’s successes, especially with the collaborative health care bill, he has also been stymied by Democrats. They overrode his veto of an education bill along with forced him to make significant compromises to get tax cuts along with transportation measures into law.
Mr. Hogan shrugs This kind of off. “I am mostly inside middle,” he said. “We have a lot more to get done.”