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The rise - and fall - of the rockstar Republican governors

Mar 14, 2016

Remember that time when there was just nothing better than being a Republican governor? When it was almost a given that the next Republican candidate for president would come from the current or former GOP Gubernatorial ranks?

How the mighty have been humbled

There was Scott Walker of Wisconsin, Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, Mike Huckabee of Arkansas, Rick Perry of Texas, Jeb Bush of Florida, Chris Christie of New Jersey.

Even Governor Rick Snyder, at this time last year, thought he had a case to make for a dark horse presidential bid. That crashed and burned amid a poorly worded statement on refugees, the Flint water crisis, the Detroit schools and a scathing investigation of the Grand Rapids veterans’ home.

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Now, the only Governor that remains in the 2016 race is Ohio’s John Kasich, battling it out with a reality TV star and two Republican Senators. Most political pundits agree that Kasich is toast if he doesn’t come in first in his home state’s primary tomorrow.

Back in time

It wasn’t that long ago that the idea of a Republican governor at the top of the presidential ticket in 2016 seemed all but certain.

There was the wave of GOP governors who won seats in Republican and Democratic states in 2010. And, in 2012, Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, former governor of dark blue Massachusetts, traveled the nation, urging voters to do for the country what GOP governors had done for their states.

Even as recently as last week, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder was still pushing for a governor in the White House.

“There are fewer of them today but my preference was always for a governor in some fashion because I believe they have the chief executive experience to do the best job.”

What comes next?

This is not how the Republican governors’ club saw things working out. But, quite frankly, not much during this presidential primary season could be fathomed.

There is a fight right now over who controls the Republican “brand.” Who really represents Republican ideas. Is it Donald Trump? Congressional leaders? Governors?

Not that the same battle isn’t going on among Democrats, just not with the same intensity.

The battle for ideas, the so-called “soul” of a party, tends to reach a fever pitch in presidential elections. And, come November, 12 gubernatorial seats will also be up for election: eight of which currently lean to Democrats; four to Republicans.

What lessons do these statehouse races offer, what do they portend, oh you governors?