The Curse Of The Low Information Voter – Part III
It’s About The Governance, Stupid
by Michael A. Maynard
October 22, 2014

Governance is the day to day management and administration of the public sector for the benefit of all the citizens. In today’s political environment, the idea and practice of good governance too often does not apply.

While I am a liberal/progressive Democrat and regularly bash and make fun of the foibles of Republicans, not all Republicans are evil money-grubbers and not all Democrats are saints. From 1969 to 1975, my home state of Massachusetts had Republican Francis Sargent as governor. The New York Times wrote about Mr. Sargent in his obituary.

Mr. Sargent was also known for his delicately middle-of-the-road approach to Boston’s busing strife and helped gain passage of a no-fault car insurance law. He backed public housing, environmental protections and a statute challenging the Vietnam War on legal grounds….

As Governor, he set a record by signing 1,000 new laws in 1971, and in 1972, he won a battle he called his own Vietnam: he helped defeat a plan for an ”inner belt” expressway in Boston.

But in his run for re-election during a sour economic period in 1974 he lost to his Democratic challenger, Michael S. Dukakis, and stayed out of the central fray of politics from then on, though he taught and wrote commentary in his later years.

Former Massachusetts Governor Francis Sargent

Former Massachusetts Governor Francis Sargent

Massachusetts elected Republican William Weld as governor in 1991. He won reelection in 1994 by the largest margin in Massachusetts history. Bill Weld was a social liberal and fiscal conservative. Here is Governor William Weld discussing his education reform initiatives:

When Bill Weld left the governor’s office in 1997 to become President Bill Clinton’s Ambassador to Mexico, he was replaced by Lieutenant Governor Paul Cellucci, also a fascal conservative and social liberal.

Paul Cellucci continued Bill Weld’s focus on education and reigning in government spending, while also addressing social issues.

Cellucci, in 1998, signed into law one of the toughest gun control measures in the United States. He was also known to take a conservative approach to crime. He supported Roe v. Wade and abortion rights, which did not always make him popular with the Catholic Church. When he was Lt. Governor, Cardinal Bernard Law uninvited him from speaking at the commencement of his alma mater, Hudson Catholic High School.

Cellucci appointed many women to high ranking positions, including Margaret H. Marshall as the first female Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. Marshall’s appointment marked the first time a woman headed a branch of government in Massachusetts history.

Try being a moderate Republican governor in the post Citizens United/Koch Brothers world of today. Try focusing on social welfare issues such as public education, public housing, environmental protections, and civil rights, like Sargent, Weld and Cellucci.The ubiquitous Nate Silver writes about this phenomenon:

So just a year ago, there were plenty of moderate Republican governors — most of them in liberal or moderate states, where they were often quite popular. Now there are almost none, save some borderline cases like Mr. Daniels and Mr. Herbert.

The unsurprising result is that Republicans now have a group of extremely unpopular governors — particularly Mr. Scott of Florida, Scott Walker of Wisconsin, John R. Kasich of Ohio and Paul R. LePage of Maine, all of whom have disapproval ratings exceeding 50 percent. Other Republican governors in crucial swing states like Michigan and Pennsylvania also have below-average ratings.

2014 Governor's Popularity

2014 Governor’s Popularity

All four of the governors mentioned by Silver are up for re-election. Governor Kasich has a wide lead, but the other three are in close races. All four are backed by the Koch Brothers and their political arm, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

Here is a supposed secret John Kasich video thanking the Koch Brothers for their support.

Ed Fitzgerald, Ohio’s Cuyahoga County executive said in an interview with Salon.com

I think there was a real effort to target Ohio from those that are not supportive of these kind of sustainable (energy) policies. I think we’re seeing the fruits of that. Mr. Steyer doesn’t have unlimited resources. He’ll have to make a decision on where he thinks he can make a strategic difference. I did think it was interesting that the Koch brothers came out in favor of this freeze and I thought that it was interesting that Gov. Kasich’s finance report, that we had a file of last Friday, showed David Koch personally contributed to his campaign the maximum amount you’re allowed to under Ohio law, so there’s definitely some national ramifications going on here.

Salon: Do you see other anti-climate, anti-renewable energy campaigns taking hold in Ohio?

I think that we’re being used a little bit as a lab rat. So I wouldn’t be surprised. Again, this is the second time we’ve seen the Koch brothers actually kind of interfere in Ohio politics. They made a major financial contribution to kill a local levy for, believe it or not, the Columbus Zoo. I think that in some ways, because Ohio is such a bellwether state, it’s used as a testing ground for these attempts by the right wing. So, I hope not, because, again, I think when the standards passed in 2008, that did not happen because a bunch of national interest groups that wanted us to do that came out. That kind of came organically out of Ohio. That’s not what we’re seeing here.

When Scott Walker first took office in Wisconsin, his Koch Brothers’ ties were confirmed by a prank phone call from The Daily Beast.

One of the big campaign points for all of these governors was job creation, especially Walker. His record is does not match his rhetoric.

Walker himself has acknowledged that he has fallen short on the jobs promise. On Aug. 28, 2014, Fox News Radio host Brian Kilmeade asked Walker : ” Would you admit that you didn’t reach your goal” of creating 250,000 jobs?

“Oh, there’s no doubt about it,” Walker responded.

In May 2014, as it became evident that there has not been a massive surge in private sector hiring, we moved the 250,000 jobs promise from In the Works to Stalled.

In the three months since that change, the number of private sector jobs has fallen by 900.

We’re moving this rating to Promise Broken.

Wisconsin Republican voter Ron Kaufman wrote recently in The Wisconsin State Journal:

I am a Republican, and I will not be voting for Gov. Scott Walker this November. He does not deserve my vote or another four years in office.

I voted for Walker four years ago with high hopes, but he has turned out to be one of the worst governors Wisconsin has ever had.

Given the private sector record of Rick Scott and his taking the Fifth Amendment 75 times during his company’s trial for Medicare and Tricare  (military health) fraud, what did Florida voters think they were getting when voting Scott in office? Someone focused on good governance?

Yes, Rich Scott is also in the pocket of the Koch Brothers.

Rich Scott also promised extensive job creation in Florida. Like Walker, the results don’t match his rhetoric.

His (Scott’s) office on Aug. 15, 2014, crowed about the state’s private businesses adding 620,300 jobs since December 2010. He also noted the unemployment rate, which is not vital to this particular promise, was down to 6.2 percent.

The Scott-O-Meter only counts jobs since Scott took office in January 2011, and is calculated using BLS numbers for seasonally adjusted, nonfarm work that includes changes in government employment. We put the total through July at 594,900, still short of the 700,000 goal. Actually, that should be the 1.7 million goal.

Scott’s original 7-7-7 plan promised to create 700,000 jobs in addition to the 1 million jobs state economists predicted Florida would add by 2017, with or without policy changes in Tallahassee. We’ve previously noted that for Scott to make good on his promise, Florida would need to create 20,238 jobs a month, every month, for 84 straight months. That’s happened only 11 times in Scott’s first 43 months in office….

Experts say it’s hard to tell how much influence a governor has on the job creation process, and it may take years to find out if policies have had any effect on job totals at all.

Scott is still a long way away from his stated target, but job creation does continue to climb. We continue to rate this promise In The Works.

The fourth, Paul LePage,  of Maine is considered the worst governor in the United States by the non-partisan The Citizens For Responsibility And Ethics In Washington (CREW).

CREW assessed the governors based on the following criteria:

Corruption: Has there been outright corruption? Did a governor violate state ethics laws or campaign finance laws, or did the governor use his or her position to influence the awarding of state contracts?

Transparency: Did a governor block access to records that state law deems discoverable? Similarly, did the governor oppose legislation to make public records more accessible or promote measures to make government less transparent? Finally, did the governor take steps to foil transparency, such as, for instance, using private e-mail accounts for public business?

Partisan politics: Did a governor appear to put partisan politics above the interests of the citizens of his or her state?

Pressuring public officials: Has a governor attempted to pressure or intimidate other state officials in an inappropriate manner?

Cronyism: Did a governor abuse his or her position to reward family, friends, or major donors with state employment or other benefits?

Self-enrichment: Did a governor use his or her position for personal financial enrichment?

Scandal: Was a governor involved in a personal scandal that clearly distracted from his or her ability to govern effectively?

Mismanagement: Did a governor fail to discharge his or her duties responsibly and in the public interest?

In its report, The Worst Governors In America, CREW states about LePage:

Augusta is a dangerous place for anyone who gets in the way of Gov. LePage’s ALEC-written agenda.

The first-term governor packed his administration with lobbyists and used his office to promote their environmental-deregulation agenda, and allegedly went so far as to fire a state employee who testified in favor of policies the administration opposed.

Gov. LePage also attempted to gut his state’s open records act, and is under investigation by the federal government for trying to bully employees of the state Department of Labor into deciding more cases in favor of business.

LePage is, shall we say, “unusual”.

The above does not include other Koch Brothers backed governor failures, like Sam Brownback of Kansas and Chris Christie of New Jersey.. Brownback followed the ALEC play book of reducing taxes on the rich and cutting social services, such as firing teachers and/or reducing teacher’s pensions, as did Walker and Christie. Brownback and Christie are facing record budget deficits, a sure sign of poor governance. Brownback is also up for re-election and he’s also in a tight race.

The policies are something straight out of dream play book of the more conservative side of the Republican Party. With help from a legislative body he helped attain, Kansas passed the largest income-tax cuts in state history. Medicaid has been handed over to private companies. Other measures have made it harder to get an abortion in the state.

But the tax cuts, which he went on television and called a “real, live experiment,” are what is causing the most ire across the aisle in Kansas. Brownback, who has in the past been mentioned as a possible 2016 candidate for president, argues his policies are working. But they are clearly causing a rift in Kansas — even among Republicans, some of who are lining up to endorse Democratic challenger and Kansas House Minority Leader Paul Davis.

Kansas’ budget, which has to be balanced each year by law, has serious revenue shortfalls. The state’s credit rating has been downgraded by two major ratings agencies — Moody’s and Standard and Poor’s. School funding is being stretched thin, and there are whispers of concerns in rural parts of the state that some will close entirely.

The question I have for the voters of these five states is WHAT THE BLEEP ARE YOU THINKING? These are five of most corrupt and worst governors in the United States. And you are going to vote them back into office?

Being a governor is not an easy job. As governor, you are responsible for managing the various state agencies, trying to work on initiatives with the legislature, balancing the budget, and creating jobs and economic growth, and satisfying the demands of the county and town officials, while being subservient to the whims of Washington DC, and the vagaries of the world, national and state economy. While promising job growth may get you voted into office, there is only so much that you can do to create new private sector jobs.

You were elected into office to promote and protect the welfare of your state’s citizens, not the Koch Brothers, no matter how much money they gave your election and promised other benefits. You were elected governor to provide governance, the managing of the affairs of your state. What you’ve done is violate the ethics and integrity of your state. You’ve put a sign on the statehouse “Everything’s For Sale”.

Despite being in office for only one term Kasich, Scott, Walker, LePage amd Brownback aren’t governing in the best interest of their state and never planned to do so. They lied about their intentions about what they would do if they were voted into office.

They are not worthy and deserving of your vote. Don’t make the same mistake twice. IT’S ABOUT THE GOVERNANCE, STUPID!

Columnist/Journalist/Writer/Book Editor Co-Founder/CEO of Azimuth Partners, high tech consulting firm for 30+ years. Former columnist for the Washington Post/Newsweek syndicate.

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