Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Those other elections

Maybe it's just me, but the real races to watch?

Governor races.

Right now, 28 states have Republican governors. That includes those bastions of liberalism, those bluest of blue states California, New York, and Massachusetts.

But with this election, it's quite possible that Democrats will reclaim the governors' offices in the majority of states...

...and that's important for the future thrust of shifting the national debate.

Governor's races generally do not get as much attention as the contests for control of the House and Senate.

Yet a state's top politician has a much more immediate impact on a person's day-to-day life than congressional representatives, affecting schools, roads, even the companies that set up shop in a city or town.

Governors also craft domestic policy on health care, welfare, education and more. It was governors, for instance, who led the charge for welfare reform in the mid-1990s.

Political parties see the national implications, with strategists arguing that an effective governor can help organize and promote the state party, which in turn can help deliver votes for Congress and the presidency. And governorships can cultivate future national leaders, with four out of the last five presidents having first served as governor.

Like Tip O'Neill said, "All politics is local." And for the first time in over 10 years, the locals may be tipping to the left.