Is 2011 the year for Republican governors?

The Miami HeraldMarch 14, 2011 

It may be a bigger threat to President Barack Obama than Romney, Palin or Gingrich — a crew by the name of Christie, Scott and Walker that is slashing budgets, undercutting the new health care law and picking fights with unions.

Call 2011 the year of the Republican governor.

Newly elected officials such as New Jersey’s Chris Christie, Florida’s Rick Scott and Wisconsin’s Scott Walker are exerting power in dramatic ways and jumping over each other for a share of the national spotlight.

“Keeping up with the Christies,” chided the New York Times editorial page when Scott rejected $2.4 billion in federal funding for high-speed rail.

With more Republican legislatures behind them than any time since 1952, the governors are successfully pushing a conservative, anti-Obama agenda just as the president prepares for his re-election campaign.

“They are more important than Congress right now,” said U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C. “The more they push back, the better chance we have at cutting back the role of the federal government.”

Republicans now control 29 governor’s mansions, a gain of seven since 2009, and have taken a majority of the swing voter states from Democrats, including Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, Iowa and New Mexico.

The challenge for Obama runs to Florida, too, where Alex Sink barely lost the race for governor, the best hope for Democrats in a long time. Now, Scott has a megaphone that he uses nearly daily to oppose Obama’s policies.

The governors say the November midterm elections, where voters sided overwhelmingly with Republicans, were a mandate to tackle spending and improve the business climate in their states through less regulation and taxes.

When one steps out, it encourages the others. Together they are supplanting Congress and the crop of Republican presidential hopefuls as the primary check on the White House.

“They are doing what they were elected to do — tackle tough problems by taking bold action to place their states on a path for a stronger future,” said former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

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