Are GOP Governors Tacking to The Middle?

Monday, 09 Jan 2012 10:25 AM

By Greg McDonald

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Many new Republican governors — many of whom entered office in 2010 pushing tea-party agendas — appear to be moderating their views as this year’s elections approach, according to a report Monday by Stateline.org. In some cases, governors are relaxing their conservative stands because of disputes with more middle-of-the-road Republican legislatures that did not agree with their hard line budget and tax cut proposals.
 
The Stateline report, part of the news and research organization’s annual State of the States publication, cited Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s problems with the state’s GOP legislature as an example. Scott proposed a budget shortly after entering office that cut property and corporate taxes by $4 billion, while at the same time cutting education funding, according to Stateline.
 
“But the plan didn’t sit well with Scott’s fellow Republicans, who control both chambers of the Florida legislature,” reported Stateline, an arm of the Pew Center on the States. “They largely ignored the governor’s budget and sent him their own — one with more money for schools and just a fraction of the tax cuts Scott demanded.”
 
“This year,” the Stateline reported noted, “Scott is taking a noticeably different approach. He has unveiled a second-year budget that provides $1 billion more for K-12 education.”
 
The report goes on to cite GOP governors in other states, including Wisconsin and Ohio — where angry reactions to new collective-bargaining laws have put the states’ chief executives on the defensive — as examples of conservatives who are now talking in more bipartisan tones.
 
The pressures on the Republican governors from within their own party have been significant. Some 6,000 of the nation’s 7,500 state legislative seats are up for grabs this year, according to Stateline.
 
The GOP now controls both the executive and legislative branches in 22 states. But Republican leaders are worried that could change in this year’s elections, given the angry mood of voters.
 
“The name of the game for Republicans is holding the gains they’ve got,” University of Minnesota political science professor Larry Jacobs told Stateline.

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