Saturday, March 8, 2014
Just about every political organization or candidate is attempting to get traction out of the partial shutdown of the federal government. Whether it's the Maine Democratic Party ripping U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, for vocally opposing the shutdown while voting against a measure designed to prevent it, or the Maine Republican Party attempting to cast U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, D-Maine, as voting against veterans, political operatives are using the stalemate to fundraise and drive public opinion.
The Republican Governors Association is taking a more -- uh, um -- nuanced approach. It has rolled out an advertising campaign dubbed the "American Comeback" in which Republican governors are cast as the anti-Congress. That is, they get stuff done.
Some news outlets have described the ads as a not-so subtle rebuke of the tea party Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives who have pushed the shutdown strategy. Lousiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, chairman of the RGA, has predictably steered clear of assigning the blame of the shutdown to House Republicans (Other Republicans, and the public, have not been so charitable.)
Nonetheless, the RGA is pushing a narrative that Republican governors can work with their Democratic counterparts to push major reforms in the states. Jindal has said that the RGA plans to feature all 30 Republican governors in future ads.
Gov. Paul LePage can certainly make the claim of getting stuff done, particularly when he had a Republican majority in the Legislature during his first two years in office. But with a budget battle with the Democratic-controlled Legislature looming in 2014 -- not to mention LePage's own prediction for gridlock and how close Maine came to a state shutdown -- the governor may find it difficult to echo the RGA's pitch.
Steve Mistler covers politics and government for the Portland Press Herald. He spends a lot of time in the hallways of the State House.