With an unpopular administration in Washington, D.C., that increasingly promotes more federal regulations, higher taxes, and woke educational policies, a major shift in U.S. political power has moved to the individual states led by a new generation of effective governors.
Since most of the push-back is coming from conservative governors, it is no surprise that voters are electing more Republican governors and state legislators.
The list of stand-out Republican governors is perhaps historically large, and includes Ron DeSantis (Florida), Glenn Youngkin (Virginia), Kim Reynolds (Iowa), Jim Justice (West Virginia), Greg Abbott (Texas), Mike DeWine (Ohio), Kristi Noem (South Dakota), Doug Burgum (North Dakota), Brian Kemp (Georgia), Sarah Huckabee Sanders (Arkansas), Chris Sununu (New Hampshire), Phil Scott (Vermont), Mark Gordon (Wyoming) and Greg Gianforte (Montana).
Two of them are running for president in 2024 (DeSantis and Burgum); one is retiring to run for the U.S. Senate next year (Justice); one is retiring (Sununu); and one is term-limited in 2025 (Youngkin) — but each of them presides over a state government that generally follows more conservative policies than current progressive-radical federal policies.
Governor Burgum’s nascent presidential campaign is likely to end soon, but Governor DeSantis remains the principal opponent to GOP frontrunner Donald Trump. Not all of the other governors are supporters of the former president. Governors Kemp and Sununu particularly have been critical of Mr. Trump.
Although he is in the midst of an important off-year battle for control of the state legislature in Virginia, some Republican strategists are urging Governor Youngkin to make a late entry into the presidential race after November.
Each of the above-named governors remains popular in their home state — states which are prospering under mostly conservative economic and social policies.
Not surprisingly, there are far fewer especially popular and successful Democratic governors. Most of them are more moderate figures in more moderate or conservative states, and include Governors Josh Shapiro (Pennsylvania), Jared Polis (Colorado), Andy Beshear (Kentucky), Michelle Lujan Grisham (New Mexico), and Wes Moore (Maryland). Beshear, who leads an otherwise Republican state, is facing a serious Republican opponent in this year’s gubernatorial election in Kentucky.
Several prominent Democrat governors in heavily liberal states are struggling with radical policies which are causing a massive flight of businesses and individuals to other states. These include Governors Gavin Newsom (California), J.B. Pritzker (Illinois), Kathy Hochul (New York), Tim Walz (Minnesota), Katie Hobbs (Arizona), and Tony Evers (Wisconsin).
Governors Newsom and Pritzker are known to have presidential ambitions, but if they run in 2024 or 2028, they will have to defend their failing policies of heavy regulations and high taxes which have caused the exodus from their states.
The flight of individuals and corporations from liberal states with progressive governors to low-tax, low-regulation conservative states is powerful evidence of the recent political and economic shift in contemporary American life.
The political map of the U.S. shows large areas of red (Republican), and mostly isolated patches of blue (Democrat) in urban areas. But even the latter areas are changing as retail stores close up their outlets in urban downtowns (due to unprosecuted, out-of-control theft; widespread public homelessness; and increasing numbers of illegal immigrants resulting from the Biden administration’s southern border policy.
The ongoing flood of migrants has become a serious issue in Chicago and New York City, traditionally very liberal-progressive cities. Meanwhile, crime is proving disastrous to several large U.S. cities, particularly on the West Coast.
An election to watch this year is the one in Virginia. In recent years, Virginia has been a blue state both in national and state elections, but in 2021 Governor Youngkin, a Republican, headlined a GOP sweep of the state’s top three elected positions, along with the House of Delegates, and now seeks to repeat that sweep in this year’s state legislative races by holding the House and leading Republicans to retake the state Senate. His success in 2021 was all the more remarkable because so many Democrats who work for the federal government in the adjoining District of Columbia reside and vote in Virginia, and had proved to be the difference in previous elections.
A follow-through win for conservatives in Virginia this November would be a heavy reinforcement of the DC-to-the-states political shift — and a powerful signal for the national elections next year.