DGA Head Admits Odds Are Tough for Davis in Texas

DGA Head Admits Odds Are Tough for Davis in Texas
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Democratic Governors Association Chairman Peter Shumlin, saying his organization's members are "on offense," predicted Tuesday morning that several Republican incumbents will be defeated this November. However, he also provided a bleak assessment of Democratic gubernatorial chances in several states -- including Texas. 

“This is the referendum on the Tea Party governors that got elected four years ago,” asserted the Vermont governor, who spoke to reporters at a breakfast hosted by the centrist think tank Third Way. 

Shumlin listed Maine, Pennsylvania, and Florida as states where the DGA has “very high hopes” of defeating Republicans. He added that Democrats have “good shots” in Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin.  Shumlin also offered Georgia, South Carolina, Kansas, and Arizona as red states that the DGA is “optimistic” about Democrats’ chances in. 

Though he predicted Democrat Jason Carter will be elected governor of Georgia this year, Shumlin was notably pessimistic about Texas turning blue in November. 

“We’re hopeful in Texas, but we’ll be candid about the fact that we all understand Democrats haven’t won Texas in a long time,” he said. The gubernatorial race there attracted national attention in recent months, as Democratic state Sen. Wendy Davis posted strong fundraising numbers but also came under fire for discrepancies in her biography and questions about some of her political positions. (Republican Greg Abbott currently has a 12.3 percentage point lead over Davis in the RCP polling average.)

Later, Shumlin conceded that he does not expect his party to win gubernatorial races in New Mexico or Nevada. “I wish that we could spend money for Democrats in all 50 states,” he lamented. “My job is not to promote governors’ races in states where we can’t win.” 

Despite that pessimism over a few Western states, Shumlin argued that Republicans will be fighting an uphill battle this year. He said Democrats will run against Republicans’ opposition to the Affordable Care Act, support for budget cuts and restrictions on abortion, among other GOP policies:

“We’re on offense because these Republicans governors have uniformly implemented policies that have rewarded the top 1 percent while they have balanced budgets and cut taxes for the rich by slashing education for their states across the board and, really, sticking it to the middle class.” 

He argued that Democratic governors would not be as closely associated with the passage of Obamacare as their fellow party members in Congress. Conversely, he suggested that the governors who are “going to get punished” over health care reform are “the ones who are denying their residents affordable, quality health care because they want to make a political point.” 

As RCP has previously reported, Democrats have long seen this year’s gubernatorial races as a potential bright spot in an otherwise inhospitable electoral climate.  Asked why Democrats are expected to perform well in those races but could still lose control of the Senate, Shumlin responded, “I got to tell you, I’m not an expert on what goes on in Congress. I don’t think that much about it.” 

“I have to be one of the rare people in this earth who would be so frustrated in Congress that I would probably jump out of the highest windows I could find,” he joked. “If I’m not making a difference and things aren’t happening, I don’t want the job.” 

UPDATE: RGA spokesman Jon Thompson told RCP in a statement, "While Democrat governors continue to raise taxes, increase spending, and waste hardworking taxpayers’ money on failed ObamaCare exchanges in their states, Republican governors are cutting taxes, lowering spending, balancing budgets, reforming education and driving the American Comeback. As Chairman of the DGA, Peter Shumlin fully admitted Democrats have no chance of victory in states like Nevada and New Mexico, two states President Obama won twice, while abandoning Wendy Davis in Texas. As election day draws closer, look for Shumlin and the DGA to throw more of their candidates overboard as they realize their limited resources are unable to rescue their unelectable candidates.” 

Adam O'Neal is a political reporter for RealClearPolitics. He can be reached at aoneal@realclearpolitics.com. Follow him on Twitter @RealClearAdam.

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