Quite a few very right-wing governors were elected in 2010, the tea party's Year Zero. A lot of them pushed through (or at least proposed) some very radical changes in their states. They were relentless in their desire to transform America, and they made a lot of headway. But at least we still live in a democracy -- right? If you go too far as an elected official, you alienate the public and destroy your chances at reelection -- right?
Well, maybe not in Florida, according to the Orlando Sentinel:
Rick Scott is no longer a long shot for re-electionYeah, he's still ten points behind Crist in that poll. But he's gaining ground. And it's not clear that Crist will be the Democratic candidate (the sentinel story says uncertainty about who's running on the Democratic side is freezing Democratic fund-raising, while Scott sits on a massive personal fortune).
When Rick Scott won a bruising battle for Florida's governorship three years ago, he inherited an economy in disarray. He ostracized allies with his stubborn streak, emboldened foes through his slash-and-burn budgeting and was dubbed by pollsters "America's least popular governor."
It's still a political eternity until the Republican former health-care CEO stands before voters again. But the crosswinds have shifted in ways that make his re-election in 2014 much less of a long shot than Tallahassee prognosticators once expected.
... there are growing signs that Scott ... will be a formidable contender next year.
As the national economic recovery has taken hold, Florida has seen its unemployment rate shrink -- from 10.9 percent when Scott took office to 7.1 percent in July, with 342,000 moved off the unemployment rolls -- though state economists attribute nearly half that reduction to people dropping out of the labor force. State revenue is up....
Republicans are banking on voters giving the governor full credit....
Democrats still outwardly sound like they're licking their chops, fed by the governor's still-low poll numbers. The July Quinnipiac Poll showed that 43 percent approved -- but 44 percent disapproved -- of his performance. But that's up nearly 10 points from his 2011 ratings....
The point is, Scott's reelection is possible. And elsewhere in in teabag-held territories, Scott Walker seems likely to win reelection in Wisconsin unless Russ Feingold is his opponent, in which case the race is a toss-up. John Kasich is favored to win reelection in Ohio. Rick Snyder has been struggling in Michigan, but his numbers went up around the time Detroit went bankrupt, and he's beating his most likely Democratic rival in one poll. Hell, even the nutjob in Maine, Paul Le Page, is running more or less even with his nearest rival in a three-way race. Of this crowd, only Pennsylvania's Tom Corbett seems to be doomed for 2014.
I bring this up because the teabag formula -- go radical early in your term, make big changes before opponents know what hit them -- is clearly the template for what a Republican president with a Republican Congress would do in 2017. And now we see that it's not political suicide.
At the national level, this means that the Republicans could usher in a Paul Ryan-style economic order in a blitzkrieg of first-year legislation, then possibly go on to be reelected. In the teabag states, once-skeptical moderates seem just to accept the new normal, while right-wingers cheer it on. Outrage is generated, but the left and center can't sustain it (whereas right-wing partisanship remains at a permanent fever pitch). If it happens nationally, we're in deep trouble.