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The Executive Summary: Governors... Appoint and Shoot!
Edited by Maresa Strano
MADISON, Wisconsin: Following the December 14, 2012 school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, renewed calls for gun control were heard across the country. Earlier this week, the State Legislative Tracker looked at actions being considered by lawmakers. As a companion piece, here is a rundown of recent actions by governors.
New York's Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo has led the way for gun-control advocates, making new regulations his leading issue this year. Successfully pushing the Legislature to act, they quickly passed a tougher assault weapons ban that includes restrictions on ammunition and the sale of guns, as well as provisions to keep guns from the mentally ill who make threats. New York thus became first state to pass new laws after the tragedy.
Here are some of the other recent happenings:
- Connecticut: In response to the Newton shooting, Gov. Dan Malloy's (D) commission to review and recommend changes to state laws and policies will meet today for the first time. They have until March 15 to submit initial recommendations. According to Malloy's spokesman, Andrew Doba, the governor favors a ban on large-capacity magazines.
- Maryland: Last Friday, Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) detailed his gun-control package, which he has called his top legislative priority. Noted to be one of the most aggressive in the country, the plan would make it illegal for residents under 21 to purchase or own registered firearms or ammunition and require people who move to Maryland to register guns purchased in other states. Additionally, O'Malley has proposed a assault weapons ban, new licensing requirement, and expansion of reporting of mental health issues.
- Mississippi: Gov. Phil Bryant (R) took a defiant stand against new federal executive order gun regulations before they were signed, saying any such order “infringes our constitutional right to keep and bear arms” and is unconstitutional. Bryant has asked the Mississippi Legislature to “immediately pass legislation that would make any unconstitutional order by the President illegal to enforce in Mississippi by state or local law enforcement.”
- New Jersey: Taking a more restrained tone than other fellow Republican governors, Chris Christie created a bipartisan task force to study the issue of violence, seeking recommendations not only on gun control but other "antiviolence" measures as well. “If we are truly going to take an honest and candid assessment of violence and public safety, we have to look more deeply at the underlying causes of many acts of violence,” Christie explained. The governor has not opposed the state's current gun laws, which, he noted, are the second strictest in the nation after California.
- South Dakota: Gov. Dennis Daugaard (R) said he supports the state's current gun laws and will not seek to change them. Any plan to improve school safety, including allowing teachers and administrators to carry guns in schools, he said, should be developed by local school officials and law enforcement agencies.
- Texas: Following the unveiling of new federal gun control legislation, Gov. Rick Perry (R) criticized the "political left and their cohorts in the media" for their response to the Newton shooting, saying that it is not new laws that are needed but prayer. "As a free people, let us choose what kind of people we will be. Laws, the only redoubt of secularism, will not suffice. Let us all return to our places of worship and pray for help. Above all, let us pray for our children," he stated.
- See also: State executive official elections, 2013
As of January 16th, all state executives who won election in 2012 have been sworn in. While they settle into their new offices or terms, let us redirect our attention to what lies ahead in 2013.
There are three states holding state executive official elections in 2013 -- New Jersey, Virginia and Wisconsin. A total of six officials will be elected. The attention-grabbing positions up for election are Governor of New Jersey and Governor of Virginia. According to The Washington Post, they are among the top 5 races to watch in 2013.
|State Executive Official Elections Results in 2013|
|Office||Incumbent||Incumbent Party||Incumbent Running?||2013 Winner||Partisan switch?|
|Governor of New Jersey||Chris Christie||Republican||Yes||Chris Christie||No|
|Lieutenant Governor of New Jersey||Kim Guadagno||Republican||Yes||Kim Guadagno||No|
|Governor of Virginia||Bob McDonnell||Republican||No||Terry McAuliffe||Yes|
|Lieutenant Governor of Virginia||Bill Bolling||Republican||No||Ralph Northam||Yes|
|Attorney General of Virginia||Ken Cuccinelli||Republican||No||Mark Herring||Yes|
|Superintendent of Wisconsin||Tony Evers||Nonpartisan||Yes||Tony Evers||No|
The first state executive election in 2013 will take place in Wisconsin, where incumbent Wisconsin Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers is running for re-election. Unlike previous elections where multiple individuals filed to run, only one challenger, Republican state Representative Don Pridemore, submitted the necessary signatures required to appear on the ballot before the filing deadline passed on January 2, 2013., thus negating the need for the scheduled February 19, 2013 primary election. The two will instead face off in the general election on April 2, 2013.
State Executive Official Elections
| New Jersey • Virginia • Wisconsin|
|Candidates • News • Calendar|
The last six consecutive elected Virginia attorneys general both sought the governorship and stepped down early for campaign purposes, a tradition current attorney general and official Republican gubernatorial nominee Ken Cuccinelli does not plan to observe. Upon cementing his party's support for governor (he was the only Republican to file the necessary paperwork by the convention's January 13th deadline), Cuccinnelli stated publicly that he intended to serve the entirety of his current term as attorney general. The announcement elicited criticism from Democrats and outgoing incumbent Bob McDonnell, a Republican, who resigned the attorney general's post in February of 2009 before winning election as governor that November. Critics argue that absent this custom, the "full-time" demands of the attorney general's office cannot be met, and taxpayers deserve more than a part-time leader.
Another motive Virginia attorneys general running for governor have to escape double-duty is the fundraising disadvantage, since Virginia election law does not allow state officials running for state office to raise money for their campaigns during the General Assembly session. The session began this month and will run 46 days, ample time for presumptive Democratic nominee, former Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe, to gain an early edge in fundraising edge over Cuccinelli.
Gov. McDonnell is prevented by term limits from running for re-election in 2013.
So far, State Senator Barbara Buono is the only Democratic candidate to confirm a bid for Governor of New Jersey in 2013, when Republican incumbent Chris Christie is running for re-election. Buono’s campaign is off to a promising start, having already raised $250,000 as of early January. Since the 1977, New Jersey gubernatorial primary and general election candidates can qualify for a public funding program whereby candidates who raise a minimum amount of money are dispensed tax-generated funds, controlled by the state election law enforcement commission, in direct proportion to campaign donations given from the public. In 2013, the qualifying sum for primary gubernatorial candidates is $380,000. The purpose of the program is to lessen the influence of corporate contributions in elections.
In New Jersey, qualified candidates who choose to accept public funds may not spend more than $12.2 million on their gubernatorial campaigns. The maximum amount of public funds that any candidate may receive is $8.2 million. New Jersey employs a two-to-one matching program for qualified contributions. It is detailed in Title 19 Chapter 25 Sub Chapter 15 of the New Jersey State Statutes.
Utah Public Service Commission
Indiana Commissioner of Labor
Sean Keefer was appointed as the new Commissioner of the Indiana Department of Labor by Governor Mike Pence on January 14, 2013.  He returns to the Indiana Department of Labor where he previously served as Deputy Commissioner under the Daniels' administration.
Indiana Director of Agriculture
Indiana Director of Agriculture Joseph Kelsay announced on January 21 that he would be taking a position with Indianapolis based Dow AgroSciences. The decision comes after a December 2012 announcement that Kelsay would not be asked to stay on in his position in 2013.
Gov. Mike Pence named Gina Sheets as the new appointee for the position on January 17, ending her run as director of economic development and international trade for the Indiana Department of Agriculture. Some areas of focus for her new position that Sheets mentioned include making Indiana’s raw agricultural products more valuable, making more of an impact on the global market and supporting agriculture research and development in the state.Cite error: Invalid
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Kansas Secretary of Labor
On January 19, 2013, after about four months serving as interim Kansas Secretary of Labor, Gov. Sam Brownback (R) nominated Lana Gordon for permanent appointment to the state executive position. Brownback cited Gordon's swift transition into the leadership role and her focus on important issues such as "finding fraud and abuse within the unemployment system and... on improving the unemployment claimant process,” in explaining the promotion. Gordon’s appointment now awaits confirmation by the Kansas Senate.
Gordon served as a Republican member of the Kansas House of Representatives, representing the 52nd district from 2001 until her appointment to the department of labor by Brownback on September 20, 2012. That same day, Brownback ordered previous labor secretary Karin Brownlee to step down and named Gordon as interim head of the department. Kansas labor secretaries are selected by appointment rather than elected by the people; they serve at the pleasure of the sitting governor and are not subject to reappointment or term limits. It is an executive position in the Kansas state government, earning an annual salary in excess of $100,000.
This week in State Executive Trivia
While others have served as governor of a state and a territory, the only person to serve as governor of two different states was Sam Houston. Houston (born March 6, 1793 in Lexington, VA) ran away from home at the age of 16 and was adopted by a band of Cherokee Indians, whom he stayed with for three years. After a stint in the U.S. Army he became an attorney and was elected to Congress in 1823 and re-elected in 1825. When he was 34 he was elected the seventh Governor of Tennessee, an office which he abruptly resigned before heading for Arkansas. Entering Texas in 1832, he began a tumultuous career there, including terms as president of Texas and a return to Congress. Finally, in 1859, he was elected the seventh Governor of Texas, making him the first and only person to have served as governor of two states. Once again he did not serve his entire term, but was replaced by the lieutenant governor in 1861 after Houston refused to swear an oath of allegiance to the Confederate States of America. The details of his removal/resignation are disputed. Retiring to Huntsville the following year, he died July 26, 1863.
Recent news articles
- $6 million contract awarded to market Nevada health insurance exchange Jan 12
- Appointments in Hawaii fill vacant seats Jan 14
- Delaware lieutenant governor creates new advisory committee Jan 14
- Pennsylvania swears in newly elected Democratic state executive officials Jan 15
- Kansas Gov. Brownback set to deliver his third state of the state address Jan 15
- Seattle PI, "NY seals 1st state gun laws since Newtown massacre," January 15, 2013
- USA Today, "Where each state stands on gun-control legislation," January 14, 2013
- WGME 13, "Gov. Malloy's Newtown panel meets for 1st time," January 24, 2013
- Washington Post, "Maryland gun control: O’Malley details proposal for new restrictions," January 18, 2013
- Memphis Business Journal, "Mississippi Gov. Bryant wants state to ignore gun-control executive orders," January 17, 2013
- Asbury Park Press, "For Christie, a delicate dance on gun control," January 23, 2013
- New Jersey Spotlight, "The Politics of Gun Control: Christie Aims for the Center," January 18, 2013
- The Republic, "South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard says the state's gun control laws are in good shape," January 19, 2013
- Christian Post, "Texas Gov. Rick Perry Says Prayer, Not Gun Control, Key to Ending Violence," January 17, 2013
- The Washington Post, "The 5 best races of 2013," November 30, 2012
- Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, "Candidate List-Spring 2013 Elections," accessed January 2, 2013
- Green Bay Press Gazette, "State Superintendent Supreme Court Justice will face challenges," Accessed January 8, 2013
- WTAQ, "State public school superintendent candidates take jabs at each other," Accessed January 8, 2013
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- The Washington Times, "Va. AG Cuccinelli will defy tradition, stay on job while campaigning," January 14, 2013
- Washington Post.com, "Cuccinelli revved up to race McAuliffe for Virginia governor," January 4, 2012
- NJ.com, "Sen. Buono raises almost $250K in first month of campaigning," January 2, 2013
- New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission, "Press Release," June 19, 2012
- ‘’Utah Governor “Governor announces additional appointments, December 20, 2012
- ‘’Indiana Department of Labor “Commissioner of Labor” Accessed January 24, 2012
- Indiana Daily Student, "Governor-elect fills additional cabinet seats," January 10, 2013
- ‘’Hoosier Ag Today “Kelsay will not Continue as ISDA Director” Accessed January 24, 2013
- ‘’Inside Indiana Business “Kelseay to Join Dow AgroSciences” Accessed January 24, 2012
- ‘’JC online “Gina Sheets excited about new AG job” Accessed January 24, 2012
- Kansas City Infozine, "Governor Appoints Topekan State Labor Secretary," January 19, 2013
- The Witchita Eagle, "Kansas governor ousts labor secretary," September 21, 2012
- ‘’Texas State Library and Archives, “ Sam Houston,” accessed January 24, 2013
- ‘’Tennessee History, “ Sam Houston,” accessed January 24, 2013