Thursday, May 22, 2008

The new governor: mayor

I just want to mention that governors are no longer politically cool. For a while, governors were the new senators: political experience plus executive experience. No crippling, embarrassing votes forced upon you by chamber rules (remember "I voted for [it] before I voted against it"?). Of course, governors have to work with state legislatures, but they connect with people and can have programs to which they can point. Governors have a bully pulpit, and aren't stained with living and working in Washington DC, something that Republicans have fooled Democrats into disliking.

Turns out, mayors are all that governors are, without the downside. They manage programs, closely and effectively -- they can cut crime, deal with immigration on a ground level, step into the marriage equality debate...on a very personal level. Because they govern a smaller territory, they can connect regularly with people in a close way, even if it's by biking around early in the morning. Of course, a mayor in Massachusetts, say, doesn't have a high political ceiling. Sure, Boston is a big city, but plenty of Massachusetts isn't Boston...much of which is hostile to the capital city. As a matter of fact, same is true in places such as Florida and Texas.

But in other places...a big city mayor can be a big deal. This includes three rising Democratic stars in red states:
  • Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich is polling even in his run for the Alaska Senate. I like this guy, and I think he joins Jon Tester as offering a model for Democrats as how to win in the red state. Give him some money.
  • Los Angeles Mayor is most likely to challenge Schwarzeneggar for the governorship of California. Not quite as interesting a guy to me -- very machine -- but a rarity in a Democratic state that doesn't seem to produce high-quality Democrats.
  • Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson. Not everyone's cup of tea, but a major Democrat in Utah?? Anderson shares some of my sensibilities: impatient with Kerry, impressed with results, not words. Plus, he stood up to the ridiculous DARE program, and the ridiculous President we have.

Plus, one to watch: Mike Fahey. Given Nebraska's intelligent electoral rules, he may become a significant figure in the upcoming presidential election.

Perennial favorite: Thomas Menino of Boston. He's not a "visionary", doesn't talk pretty, doesn't turn his post into a podium for Democratic causes. He runs the city efficiently, avoiding crises or major problems...he does what a mayor does. As a matter of fact, he's the rare Massachusetts politician who seems to enjoy his job.

No comments: