America’s new governors, including Pa.’s Shapiro, are holding their own | Wednesday Morning Coffee
An analysis finds mostly clear sailing for chief execs elected in 2022. Though having your party in control of the Legislature helps
Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro delivers his first budget address to a joint session of the state House and Senate on March 7, 2023 (Photo by Amanda Mustard for the Pennsylvania Capital-Star).
A new analysis finds mostly clear sailing for America’s rookie governors — including Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro. But a lot depends on which party controls their state’s General Assembly.
That’s the bottom line from veteran political analyst Lou Jacobson, writing for Sabato’s Crystal Ball, who took stock of the new class of state chief executives elected during the 2022 midterm cycle.
While “nine rookie governors’ approval ratings run along a spectrum from passable to great, none is in dire straits politically,” Jacobson observed.
Six of the governors took office with unified party control of their respective state’s Legislatures, while three, including Shapiro, are working with a divided government, according to Jacobson. All three: Pennsylvania, Nevada, and Arizona, are 2024 battleground states, he observed.
A few of the new governors have “leveraged unified party control in their state to enact aggressive agendas, while others are building up their policy records more slowly, often because they have to work with opposition-party control of one or both legislative chambers,” he continued.
Shapiro, the former two-term state attorney general, romped to victory last November, beating Republican Doug Mastriano, a Donald Trump-endorsed state senator from Franklin County in the state’s vast red and rural middle.
Shapiro, also a former state lawmaker and Montgomery County commissioner, took office with a slender Democratic majority in the state House and a state Senate that remains firmly in Republican hands. Because of that division, he’s struck a largely conciliatory tone with the General Assembly.
A poll by the conservative Commonwealth Foundation, released in April, found Shapiro with high favorability ratings, though voters were concerned about the state’s direction, PennLive reported.
Those results track with a Morning Consult poll, also released last month, that found every governor in the country with favorables that outpolled their unfavorables. All told, 48 of 50 governors had favorables that outpaced their unfavorables by at least 8%, Jacobson wrote.
Just two of the nation’s 50 state governors, as Jacobson observed, were below that threshold — Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves, a Republican, with a 6% gap, and Democratic Oregon Gov. Tina Kotek, with a 3% gap, Jacobson wrote.
While Jacobson notes that legislative progress for Shapiro thus far has been slow (a reality complicated by the fact that the state House spent much of the first part of the year in a state of complete paralysis), he also observes that the Democrat hasn’t been shy about his using power to sign a series of executive orders, on matters ranging from state hiring policy to issues affecting older adults.
“Shapiro has also taken a visible role in several disasters, notably a major train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, located just across Pennsylvania’s western border,” Jacobson wrote. adding that political observers have said that “Shapiro’s governorship has won plaudits from both Democrats and Republicans.”
One of them, Muhlenberg College political analyst Christopher Borick, told Jacobson that, “Shapiro’s focus on improving the business environment in the commonwealth through more efficient and supportive regulations and administration has won bipartisan praise.”
Shapiro’s $44.4 billion budget proposal, delivered to a joint session of the state House and Senate in March “[received] some blowback from Republicans,” but “was more well received than what was seen” during the eight years of former Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf, Borick told Jacobson.
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