For the second time in four years, our own Bill Haslam has been elected by his fellow Governors to serve as the Chairman of the Republican Governors’ Association (RGA).
“Governor Bill Haslam is a proven conservative leader, and with his record of getting results for the people of Tennessee, I’m confident that his capable leadership and tireless work ethic will greatly benefit the RGA in 2018,” outgoing RGA Chairman Governor Scott Walker said in a statement released Thursday.
“The achievements Governor Haslam has made in Tennessee are enormously impressive, and his experience providing common sense, pro-growth policies will be vital to ensuring our governors have the resources they need to compete and win in 36 gubernatorial elections scheduled to occur over the next year. It has been an honor to serve with him on the RGA’s Executive Committee for this past year and I look forward to the success he will achieve in 2018 as Chairman of the RGA,” Walker said.
Nebraska’s Governor Pete Ricketts was named Vice-Chair.
“Governor Pete Ricketts’ capable leadership will be a major asset to the RGA’s efforts in the upcoming year,” Governor Walker said. “He has been a tireless advocate for the people of Nebraska, working every day to improve the lives of his constituents, and that is exactly the kind of determination the RGA expects from its members. Governor Ricketts’ determination and experience will be integral to the success of our governors and candidates in 2018.”
Governor Haslam reacted to the news saying:
As recent elections have shown, the RGA is the most effective political organization in the country and I am honored to serve as the RGA Chairman for 2018. I look forward to building on the RGA’s success in 2018, which present numerous opportunities to re-elect our incumbents and elect a new class of Republican governors. All across America, Republican chief executives are proving that they are America’s doers, getting real results for everyday Americans through pro-growth, pro-jobs policies that expand opportunity, and I am proud to serve in this role to help the RGA elect more outstanding leaders.
However, the New York Times‘ Johnathon Martin and Alexander Burns were at the RGA conference in Austin and noticed an almost dour atmosphere permeated the usually upbeat event:
For nearly a decade, meetings of the Republican Governors Association were buoyant, even giddy, affairs, as the party — lifted by enormous political donations and a backlash against the Obama administration — achieved overwhelming control of state governments.
But a sense of foreboding hung over the group’s gathering in Austin this past week, as President Trump’s unpopularity and Republicans’ unexpectedly drastic losses in elections earlier this month in Virginia, New Jersey and suburbs from Philadelphia to Seattle raised the specter of a political reckoning in 2018.
“I do think Virginia was a wake-up call,” said Gov. Bill Haslam of Tennessee, who took over here as chairman of the governors association. “There’s a pretty strong message there. When Republicans lose white married women, that’s a strong message.”
In a series of closed-door meetings, governors tangled over how best to avoid being tainted by Mr. Trump, and debated the delicate task of steering Mr. Trump’s political activities away from states where he might be unhelpful. Several complained directly to Vice President Mike Pence, prodding him to ensure that the White House intervenes only in races in which its involvement is welcome.
As noted earlier, this is not the first time Mr. Haslam has held the top spot at the RGA. He was elected to serve at the Association’s Chair in 2015, taking over from New Jersey’s Chris Christie.
The balance of the 2018 RGA Executive Committee will be former RGA Chair Scott Walker of Wisconsin, former RGA Chair (2016) Susana Martinez of New Mexico, Mary Fallin of Oklahoma, Doug Burgum of North Dakota, Eric Greitens of Missouri, Eric Holcomb of Indiana and Phil Bryant of Mississippi. In addition, Governor Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas was elected RGA Policy Chairman, and Governor Matt Bevin of Kentucky was elected RGA Policy Vice Chairman.