By Steven K. Paulson Associated Press
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — The new chair of the National Governors Association is warning the largest group of new governors in U.S. history that the role of governor has changed dramatically over the past decade.
Chris Gregoire, a Democrat from Washington state, told a summit for new governors Saturday they will have to deal with an unprecedented economic crisis and they need to have teams in place when they take office that are trained and ready to respond to terrorism threats and emergencies around the clock.
She said the bitter campaigns are over and voters want bipartisan solutions to the major problems facing every state.
“We are at a historic time in our country. We put the elephants and donkeys aside and we’re prepared to govern,” she said.
This year, 29 new governors have been elected to take office. The last time there was a change of this magnitude was in 1920, when 27 new governors were elected.
The power also has shifted in governor’s offices nationwide — including territories — from 26 Republicans, 28 Democrats and one Independent to 31 Republicans, 21 Democrats and two Independents. Minnesota’s race is still too close to call.
Gov. Jack Markel, a Democrat from Delaware who has been in office since last year, said Democrats focused too much this year on excess compensation for Wall Street executives and Republicans on “doing away with government entirely.”
He said 95 percent of success for a new governor is choosing the right people for their administration.
Gov.-elect John Hickenlooper, a Democrat from Colorado, said governors can no longer make political appointments to their Cabinet and staff.
He said some people are good at thinking, some at implementing and others are good at handling crises and they need to work as a team.
“I don’t need lone rangers riding in by themselves,” he said.