As Washington continues to sink deeper into the mire of partisan dysfunction, the Republican Governor's Association on Wednesday launched a television ad campaign aimed at promoting five governors they tout as "driving the American comeback."
The first round of the RGA-funded ads focus on Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez. Absent from the list: Gov. Rick Scott, whose claim is that Florida has outpaced the nation in job growth.
Gail Gitcho, RGA communications director, said the fact that Scott was not included in the initial list of governors is because they haven't had time to interview him yet to shoot the ad and there are 30 Republican governors.
"We are looking forward to highlighting him,'' Gitcho said. "He is one of the best governors that we have in the entire country. We haven't been able to schedule a shoot yet. You're reading too much. It's not a snub at all. Gov. Scott is one of the best governors we have in the country. What he has done for Florida is incredible and we will highlight his successes."
The RGA's timing is interesting. The anti-DC rhetoric is a subtle dig at their Republican brethren in D.C. who have gone to the brink by shutting down the government as a way to bring down health care reform. Scott hasn't exactly joined the anti-Washington bandwagon, focusing base-building blame not on Congress but on Barack Obama instead.
"The buck stops with the President,'' Scott tweeted on Wednesday as the shutdown hit its second day. "We need leadership now."
So why wouldn't they wait for the rollout until they could include the governor of the second largest Republican-controlled state in the nation in the rollout of this big effort?
Kasich, like Scott, has embraced Medicaid expansion but, unlike Scott, has argued aggressively for it. There are many ways to measure jobs growth but a June report by On Numbers, the research arm of the Business Journals media chain, found that among that list of governors, Jindal ranked 5th in terms of jobs growth, followed by Scott at 12th, Kasich at 26, Haley at 34, Walker at 40 and Martinez at 43.
To complicate things, Scott's message hasn't been exactly clean, as is evidenced by his decision to support Medicaid expansion after campaigning to defeat Obamacare.
But the RGA is in a bind. On one hand it needs to bash Washington to shore up its governors: "we are no longer going to outsource the Republican brand to the talking heads in Washington,'' as it says in its campaign. On the other hand, it wants to support Republicans seeking to repeal the Affordable Care Act at the same time some of its favorite sons are open to keeping the Medicaid money that comes with it.
More from the RGA website: "We are not going to allow the Republican Party to be defined by the dysfunction in Washington. We are not going to allow the antics in Washington to damage or destroy what we stand for.
"The media are focused on Republican infighting — they want to pit the “establishment” versus the “grassroots”. Republican Governors are showing that when you turn conservative principles into real policies, they work."