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The Best Job in Politics
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The Best Job in Politics
Exploring How Governors Succeed as Policy Leaders



March 2012 | 288 pages | CQ Press
"My worst day as governor was better than my best day as a United States senator."
—Former Governor Tim Carper (D-DE, 1993–2001)

Governors—both in, and now out of, office—see the job as the best in politics. Why is that? Drawing on a survey of former governors, personal interviews, as well as gubernatorial memoirs and biographies, Rosenthal shows students how and why governors succeed as policy leaders and makes a case as to why some governors are better at leveraging the institutional advantages of the office.

 
The Job of Governor
What’s So Good About the Job?

 
What They Want to Achieve

 
As Governors See It

 
Policymaking Success

 
Exploring How and Why Governors Succeed

 
 
Playing the Hands They Are Dealt
Gubernatorial Powers

 
Legislative Power

 
Party Control and Partisan Division

 
The Structure of State Government

 
Economic and Fiscal Conditions

 
Other Conditions and Events

 
 
What Governors Bring to the Table
Personalities

 
Experience

 
Friends

 
Staff

 
Orientations

 
Pragmatism

 
Adaptability

 
 
How Governors Put Together Their Policy Agendas
What Is the Governor’s Agenda

 
Initiatives on the Agenda

 
The Multiple Sources of Initiatives

 
How Agendas Are Developed

 
The Political Calculus at Work

 
Agendas in a State of Play

 
 
Laying the Groundwork for Their Initiatives
Gubernatorial Involvement

 
Relating to Members

 
Dealing With Legislative Leaders

 
Building Relationships With Leaders

 
Imperfect Together

 
 
Strategies and Tactics of Engagement
The Types of Issues in Play

 
Building Support and Exerting Pressure on the Legislature

 
Building Support and Exerting Pressure in the Legislature

 
Tools of Engagement

 
Playing Defense

 
 
Succeeding as Policy Leaders
How Successful Are They

 
What Makes Them Successful

 
Having the Upper Hand

 
Playing the Cards They Are Dealt

 
Having the Right Stuff

 
Asking For What They Have a Chance of Getting

 
Laying the Groundwork

 
Waging Budget and Policy Campaigns

 
 
Legacy and Beyond
How They See Their Legacies

 
How They Are Remembered

 
What Difference They Made

 
Will a New Generation of Governors Be Different?

 
Appendix A: Governors, 1980–2010

 

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