The 10 Scariest GOP Governors: Bringing a Radical Right-Wing Agenda To a State Near You
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Ranking the worst Republican governors is next to impossible. Since the Tea Party sound and fury swept the Class of 2010 into power in swing states and even true-blue states like New Jersey, it's been more like a horse race between the main contenders. One will propose a law that seems so terrifying it could never make it through the legislature, let alone be topped. Then it passes, and in the blink of an eye another state's trying to outdo it.
These governors all have some things in common. Most of them were elected in 2010 while progressive turnout was depressed and conservative anger, particularly the virulent anti-government type springing from the Tea Party movement, spilled over at the polls. Many of them took over swing states from Democratic administrations. Most of them did not run on promises to take away collective bargaining from workers, slash pensions and health care and outlaw abortion. Instead, they focused on jobs—and, admittedly, their own solution to creating jobs, which is, of course, cutting taxes.
A year or more into their terms, taxes have been cut, the wealthy are doing fine, and working people, particularly immigrants and women, are struggling. The promises of jobs have given way to Shock Doctrine-style cuts, attacks on unions, public services, and voting rights. Since it can be hard to keep up with the moves by different governors around the country, we've compiled a list of the 10 scariest GOP governors and their proposals.
Who knows what target will be next? Will someone attempt to give fetuses voting rights, or perhaps decree that employees should pay employers for the privilege of working?
Lest you think we're unfairly picking on the Republicans, we've thrown in honorable mention for a couple of Democrats in the nation's biggest blue states who seem to have taken a page from our right-wing friends.
But first, how about a few governors you may have missed?
10. Robert Bentley, Alabama. Bentley has been one of the quieter governors among the new class, but his lack of Chris Christie-like bluster has allowed some of Alabama's scarier provisions to sneak by unnoticed. A dermatologist who was accused of using his title “Dr.” on the ballot to sway voters, Bentley is also an evangelical Christian who declared on the day of his inauguration that “anybody here today who has not accepted Jesus Christ as their savior, I'm telling you, you're not my brother and you're not my sister, and I want to be your brother."
No word if undocumented immigrants who happen to be Christian are his brothers. Alabama passed the nation's most restrictive immigration law just last month, surpassing Arizona's SB 1070 as the worst place in the country to be an undocumented immigrant—or be mistaken for one. The bill, HB 56, was called a “wish list of restrictionist immigration provisions at the state law level,” by Kevin Johnson, dean of the law school at the University of California, Davis.
The bill not only makes it a crime for undocumented immigrants to be in the state, but attempts to criminalize every aspect of their existence. It requires schools to ask students about their immigration status, and bans undocumented students from state universities; it makes it illegal to rent housing to immigrants, and allows police to ask for papers using “reasonable suspicion.” HB56 also makes contracts that undocumented people sign unenforceable—so if employers do break the law and hire immigrant workers, they can treat them as badly as they like without fear of repercussions. And that's just one possibility.
9. Nikki Haley, South Carolina. Nikki Haley, daughter of immigrants, is South Carolina's youngest governor, its first woman, and its first person of color. So we should be proud, right?