Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker in July.(Scott Bauer/Associated Press) Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker in July.(Scott Bauer/Associated Press)

When Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) suggests that change in the GOP would have to come from outside Washington, D.C., he probably didn’t mean to exclude himself and other U.S. senators from the 2016 presidential race. (It’s unclear if he invests hope for a Senate majority in insurgents like Dr. Milton Wolf of Kansas and Matt Bevin of Kentucky). He, however, has a good case, but not in the way he intended.

“Outside” D.C. includes, I assume, governors’ residences in Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, New Jersey, etc. The appeal of GOP governors in 30 states is not that they are tea party radicals who want to “implode” the GOP, as Cruz says he does, but that they are doers. They deliver on a conservative reform agenda. The Republican Governors Association points to a piece by Americans for Tax Reform chief Grover Norquist, wherein Norquist observes:

Today the House forestalls any effort to hike taxes, while the Democrat-controlled Senate and White House guarantee that GOP plans for tax reform—cutting the top rates for individuals and businesses to 25 percent, instituting a territorial tax system, allowing the expensing of business investment—are on ice until 2017.

But in the . . . states, tax changes for good or evil are very much the order of the day. Over the last two years, of the 25 states where Republicans control the governor’s mansion and both chambers of the state legislature, 19 have cut taxes. (Five Republican states have announced the goal of abolishing their state income taxes completely.) Of the 13 states where Democrats are in total control, 10 have raised taxes.

Some of those governors had to compromise on many items to get the big stuff they wanted. The same is true on the spending side where governors often are required by law to balance the budget. Unlike Republicans in the Senate minority, governors can’t have a rhetorical position at the expense of a governing result; therefore they get credit for accomplishments and dinged for failures. None other than New Jersey Governor Chris Christie made the case at a town hall (he’s back once again in these settings, in full-governing and non-defensive mode):

Whether it comes from Christie or Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Michigan’s Rick Snyder or one of the other possible 2016 contenders, the message of realism (with optimism about the potential for American revival) and a record of concrete accomplishments may strike a chord with voters who are beside themselves over the antics inside the Beltway. There is, in Christie’s words, a shortage of adults in the room — and that image of immaturity and irresponsibility is not one the party can win with at the presidential level. So yes, change must come, I think, — from the governors.