The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Democrats see opportunity in Walker’s, Christie’s troubles

With two Republican governors who are considered rising stars and potential presidential contenders facing ethics controversies at home, Democrats say they sense opportunity to damage the GOP brand.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is embroiled in questions that have arisen from a massive traffic jam last year on the George Washington Bridge. And Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is under new scrutiny as the result of a massive trove of e-mails released in connection with allegations of illegal coordination between his 2010 gubernatorial campaign and government workers.

It is still far from clear whether either man's political prospects will be damaged, but Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin, head of the Democratic Governors Association, contended in an interview with The Washington Post that "the notion that these folks were the Republican party reformers is officially dead."

Shumlin, who is attending the National Governors Association's winter meeting in Washington, also mentioned the recent indictment of former Virginia governor Robert F. McDonnell (R).

"If they want to travel around the country promoting their ethical challenges, that only helps me elect Democratic governors," Shumlin said. "My point is, team, I don't have investigations going on in the Democratic governors. We don't get indicted."

To which Republicans might answer with two words: Rod Blagojevich.

In December 2011, Illinois' former Democratic governor was sent to prison with a 14-year sentence for political corruption that included trying to sell the U.S. Senate seat that Barack Obama vacated when he was elected president.