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The Bill Stops Here: Governor Pawlenty's Veto Pen

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Governor Tim Pawlenty's veto on February 22nd of a controversial transportation bill has set the stage for the DFL-controlled legislature to attempt an override.

Governor Pawlenty has deployed the veto more often (37 times since 2003) than all but 2 of his predecessors over the past 70 years. Governors Arne Carlson and Jesse Ventura were Pawlenty's only predecessors to log more vetoes. Republican Governor Carlson was crowned the King of the Veto: 40 percent of all vetoes in Minnesota since 1939 (179 in total) came from his pen (an additional 16 veto attempts by Carlson were ruled unconstitutional). The use of the veto has increased over time, reflecting the polarization of Minnesota politics and other changes. The last three governors account for 60 percent of all vetoes over the past seven decades.

But overriding a governor's veto is both rare and very difficult. Ninety-seven percent of all vetoes have stood.

The power of the governor's veto comes from a two-punch combo. First, legislative efforts to override a veto are rare. The legislature has only attempted to defeat 10 percent of vetoes by Minnesota governors (43 override attempts of 447 gubernatorial vetoes) since 1939.

Secondly, only 13 efforts by the legislature to override a governor's veto have succeeded during this span. A successful override of Governor Pawlenty's transportation veto would be historically notable—it would be only the 14th time that the legislature has successfully overridden one of the 447 vetoes by Minnesota governors since 1939.

The key barrier to successfully overriding the governor is party control of the legislature. The governor's fellow partisans rarely support a veto override and legislators in the opposing party rarely have the constitutionally required two-thirds majorities in both chambers to override (90 in House and 45 in Senate in the modern era).

Not surprisingly, one-third of all attempts to override the governor's veto and 69 percent of all successful overrides occurred during the tenure of Jesse Ventura. The state's only third-party Governor since 1939 found himself out-muscled by a coalition of Democrats and Republicans.

Click here for a full report by the Center for the Study of Politics and Governance on gubernatorial vetoes in Minnesota, "Making History: Goveror Pawlenty's Transportation Veto and A Legislative Override."

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Remains of the Data

Plurality-Winning Governors Elected At Century-Long High Water Mark

The rate of gubernatorial candidates elected without the support of a majority of voters is at its highest level since the 1910s.

Political Crumbs

Seeing Red

Congressman Nick Rahall's failed bid for a 20th term in West Virginia this cycle, combined with a narrow loss by Nick Casey to Alex Mooney in Shelley Moore Capito's open seat, means that West Virginia Democrats will be shut out of the state's U.S. House delegation for the first time in over 90 years. The Republican sweep by two-term incumbent David McKinley in the 1st CD, Mooney in the 2nd, and Evan Jenkins over Rahall in the 3rd marks the first time the GOP has held all seats in the chamber from West Virginia since the Election of 1920. During the 67th Congress (1921-1923) all six seats from the state were controlled by the GOP. Since the Election of 1922, Democrats have won 76 percent of all U.S. House elections in the Mountain State - capturing 172 seats compared to 54 for the GOP.


Home Field Advantage?

When the 114th Congress convenes in a few days, Maine will be represented by one home-grown U.S. Representative: Waterville-born Republican Bruce Poliquin. With the departure of Millinocket-born Mike Michaud, who launched a failed gubernatorial bid, the Pine Tree State was poised to send a House delegation to D.C. without any Maine-born members for the first time since 1821. Three-term U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree (born in Minnesota) coasted to reelection as expected, however Poliquin edged Kentucky-born Emily Cain by 5.3 points to keep the streak alive. Since 1876, a total of 208 of the 222 candidates elected to the nation's lower legislative chamber from the state have been born in Maine, or 94 percent.


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