The 2010 California gubernatorial election is wide open as far as I can tell -- no incumbent running and no candidate in either party with a lock on the nomination. California may be a blue state in presidential elections and heavily Democratic at the congressional/legislative level, but Democrats have a problem finding a statewide leader. The only governor they've managed to elect in the past 26 years is Gray Davis, who was recalled in favor of a Republican (and yes, Arnold ran then as a mainstream Republican, not the post-partisan centrist he has since become; he also won reelection under the Republican label in 2006).
This year, the Democrats have several potential candidates with problems -- Gavin Newsom, Antonio Villaraigosa and Jerry Brown (!). Newsom has to live down his starring role as an in-your-face promoter of gay marriage ("like it or not..."). Villaraigosa's appeal seems strictly local to Los Angeles. Regarding Brown, too many Californians still remember that he was, in fact, a failure as governor and took decades to revive his political career. Do the Democrats want to be known as the retread party?
The Republicans have one statewide officeholder, Steve Poizner. His post as insurance commissioner is not visible enough to put him on any political fast track, but he was smart enough to get elected and may be smart enough to capitalize on the position he occupies now. I'm more intrigued with people like Meg Whitman, who've made their mark outside politics and have the executive ability to be governor. Any names (besides Whitman) that you would suggest?
We seek to identify the people and ideas that will lead the Republican Party back out of the wilderness. Topics include core conservatism, potential national leaders, constituencies that that the GOP must reach and the messages that will reach them.