WSJ – Barbour Sees Gubernatorial Candidates as Basis of GOP Revival

More than two dozen Republican gubernatorial candidates converged Friday at an Idaho resort for a three-day session organized by the Republican Governors Association to lay out a strategy to rebuild the GOP for the 2010 election cycle.

The Sun Valley event will feature sessions led by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Michigan Gov. John Engler and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. It was the latest sign that the governors association and its chairman, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, were emerging as influential players in shaping a Republican comeback bid from disastrous losses in the past two election cycles.

Mr. Barbour has barnstormed the country in recent months arguing that a GOP revival must begin in the states rather than in Washington. He says the party will gain most where its efforts are tied to local concerns and focus on practical problem-solving, rather than on social wedge issues that have often defined Republican politics in recent years.

Once Republican governors are elected, Mr. Barbour said, they can take the lead in raising money and building the party through appointments and recruitment.

“We have to be very careful to make plain that there are social moderates who are leaders in our party. They’ve got a lot to contribute,” Mr. Barbour said in an interview. “To succeed, gubernatorial campaigns will say, ‘Here are the problems we’ve got and here’s what the solutions are.'”

Wall Street Journal