In Governor's Races, Democrats Eye Wage Increase

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) -- Republican governors running for re-election next year are looking to capitalize on distaste for Washington gridlock and President Barack Obama's dropping public approval amid the bumpy rollout of his signature health care law -- and Democratic challengers may need to respond with a popular cause.

A minimum wage increase could be the answer.

Democrats vying to challenge a slew of Republican governors, particularly those seeking re-election in states that Obama won last year, are talking up an increase as their campaigns get off the ground 11 months before the election.

Polls say it's publicly popular, it revives the message of economic inequality that Obama wielded effectively last year, and it comes wrapped in a broader jobs and economic message that touches on the top priority of many voting Americans.

In Pennsylvania, championing a minimum wage increase is already popular among the big field of Democrats vying to challenge the re-election bid of Gov. Tom Corbett.

Now, Katie McGinty, a onetime environmental policy adviser to the Clinton White House and Corbett's Democratic predecessor, is distinguishing herself by telling audiences and potential donors that she was the first Democrat in the Pennsylvania field to make it an issue.

"This is core for me," McGinty said. "I think it is fundamentally true across the centuries that one of the things that can really bring a nation down is the increasing chasm in terms of income."

Thus far, the Republicans whom Democrats view as most vulnerable aren't changing their minds and supporting it.

In addition to Corbett, the Democrats' list of most vulnerable includes Maine's Paul LePage, Michigan's Rick Snyder and Wisconsin's Scott Walker. Florida's Rick Scott and Ohio's John Kasich might be insulated because their states' laws boost minimum wage with inflation and Iowa's Terry Branstad, New Mexico's Susanna Martinez and Nevada's Brian Sandoval aren't viewed as sufficiently endangered.

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