Gov. Bill Richardson’s reelection in New Mexico was never in doubt, and the possible 2008 Democratic presidential candidate spent the final days of his campaign helping fellow Democrats while he cruised to a record-breaking margin of victory. 

So when the Republican Governors Association (RGA) spent $115,000 on ads opposing Richardson in the final weeks, eyebrows were accordingly raised.

That late expenditure in the non-competitive race was the coating on a bitter pill for GOP operatives in several red states with Democratic governors. Their candidates received little financial help from the governors’ association and went on to lose by stunning margins.

As the association convenes its annual conference today in Miami, some operatives say it didn’t have to be that way.

Some of the races in Democrat-governed red states turned out to be nearly as lopsided as Richardson’s 69-31 win; Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano won by 28 points, Oklahoma Gov. Brad Henry won by 33 points and Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen won by 39 points. In these races and closer ones in red states such as Kansas and Arkansas, Republicans said the association could have done more with its record-breaking war chest early on, when they were more competitive.

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A national consultant who does a lot of work in Oklahoma and Kansas said those two states represent two of the biggest missed opportunities because they are so cheap to play in. In Kansas, Gov. Kathleen Sebelius easily withstood a challenge from Republican Jim Barnett, 58-41.

“These are both places where the RGA could have come in and spent some early money in very inexpensive media markets,” the consultant said. “And yet they go decide to spend money on Bill Richardson.”

The consultant also said more could have been done in Arkansas, where Democrat Mike Beebe defeated Republican Asa Hutchinson 55-41 to replace Huckabee. ~The Hill

This comes out the same day I made the exact same argument about Mitt Romney’s mistakes as RGA Chairman.  (Honest, I didn’t see the Hill story before I wrote my earlier post.) 

Anybody could have told you that spending money on Dendahl’s campaign in New Mexico was a waste of money.  Dendahl wasn’t even the original nominee.  He had to be recruited to fill in for the man who won the nomination in the primary, some doctor whose name I don’t remember and can’t be bothered to look up (oh, this article has it–J.R. Damron), and was inevitably playing catch-up for the last few months of the election.  Throwing away this kind of money in the NM and Arizona races that were over the day they began ought to be earning Romney the third-degree from party apparatchiks and pundits everywhere.  At the very least, it ought to be making social conservatives think very seriously about whether they want a proven failure of a campaign strategist representing their cause in the primaries.