Thornburgh: they steal our thunder. WHY DEMOCRATS WIN

Gov. Richard L. Thornburgh (R) of Pennsylvania says Democrats currently hold most of the nation's governorships for two reasons: The 1982 recession, which helped to defeat many Republicans.

Lack of effort on the part of the Republican Party.

Governor Thornburgh, campaign chairman of the Republican Governors' Association, says Democrats do not have any ``secret formula'' for winning office -- and the GOP plans to prove that this year by picking up eight to 10 governorships. Highlights of a recent Monitor interview follow:

Why do Democrats hold 34 governors' offices, Republicans only 16?

Governors's races have been neglected because so much attention as been focused on the Reagan administration. Up until this election cycle, we have not made the kind of concerted effort that's being put forth this year. I think with our President, who was once a governor, and who is determined to extend the Reagan Revolution beyond the Capital Beltway, we have an excellent chance this year to make some significant inroads.

So the Democrats have no secret formula for winning?

Oh, no. I will say this. Nineteen eighty-two was a very difficult year because of the recession, and we lost a number of state-houses that year.

Any other reason?

We've also been letting a lot of conservative Democratic governors, particularly in the South and West, steal our thunder.

What are the themes Republicans can use to win office?

The President has committed himself to the process of decentralization, which starts by putting much more emphasis on state and local governments.

That creates the opportunity to be much more innovative and flexible at that level.

But when you look at the differences between the two parties, and the role of business and industry and economic development, the Republicans are much more tilted toward the free-enterprise system and away from centralized planning or industrial policies.

When you look at fiscal responsibility, that's always been a creed of the Republican Party against taxing, spending, and borrowing.

Some Democrats use the same themes.

As I mentioned earlier, our thunder has been stolen by very shrewd [Democratic] candidates at the state and local level who are singing a different tune than at the national level.

But that [causes the Democrats problems]. It's pretty hard to put [former Virginia Gov.] Charles Robb and [former US Rep.] Geraldine Ferraro in the same package.

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