Immigration tops talks as new governors meet at training retreat held at historic W.Va. resort

Saturday, November 18th 2006, 5:02 pm
By: News On 6

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. (AP) Immigration topped the agenda Saturday as the nation's newly elected governors came together at a retreat aimed at giving them a few pointers on how to run a state.

Ten new governors and 14 current officeholders attended the gathering, sponsored every two years by the National Governor's Association.

``It is a comfort to know you have colleagues in other states who are facing the same challenges,'' said Massachusetts Gov.-elect Deval Patrick.

At a news conference, the governors said immigration was a top issue. Some criticized Congress for failure to pass a comprehensive immigration plan this year. They are looking for action when the Democrat-controlled Congress takes over in 2007.

``It's obviously a federal issue, but it affects each and every state,'' said Florida Gov.-elect Charlie Crist.

Other governors-elect attending the retreat at the historic Greenbrier resort were Mike Beebe of Arkansas, Bill Ritter of Colorado, C.L. ``Butch'' Otter of Idaho, Chet Culver of Iowa, Martin O'Malley of Maryland, Jim Gibbons of Nevada, Eliot Spitzer of New York and Ted Strickland of Ohio.

Strickland attended even though No. 1 Ohio State faced No. 2 Michigan on Saturday. An afternoon seminar led by Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm was rescheduled so she and Strickland could watch the game.

The retreat follows an election in which Democrats took a majority of governorships for the first time since 1994. Seven of the 10 new governors at the retreat were Democrats.

The governors said the message they have gotten from the public was a desire for bipartisanship, particularly at the national level.

``The message to Congress is that we need each other,'' Culver said.

The governors said they would also focus on education, health care and emergency preparedness.

The seminars offer a chance to take a breather before the new governors are sworn in and new legislative sessions begin, said West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin, the host of the retreat at the 6,500-acre resort in the heart of the Appalachians.

``When you go home as governor, that's when the real fun starts,'' Manchin said.