One of the lasting imprints of the 2012 midterm Republican wave will come at the state level. Many Governorships and state legislatures will be Republican-controlled for several years to come and, perhaps more importantly, during the 2011 redistricting resulting from the 2010 census. The Associated Press takes a look at a recent gathering of the Republican Governor’s Association and how they hope to be a force in 2012:

SAN DIEGO (AP) — The 2010 elections barely over, nearly three dozen current and incoming Republican governors already are looking to the next election, aiming to capitalize on victories in presidential battlegrounds while working to shed the GOP’s white-guy image.

Still a full two years away, the 2012 contests hung heavily over the Republican Governors Association’s annual conference. No fewer than four potential presidential candidates, including outgoing RGA Chairman Haley Barbour and Vice Chairman Tim Pawlenty, and a slew of GOP rising stars were among the 34 governors and governors-elect planning to attend the two-day gathering.

With 800 to 1,000 people expected, the meeting was to be the largest celebration by the political arm of the nation’s Republican governors since 1994 when the GOP posted huge gains. Two weeks ago, Republican candidates took advantage of a friendly environment to score enough victories to ensure that the party will control a majority of states — 29 — come January.

That’s significant because Republican governors will set conservative state policy that’s expected to counter what’s coming out of Washington under a Democratic controlled White House. Also, in many states, Republicans will preside over the every-decade redrawing of congressional and legislative districts, putting the GOP’s stamp on the country for the next 10 years.

As the meeting got under way, the RGA promoted its victories in key electoral-rich battleground states that will be critical to President Barack Obama’s re-election chances — Ohio, Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Iowa and Wisconsin among them — as well as triumphs by four female candidates, two Hispanics and one Indian-American.

“President Obama’s 2012 map is much more difficult” with Republicans now in control of a majority of states after elections that saw voters select “a diverse class of Republican governors that have the potential to transform the GOP,” according to an RGA memo.

The state-level Republican victories in 2012 were largely overshadowed by the changing hands of US House of Representatives, however, it has no less impact on the 2012 election cycle. I could go on a limb right now and say that the next Republican elected, be it 2012 or 2016, will likely be a Governor in my opinion. The anti-Washington and anti-establishment wave is helping state-level politicians who know firsthand the ins and outs of battling the federal government on a host of issues. I believe many voters will see a Governor (or former Governor) as much more empathetic to the concerns of the individual, not the bureaucracy.