Race by Race Gubernatorial Analysis – Part 1 of 3
A couple of weeks ago, we analyzed the Senate races and confirmed the growing wave for the Republican Party in those races. But does that wave reach to the statehouse as well.
So, let’s not waste any more time and see – here are the first 13 (sort of) …
State – Incumbent – Party
Alabama – Robert Riley – R (open) Likely Republican hold
After the Republican run-off on July 13th, this race matches GOP teacher’s union pet Robert Bentley against Democrat Ron Sparks. So in essence, it’s Democrat versus Democrat. Both men are reasonably popular, and the Alabama Education Association wins either way (a few years ago, the AEA opposed background checks for teachers … they’re just a little bit crazy). Anyway, 1 election, 2 Dems battling … Likely Republican hold.
Alaska – Sean Parnell – R Definite Republican hold
Parnell took over for Sarah Palin in 2009 and has been a popular governor in Alaska since. He’s been more or less Palin without the controversy. There hasn’t been much polling on this race, but that may start in earnest when the Democrats pick their nominee from Ethan Berkowitz, Hollis French, and Bob Poe on August 10th. Alaska consistently votes Republican and in 2010, there is no reason to think any different. Definite GOP hold.
Arizona – Jan Brewer – R Likely Republican hold
Governor Brewer ascended to the governorship in 2009 as a result of Janet Napolitano moving onto the Obama Administration. For a while, it didn’t seem as if she be nominated as the GOP candidate, let alone win a 2nd term. But then she signed the controversial immigration bill that nearly 70% of Americans support nationwide and one by one, her primary opponents left the race. Now she is left facing Democrat Terry Goddard and the most recent polls show Gov. Brewer with a substantial lead. The Obama Administration lawsuit against Arizona should only strengthen her. Likely GOP hold.
Arkansas – Mike Beebe – D Definite Democrat hold
Governor Beebe is running for a 2nd term against Republican Jim Keet. Beebe is very popular in Arkansas and should win easily. Definite Democrat hold.
California – Arnold Schwarzenegger – R (open) Lean Republican hold
There are always a couple of races that are just so close, it’s tough to make a prediction (in this race, I’m wavering). But with two extremely well-funded and appealing candidates on the GOP side at the top of the ticket and Barbara Boxer not having much in the way of coattails, this comes down to old versus new. California is in deep trouble economically and Whitman’s business background should inch her over the former Governor Jerry Brown. This should be fun to watch late into the night on election night. Lean GOP.
Colorado – Bill Ritter – D (open) Lean Republican takeover
One term governor Bill Ritter decided not to seek re-election this year leading to what is shaping up to be a very close election. Colorado has trended leftward the past couple of elections, but that trend seems to have reversed a bit in 2010. For the Republicans, it’s Scott McInnis, who recently was found to have plagiarized some work for which he received a hefty payment, and the lesser known businessman, Don Maes. The Democrat is Mayor of Denver, John Hickenlooper. For many months, this race has been deadlocked, with either Republican a point or two in front. Since the plagiarism scandal broke, it’s been Hickenlooper with the lead. Like California, a toss-up. In general, I think Colorado is more naturally a Republican state at heart, and again, the wave strikes for the GOP. But until the plagiarism scandal fully plays out, this is tough to call. Leans GOP takeover.
Connecticut – Jodi Rell – R (open) Lean Democrat takeover
It’s surprising that in Democratic Connecticut, there has not been a Democratic governor since 1991. Is 2010 the year to change that trend? If the current polling holds up, both Democrats, Ned Lamont and Dan Malloy are poised to defeat either GOP candidate, Tom Foley or Michael Fedele – although, only a month or so ago, Foley was leading the race. We will have to wait until August 10th to find out, but it’s likely to be Lamont versus Foley. This year, it may be close, but I think Ned Lamont has paid his dues according to the Connecticut electorate since losing a Senate race to Joe Lieberman a few years ago. Lean Democrat.
Florida – Charlie Crist – I (open) Likely Republican takeover
Florida just keeps providing all of us political observers with fun races to watch – the 3-way Senate battle, Representative Alan Grayson’s really big mouth, and now a 3-way governor’s race. Thank you Florida! Gov. Crist left a safe re-election as governor to pursue a Senate race where the National GOP promised to clear the field for him and endorse him – only Marco Rubio didn’t agree – which is why the seat is now held by the “Independent” (re: the Charlie Crist Party) candidate. So wannabe upwardly mobile candidate Bill McCollum decided to run for the open seat against Democrat rising star, Alex Sink, who happens to be the wife of the last Democrat gubernatorial candidate, Bill McBride. Both were unopposed, until wealthy Republican self-funder, Rick Scott, jumped into the race and took the lead from the underwhelming McCollum. Sink is opposed by 2008 Socialist Party Presidential candidate, Brian Moore, in the primary (author’s note: Democrats = Socialists, never forget it). Now it looks as if it will be Rick Scott versus Alex Sink for all the marbles. But don’t forget, this is Florida, 2010, so that is not the end of the story. Bud Chiles, an independent and the son of the last Democratic governor of Florida, jumped into the race. Chiles is instantly a legitimate candidate based on his pedigree alone, and his presence hurts the Democrats in what is already shaping up to be a Republican tidal wave. Wild Citizens relish the Florida soap opera this year! Likely GOP takeover.
Georgia – Sonny Perdue – R (open) ?
The Democrat for this open seat is almost certain to be former Governor, Roy Barnes. On the GOP side, there are six names in contention, the ones most talked about are Karen Handel, John Oxendine, and Nathan Deal. Handel is the Palin candidate and Deal is the Gingrich candidate, and Oxendine seems to be the former Democrat (whose family is a very well-connected Democratic activist family), Republican that the Republican activists hate. But here, in Georgia, I’m breaking my rule. I have no idea who is going to win this race at this point, so I’m not going to say anything until the GOP primary washes out – conveniently that event is tomorrow, July 20, so I will update this race further in either installment 2 or 3.
Hawaii – Linda Lingle – D (open) Definite Democrat takeover
After eight years of Republican rule in the islands, the Democrats are poised to take back the governor’s mansion in the birthplace (? … Kenya … just kidding!) of favorite son, Barack Obama. Dems Neil Abercrombie and Mufi Hanneman are in a tight race for the nomination, but both are favorites to win in November. Unless there is a nasty bruising primary, Lt. Governor James “Duke” Aiona is likely toast. Definite Democrat takeover.
Idaho – Butch Otter – R Definite Republican hold
Mix the Republican Otter, the year 2010, any Democratic nominee – in this case Keith Allred, and the state of Idaho and what do you get? A definite Republican hold for this Governor’s mansion.
Illinois – Pat Quinn – D Lean Republican takeover
One word, Blagejovich. Yet another fun state to watch ever since the election of Mr. Obama and the alleged “selling” of that Senate seat. The trial is in progress and it seems that even Illinois residents are finally tired of the corruption in the state. The GOP nominated conservative Bill Brady as the standard bearer to face Governor Pat Quinn in the fall. Given the circus Blagejovich trial going on, numerous political shenanigans, the current economic crisis, and the fact that the Democrats control the state, the voters seem ready to try something different in the Land of Lincoln. Add a somewhat viable Green Party candidate in Rich Whitney and I think this leans GOP takeover.
Iowa – Chet Culver – D Likely Republican takeover
Governor Culver is very unpopular in Iowa and former four term governor Terry Branstad is very popular. Any other Republican would have had a very difficult time winning back this state, but Branstad left the mansion in 1999, so he is a well-known fresh face. Branstad should win his fifth term rather easily. Likely GOP takeover.
The first 13 gubernatorial races start the cycle with an 8 to 4 to 1 edge for the GOP. The next term should add a seat or two to the mix for the Republicans resulting in their 9 to 3 edge with Georgia outstanding. Overall, a +1 or 2 for the GOP. Florida and Illinois get very conservative governors out of this election, and Georgia could join those two states with another very conservative governor if Karen Handel wins.