New Partisan
State-By-State Breakdowns-Governorships
Brian Morreale | 11.3.2006

As of today, Democrats are favored to pick up six governor’s seats.

Notes:

Safe = one party has virtually no chance of losing.
Likely = one party is probably going to win, but an upset isn’t impossible.
Leans = the race is competitive, and either party could win, but one party has a distinct advantage.
Tilts = the race is essentially tied, but developments during the race signal that one party has an edge.

 

ALABAMA
Bob Riley – R
Likely Republican

Alabama has unusual politics for a Southern state.  On the Presidential level, it’s the most Republican of all Southern states (Bush did better in Alabama than in any other Southern state in 2004, for example).  On the state and local levels, though, it’s one of the most Democratic states in the South.  Democrats continue to control the state legislature by wide margins, even as they lose ground in most other Southern state legislatures.  They even gained seats in 2002, when Republicans did very well in the South.  Both parties can win statewide offices, most offices switched party control in 2002, including Governor and LG.  Bob Riley was unpopular at first, since he supported a tax increase that the legislature and voters opposed.  People figured that he’d be a goner in 2006, particularly when Roy Moore decided to run in the primary.  Apparently Riley’s handing of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina greatly improved his image, and Moore ran a weird campaign and alienated a lot of people.  Riley won the primary easily.  The Democratic nominee is LG Lucy Baxley, who beat Don Siegelman (who Riley unseated in 2002).  Baxley is the better Democratic candidate, since Siegelman has continuing ethics problems.  Baxley could win, but Riley has become safer as 2006 has gone on.  If Riley loses, it means that Southern states are rejecting Republicans on all levels and that Republicans will have one of the worst Election Nights in history.

Update:  A recent group of polls show Republicans gaining ground on Democrats in a number of statewide offices.  They may be outliers, but may signify that Bob Riley will do well enough to have coattails.



ALASKA
Frank Murkowski – R
Tilts Democratic

Frank Murkowski ran for reelection, which came as a surprise to almost everyone, since he’s so unpopular at least in part due to his appointment of his daughter to the Senate seat that he left when he was elected Governor in 2002.  Democrat Tony Knowles, who was Governor from 1995-2003, and who ran against Lisa Murkowski for the Senate race in 2004 (she won mainly because of Bush), is running for Governor again.  On the Republican side, Wasilla Mayor Sarah Palin and State Railroad Commission Chair John Binkley are both running, and polls have both of them destroying Murkowski.  

The race is hard to predict, because Alaska Democrats will be boosted if Democrats are having a big night on the mainland  since Alaska polls close after returns from other states are already in, so they know what the national mood is.  

Update:  In the Republican primary, Frank Murkowski got killed, losing with less than 20% of the vote.  Sarah Palin won, and she’s much better for Republicans than Murkowski.  Republicans have a new problem, though – a bunch of powerful state legislators (mostly Republicans, but a couple of Dems too) had their offices raided by the FBI.  Depending on what comes from that, Republicans as a whole could suffer in the elections.

While Palin was far ahead in polls after the primary, Knowles’ campaign became more aggressive, attacking Palin’s relative inexperience.  He’s come back and now the race is close again.



ARIZONA
Janet Napolitano – D
Safe Democratic

People think that Arizona is trending Democratic on the national level.  It’s not as much of a swing state as Colorado or Nevada (it’s more Republican), but Napolitano is popular.  She hasn’t given Republicans anything to attack her on – even immigration, to the extent that it’s an issue.  Len Munsil is the Republican nominee.  He’s a conservative activist and not a serious candidate.  Napolitano will get reelected by between 15 and 20 points.



ARKANSAS
Open (Mike Huckabee is retiring)
Leans Democratic

The Democratic nominee is Attorney General Mike Beebe.  The Republican is former Rep. and former DEA chief Asa Hutchinson.  Early on, pundits believed that Hutchinson was the favorite, based on the faulty assumption that Arkansas favors Republicans.  But Arkansas is still a Democratic state in federal, state, and local races.  Mike Beebe has consistently led in polls, and Hutchinson’s campaign hasn’t impressed state or national Republicans.  Beebe is definitely the favorite at this point.



CALIFORNIA
Arnold Schwarzenegger – R
Likely Republican

Schwarzenegger’s popularity has gone up and down.  He was very popular through the first half of 2004, but fell in the second half of the year when he fought the teacher’s unions and his government reform ballot initiatives all failed.  Pundits viewed that as a rejection of Schwarnegger.  Through last year and early this year, he seemed like a sure loser, and Comptroller Steve Westly and Treasurer Phil Angelides decided to run against him.  Schwarzenegger’s popularity has improved in the past couple of months, and Angelides, who most people figured would be a weaker nominee than Westly due to his lack of money, got the Democratic nomination.  Schwarzenegger has also managed to pick some (implicit) support from part of the Democratic establishment in Sacramento through working with them on some Democratic issues.  Angelides needs the establishment to get out the Democratic vote for him if he wants to win, so the move is a good one for Arnold.  Numerous Democrats have given up on Angelides.



COLORADO
Open (Bill Owens is retiring)
Leans Democratic

Democrats have been winning a lot in Colorado recently.  They picked up a Senate seat, a House seat, and the State Senate and State House in 2004.  Some people assumed that U.S. Rep. Bob Beauprez would win the Governor’s race easily when he announced that he was running, since he got reelected easily in the most swing district in the state in 2004, and since high-profile Democrats avoided the race.  The Democratic nominee is Denver County DA Bill Ritter.  Liberal Democrats didn’t want him to be the nominee, since he’s pro-life.  He got the nomination anyway, and has been ahead of Beauprez in every poll done in the state.  Beauprez recently got into trouble over comments that he made about African Americans.

Update:  A recent Rocky Mountain news poll showed Ritter ahead of Beauprez 50-33.  It’s never a good idea to read too much into a single poll (something TV pundits would do well to remember), but if that’s accurate, Beauprez is basically finished.



CONNECTICUT
Jodi Rell – R
Safe Republican

Rell became Governor after John Rowland resigned to go to jail (he’s out now).  She isn’t associated with him, even though she was his Lieutenant Governor.  Rell is the most popular politician in the state, and one of the nation’s most popular Governors.  Polls showed her beating even Chris Dodd in a hypothetical matchup.  New Haven Mayor John DiStefano is the Democratic candidate, and nobody expects him to come close, regardless of the results of any other races in the state.



FLORIDA
Open (Jeb Bush is retiring)
Leans Republican

It’s U.S. Rep Jim Davis, from Tampa, against state Attorney General Charlie Crist.  Republicans have the advantage here, since Republicans have done much better in Florida than Presidential results indicate, and Crist has the support of Jeb Bush, who’s one of the country’s more popular Governors at the moment.  Davis had a tough race to get his party’s nomination – he beat State Senator Rod Smith of Gainesville.  Smith had the support of the sugar industry, and used their money to air a lot of negative TV ads against Davis.  Davis has money, but is unknown compared to Crist – particularly in North Florida.  Crist won his primary easily over Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher, and looks like he’s well-positioned to win the general election.  Democrats don’t seem very enthusiastic about the race.

Update:  Near the end of the campaign, Davis has finally started to get his campaign really going, and the result is that the race is a bit closer than it was a couple of weeks ago. Crist, though, remains the favorite.



GEORGIA
Sonny Perdue – R
Likely Republican

Georgia has moved heavily towards Republicans over the past five years.  They took the Governor’s seat, both Senate seats, other state offices, and the state legislature.  Over the course of his term, Perdue’s reelection chances were uncertain.  Some polls done for the race showed it close, while others showed Perdue popular.  LG Mark Taylor and Secretary of State Cathy Cox entered the race early, figuring that Perdue might be easy to beat.  Cox was the initial favorite; she is friends with former Gov. Roy Barnes.  She also was reelected in 2002 by a larger margin than Taylor was.  Furthermore, head to head polls all showed Cox doing better against Perdue than Taylor did.  Despite all this, Taylor out-campaigned Cox and defeated her in the Democratic primary 51-44.  Meanwhile, Perdue has become more popular, partly due to his handling of Hurricane Katrina.  Due to this, and because of the increasing Republican strength in the state, it seems unlikely that Taylor can win.  The best that he can probably do is lose by a single digit margin.



HAWAII
Linda Lingle – R
Safe Republican

Lingle is the first Republican elected Governor in state history.  She almost defeated Gov. Ben Cayetano in 1998 and got elected in 2002, because people were increasingly tired of the Democratic machine that had controlled Hawaiian politics since the 1950s.  Even though she’s a haole (Hawaiian for white person) in the state, where ethnic politics are important, minority voters (native Hawaiians, Japanese Americans, and Chinese Americans) don’t care – they like her as a reformer.  Only little-known Democrats are opposing her, and Republicans hope that she can bring more Republicans to the state legislature, like she did in 2002.



IDAHO
Open (Jim Risch is retiring)
Likely Republican

Idaho is one of the most Republican states in the country.  Democrats have actually showed signs of life in the past couple of years by winning state legislative races and holding Gov. Dirk Kempthorne to 56% in 2002.  The Democrat who did that, Jerry Brady, is running again, and has name recognition built up from then.  Democrats plan to fight in as many races as they can, but the Republicans are running Butch Otter.  Otter represents the 1st district in Congress, and before that, was the long-term LG and is famous for winning a tight jeans-wearing contest once.  Brady would have a better chance against any other Republican.

Update:  News and polls from the state indicate that the race may actually be close.  It’s still very hard to imagine Otter losing, but an upset is possible.



ILLINOIS
Rod Blagojevich – D
Likely Democratic

Rod Blagojevich isn’t very popular.  Republicans should be favored to beat him, since his opponent is Judy Baar Topinka, the only statewide elected Republican (in any race since 1998).  She hasn’t run a great campaign, apparently, and the Republican base doesn’t like her that much, since she helped get Alan Keyes into the 2004 Senate race as the State Party Chair, and she’s not as conservative as some would like (Not that any conservative candidate wins in Illinois without a scandal-tarred opponent).  Republicans used to be optimistic about the race; now they’re turned towards other states to win Governorships.

Update:  Recent polling has shown Blagojevich with an increasing lead.  This confirms that the race is growing less competitive.



IOWA

Open (Tom Vilsack is retiring)
Tilts Democratic

This is the only Democratic open seat this year.  Republican Jim Nussle got into the race early.  As a Representative from a Democratic part of the state (East/Northeast Iowa) he seemed to have a big advantage at first.  The Democratic field was divided.  Chet Culver, the Secretary of State and son of a former Senator ran, as did ex-Rep. Mike Blouin and businessman Ed Fallon.  The main race was between Culver and Blouin.  Despite Culver’s background and statewide election, and Blouin’s pro-life stance and being defeated in his last race (in 1978), some people thought that Blouin would be the best nominee.  Culver’s statewide name recognition and ideology won him the primary, which was held on 6/6/06.  This is now one of the better chances for a Republican pickup, but Culver has kept an advantage over Nussle.  Nussle’s status as a member of Congress and party are part of the problem for him.



KANSAS

Kathleen Sebelius – D
Safe Democratic

Even though Kansas is one of the most Republican states in the country on all levels, it frequently elects Democratic Governors.  Sebelius is popular, and has support from both Democrats and Republicans.  She’s reached out to more conservative voters by choosing a Republican as her running mate when she first ran for election in 2002, and by doing the same thing this year.  Sebelius is seen as bipartisan; Republicans in the state are spending more time on in-fighting between the moderate and conservative wings of their own party.  The recent primaries, in which moderate Republicans seized control of the State Board of Education from conservatives who opposed teaching evolution in schools, is an example.  Sebelius’ running mate this year is a former State Republican Party chair who represented the moderate wing of the state GOP – getting him was a big symbolic victory on her part.  Once Republicans focus on Sebelius (if they ever do), State Senator Jim Barnett could make the race a bit competitive, since it’s hard for any Republican to do too poorly in Kansas.  Nobody expects Sebelius to lose, though.



MAINE

John Baldacci – D
Leans Democratic

Maine usually likes incumbents – only two statewide or federal officeholders have been defeated for reelection in the past thirty years.  John Baldacci’s approval rating has been fair at best and poor at worst, though, in large part due to a poor economy.  State Senator Chandler Woodcock won the Republican nomination.  Aside from jokes about his name, Woodcock has a problem winning votes due to his social conservatism.  Social conservatism doesn’t play well in Maine, except when it comes to guns.  The race is still developing; if it’s about ideology, Baldacci will win; if it’s about Baldacci’s tenure as Governor, Woodcock has a decent chance to win.  He’d still have to deal with Baldacci’s incumbency and money (Baldacci owns Mama Baldacci’s Italian restaurants).



MARYLAND

Bob Ehrlich – R
Tilts Democratic

Erhlich is one of only three Republicans to get elected in the state in the past 25 years.  He’s also the first person in at least half a century to win the Governor’s seat by running to the right of his opponent – the last Republican to win the Governorship, Spiro Agnew, ran to the left of his opponent in 1966.  It’s hard for Republicans to win statewide, since Democrats have shown the ability to win by getting out a big vote in the DC suburbs and Baltimore even while getting crushed in the entire rest of the state.  Any Democrat can get to 47-48% in the state without really trying, so the burden is on Republicans to stop them from getting the other 2%.  Ehrlich is fairly popular, but that might not be enough in a Democratic year in this state.  He’s facing Martin O’Malley, the Mayor of Baltimore.  O’Malley is liberal, but took a tough on crime stance as Mayor.  Ehrlich needs to do very well in the Baltimore suburbs to win; facing the Baltimore Mayor who has some appeal in the suburbs makes that difficult.  O’Malley has been criticized for making controversial statements on some issues, but that hasn’t hurt his candidacy.



MASSACHUSETTS

Open (Mitt Romney is retiring)
Leans Democratic

Massachusetts is one of the most Democratic states in the country, if not the most Democratic.  Republicans have held the Governor’s seat since 1990 largely by portraying themselves as outsiders and opponents of the Democratic establishment on Beacon Hill.  Former House Speaker Tom Finneran, who was controversial for his social conservatism and dictatorial leadership style, provided a particularly effective figure for Republicans to rally against.  Finneran is gone, though, and Republican anti-establishment steam might be running out.  Mitt Romney decided not to run again, although he could have.  Romney intends to run for President in 2008, and it would be difficult for him to stick to the ideological center and get reelected (particularly when he was going to have a difficult race anyway) while remaining acceptable to Republican primary voters in 2008.  His move to the right on abortion is proof that he chose the Presidential race over the Governor’s race.  

Without Romney, Republicans have been left with Kerry Murphy Healey.  She initially sat back and let the Democratic candidates fight it out among themselves, despite polls showing all three Democratic contenders ahead of her in a head-to-head match up by significant margins. She ended up facing U.S. Attorney Deval Patrick, and while she’s attacked him on a number of issues, she hasn’t gotten any traction.  The race is over.



MICHIGAN

Jennifer Granholm – D
Tilts Republican

Jennifer Granholm used to be considered a rising star in the Democratic Party.  Pundits talked about her as a candidate on the national ticket in 2008 or possibly 2012.  Since she was elected in 2002, though, the state’s economy has continued to decline and she’s taken much of the blame for failing to improve things.  The Republican candidate is Dick DeVos, the CEO of the Amway company.  He’s run an aggressive media campaign, getting his name recognition up early.  Polls have had him ahead of Granholm since May, which is very bad for her.  She’s charismatic, but she’s the Democratic Governor most likely to lose in November.  If she gets reelected, Democrats are winning all over the country.



MINNESOTA

Tim Pawlenty – R
Tilts Republican

People disagree on where the race stands.  Republicans think that Tim Pawlenty is in good shape to get reelected.  Democrats think that the race could go either way.  On the macro level, Republicans think that the close Presidential elections in 2000 and 2004 and the Republican successes in statewide races in 2002 signal a Republican trend.  Democrats point to large Democratic gains in the State House and an effective GOTV effort as proof that the party is still strong.  Attorney General Mike Hatch is the Democratic nominee, and Republican turned Democrat Judi Dutcher, the former State Auditor, is his running mate.  It’s hard to say how effective Hatch’s campaign has been.  Pawlenty doesn’t seem likely to lose yet, though.

Update:  Polls, particularly recent ones, show the race very close, with Pawlenty well under 50% of the vote.  If Republicans overall continue to do poorly and as Mark Kennedy lags in his Senate race, Pawlenty’s position worsens.  He’s still a slight favorite, but his reelection chances are increasingly precarious.



NEBRASKA

Dave Heineman – R
Safe Republican

Heineman was the LG when Mike Johanns left the Governor’s spot to become Bush’s Agriculture Secretary.  Rep. Tom Osborne, the U. Nebraska football coach, was already running when that happened.  Most people figured that Osborne was a safe bet for election, and thought that Heineman was wasting his time by running against Osborne in the primary for a full term.  People liked the job Heineman was doing as Governor, and he out-campaigned Osborne, who didn’t give voters a reason to toss Heineman out, and Heineman actually won.  The primary was the hard part for him; Democrats (correctly) think that if Tom Osborne couldn’t beat Heineman, there’s no way that Democrat David Hahn can.  Heineman is the safest Governor running for reelection now.



NEVADA

Open (Kenny Guinn is retiring)
Tilts Republican

Nevada is a swing state on most levels.  It voted for Bill Clinton twice and for George W. Bush twice.  Each party holds a Senate seat and controls one house of the state legislature.  All three of the state’s House seats have been competitive in the recent past.  Republicans swept the statewide offices in 2002, but Democrats are running stronger candidates in all offices.  That, combined with the fact that almost all of the offices are now open, mean that Democrats should pick up at least one or two offices.  Some have predicted that Democrats could win as many as five of the six state offices, with Republicans safe only in the State Controller’s office – Kathy Augustine’s position before her mysterious death.  

The Republican nominee is Rep. Jim Gibbons, who represents all of the state outside of the Las Vegas area.  He won his primary easily, although State Senator Bob Beers ran an active campaign.  On the Democratic side, State Senate Minority Leader Dina Titus won a closer race against moderate Henderson Mayor Jim Gibson.  Neither nominee is in the ideological center.  Titus is liberal, while Gibbons is socially conservative.  The state’s business and gambling interests play a large role in electing candidates.  They provided Kenny Guinn with a lot of backing in 1998 and helped both parties keep representation in Washington and in Carson City.  Most polls show Gibbons with a small lead, but Gibbons might not see that support on Election Day.  

Update:  Polls showed Gibbons increasing his lead over Titus.  He got something of an October surprise, though.  A woman has come forward claiming that Gibbons sexually assaulted her.  Gibbons is denying the story, and has pledged to take a lie detector test (as has the woman).  There is apparently a videotape of the alleged incident.  If the woman’s claim is shown to be true, then Gibbons will have more to worry about than losing the race.



NEW HAMPSHIRE

John Lynch – D
Safe Democratic

John Lynch was elected in 2004 because of dissatisfaction with incumbent Craig Benson, who was the first Governor is New Hampshire history to be defeated for reelection after a single term.  Lynch has compared very favorably to Benson, who was viewed as combative and ineffective.  The only Republican running is Tom Coburn, one of New Hampshire’s 400 State Reps. Lunch will win reelected easily, and Democrats have talked about regaining the State Senate, which they won in 1998 when then-Gov Jeanne Shaheen was reelected with 66% of the vote (best ever for a Dem in NH), then lost in 2000.  Lynch may beat Shaheen’s record.



NEW MEXICO

Bill Richardson – D
Safe Democratic

Richardson has a long history in the state, being in Congress and serving as Energy Secretary and now Governor.  He’s looking at running for President in 2008.  Republicans know that they can’t beat him for reelection, so they’ll settle for trying to damage his reputation by running a negative campaign.  Doctor J.R. Damron was the Republican primary winner, but he dropped out after winning the primary to allow State Republican Party chair John Dendahl to run instead.  Dendahl will run a more active campaign than Damron would have.  Dendahl and Richardson hate each other, so the race could get ugly if Richardson decides to pay any attention to Dendahl.  It won’t be close, though.



NEW YORK

Open (George Pataki is retiring)
Safe Democratic

Democrat Eliot Spitzer is headed towards a massive win in November against former State Assemblyman and Comptroller candidate John Faso easily. The only question is how many Democrats he will bring into office along with him.  Given Comptroller Alan Hevesi’s ethical problems this year, Faso probably wishes that he had run for that office again this year instead of Governor.



OHIO

Open (Bob Taft is retiring)
Leans Democratic

Ohio used to have one of the most effective state Republican parties in the country, holding every statewide office and secure majorities in the state legislature and Congressional delegation.  That was until the coin and banking scandal came out, and Bob Taft, who has been charged with crimes and convicted for his role in the scandal, became a pariah to even other Republicans.  Every Republican in the state has been hurt by the ongoing scandals and association with Taft.  

Democrats obviously see a big opportunity to make major gains in both state and federal races.  Last year, Paul Hackett almost won the most Republican Congressional seat in the state in a special election.  

The Democratic nominee is Ted Strickland, a Congressman from Southeast Ohio, a conservative swing area of the state.  The Republican nominee is Ken Blackwell, the Secretary of State who has the support of evangelical voters.  Blackwell is not personally associated with Taft or any of the scandals, but just being a Republican hurts him.  Polls have consistently shown Strickland ahead, even before he was known through the state as he is now.  Republicans will be lucky to lose only the Governor’s race and a few other races.

Update:  Strickland’s leads in polls keeps increasing.  Blackwell’s campaign has resorted to making personal attacks on Strickland’s character, which reeks of desperation.  Things keep getting worse for Ohio Republicans.



OKLAHOMA
Brad Henry – D
Safe Democratic

Oklahoma is a very Republican state in Presidential elections, but in state office like Governor, Democrats win the majority of the time.  Brad Henry hasn’t given anyone any reason to vote against him.  U.S. Rep. Ernest Istook is running; he won the Republican primary more easily than expected, but even polls done for his own campaign (which always favor the candidate) have him losing to Henry.  Republicans are more focused on down-ballot races, particularly in the State Senate.



OREGON

Ted Kulongoski – D
Tilts Democratic

Kulongoski has a lot of problems.  He hasn’t achieved much as Governor, and isn’t a great campaigner.  He lost badly in his early statewide races, for Senate against Bob Packwood in 1980 and for Governor against Victor Atiyeh in 1982.  He also had a closer than expected race against Kevin Mannix in 2002 even though Mannix was seen as the weakest of the possible Republican nominees that year and liberal third party candidate Jim Weaver dropped out of the race to ensure that he wouldn’t take progressive votes away from Kulongoski.  Ron Saxton, a more moderate candidate, won the nomination this year, winning a primary that included Mannix.  

Given Kulongoski’s weakness, Saxton should have a strong chance to win.  Oregon has been unfriendly to Republicans, though.  It hasn’t voted for a Republican for President since 1984 or for Governor since 1982.  Democrats control all but one statewide office, as well.  Republicans haven’t yet shown that they can win a competitive statewide race here.  The mail-in voting only system makes predicting turnout difficult.  The only certainties are that it is higher than elsewhere and that voters are less affected by momentary party surges since voting is spread out over three weeks rather than concentrated in one day.



PENNSYLVANIA
Ed Rendell – D
Likely Democratic

Since World War II, the Governorship has switched parties every eight years, without exception.  Republicans thought that they could break the cycle this time and knock out  Rendell, hasn’t always been popular as the economy has suffered especially in the western half of the state, after one term.  Lynn Swann, the former pro football player, is the Republican nominee.  He seemed like a strong candidate, but started his campaign poorly when he had trouble answering policy questions in a TV interview.  Swann’s campaign hasn’t lived up to its potential, and Rendell is safer as the election comes closer.  Recent polls have shown Rendell with large leads.



RHODE ISLAND
Don Carcieri – R
Tilts Republican

Carcieri is one of the most low-profile Governors in the country.  He won in 2002 by beating three-time candidate (and loser) Myrth York.  His win was a surprise, although it shouldn’t have been in retrospect.  His challenger this year is LG Charles Fogarty.  Fogarty is a much better Democratic candidate than York.  Carcieri hasn’t done anything wrong or made any political mistakes, so he should be ahead.  The race is close, anyway, and Carcieri might lose just because it’s a Democratic year.



SOUTH CAROLINA
Mark Sanford – R
Likely Republican

Sanford has a lot of problems – he’s strongly disliked by a lot of people in Columbus, and isn’t viewed favorably by a lot of people outside of the capital, either.  If South Carolina were less Republican, Sanford would be in a lot more trouble as a result.  The Democratic nominee is State Senator Tommy Moore.  Republican State Senator Jake Knotts threatened to run as an independent against Sanford, but pulled out of the race right before the filing deadline.  If Knotts had run, Moore would have had a very good chance to squeeze past the others.  The few polls that have been done have still shown Sanford with under 50% of the vote, which usually isn’t a good sign.  Moore can make the race close, but actually winning is unlikely.



SOUTH DAKOTA
Mike Rounds – R
Safe Republican

Rounds was the nation’s most popular Governor, according to polls.  When he signed the strictest abortion law in the country, which barred abortions even in cases of rape or incest, his popularity dropped - probably because some pro-choice people turned against him.  He’s still popular, though, and South Dakota has the longest streak of Republican wins in Governor’s races of any state.  The Democratic nominee is Jack Billion, who has a decent amount of money but is unknown.



TENNESSEE
Phil Bredesen – D
Safe Democratic

Bredesen benefits from a couple of things.  First, Tennessee is not quite as Republican as some believe it is, particularly below the federal level.  Second, Bredesen is a moderate, which is in line with the state.  Third, Republicans are more interested in holding onto Bill Frist’s Senate seat, so their energy is more focused on the race to succeed him.  The Republican nominee is State Senator Jim Bryson.  Bredesen basically has a pass this year, and will win big – over 60% of the vote.



TEXAS
Rick Perry – R
Safe Republican

Perry is not very well-liked; possibly because he compares unfavorably to his predecessor.  Still, Texas is so Republican right now that it doesn’t matter.  The race is only interesting because of the third party candidates running.  Ex-Rep. Chris Bell is the Democratic nominee, Republican State Comptroller Carole “Grandma” Keeton Rylander/Strayhorn is running as an independent, and Kinky Friedman is also running as a right-leaning independent.  The fact that Perry has three opponents helps him, since the opposition vote is divided equally among three other candidates, while Perry is ahead of all of them.  Polls have the other three fighting for second.  Some have even had Bell in fourth place, which would be embarrassing for Texas Democrats on Election Day.

Update:  While polls aren’t as useful here as in other states without major independent candidates, they do show movement towards Bell and away from the independents – Kinky in particular.  Turnout and the size of the independent vote are a mystery, and Perry is still secure due to the divided opposition.



VERMONT
Jim Douglas – R
Safe Republican

Douglas has been Governor since 2002, and before that, State Treasurer.  He only got 44% of the vote in 2002, and Democrats thought he was beatable in 2004 (Vermont, like New Hampshire, has two year terms for Governor).  In 2004, Burlington Mayor Peter Clavelle ran against Douglas, and even though John Kerry won the state by a large margin and Democrats regained control of the State House after losing it in 2000, Douglas won big.  This year, Dems aren’t making much of an effort.  The Democratic nominee’s name is Scudder Parker.



WISCONSIN
Jim Doyle – D
Tilts Democratic

Jim Doyle has never been very popular.  In 2002, he won by a smaller than expected margin against Acting Governor Scott McCallum, who succeeded Tommy Thompson.  He hasn’t gotten along with the state legislature and has fought with state employees and unions.  He’s also angered liberals by failing to support rights for gay couples.  Republicans have been looking to beat him this year.  

The Republican nominee is Rep. Mark Green, who represents the swing Green Bay area. Republicans tried to get Tommy Thompson to run, but they don’t need him to win.  Polls have shown the race either very close or with Doyle leading but under 50%.  Doyle is not as vulnerable as Jennifer Granholm, but it will still take a Democratic wave to save him, unless Green screws up.

Update:  Green’s ethics, namely ties to politicians and lobbyists under investigation, have become an issue.  There was an earlier scandal involving his campaign manager and wrestling tickets, but this story has gotten more attention.  Green has fallen behind Doyle in a number of polls and Doyle’s reelection seems nearly certain.



WYOMING
Dave Freudenthal – D
Safe Democratic

Wyoming is usually Democratic in Governor’s races, even though it’s mostly Republican on all other levels.  Democrats controlled the position from 1970-1994.  Freudenthal is popular, and Republicans haven’t made much of an effort to unseat him.  Ray Hunkins is the Republican candidate.  Freudenthal may help Democrats gain seats in the state legislature.

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