By Jim EllisJuly 18, 2018 — A new set of governors’ race ratings were released from the Governing.com website, and while nine of the 36 campaigns are placed in the toss-up category, it is arguable that possibly two others could be added.
The governors’ races are of note because, primarily, 2018 is a redistricting election, meaning the state chief executives elected this year, for the most part, will hold veto power when the new congressional and state legislature districts are re-drawn in 2021 following the impending 2020 national census.
Additionally, the two parties are in exact opposite positions in defending seats when comparing the governors’ campaigns to those in the US Senate. While Democrats must risk and defend 26 Senate states, Republicans must protect the identical number of governors’ mansions.
According to governing.com, eight states are now in toss-up mode:
Alaska: Gov. Bill Walker (I); Party Primary, Aug. 21
Colorado (Open): Treasurer Walker Stapleton (R) vs. Rep. Jared Polis (D)
Connecticut (Open): Party Primary, Aug. 14
Florida (Open): Party Primary, Aug. 28
Iowa: Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) vs. Businessman Fred Hubbell (D)
Michigan (Open): Party Primary, Aug. 7
Minnesota (Open): Party Primary, Aug. 14
Nevada (Open): Attorney General Adam Laxalt (R) vs. Commissioner Steve Sisolak (D)
Ohio (Open): Atty Gen Mike DeWine (R) vs. Ex-AG Richard Cordray (D)
Generally, there is agreement that these races are toss-up campaigns — no better example than Florida where both parties are locked in virtually tied battles in their respective primaries and general election polling also lies clearly within the polling margin of error — but one could make a case for some difference.
Iowa Gov. Reynolds, while running for the position for the first time in her own right after ascending to the office when then-Gov. Terry Branstad (R) became US Ambassador to China, could be rated a slight favorite over businessman Hubbell who easily won the Democratic nomination.
Despite retiring Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy (D) having very poor job approval ratings, beginning the post-Aug. 14 primary in a Lean D status might be a more accurate assessment based upon the state’s 21st Century voting history.
Two that could possibly be added to the toss-up category are Maine, where businessman Shawn Moody (R) demonstrated a stronger political base than appointed Attorney General Janet Mills (D) who was forced into an “instant run-off”, and Oklahoma where former Attorney General Drew Edmondson claimed the Democratic nomination outright on June 26th, while Republicans were forced to an August 28th run-off election.
The remaining safe, likely R, likely D, and lean R, and Lean D races, all appear consistent with other rankings. Of note, while the Hawaii governor’s contest is rated as Safe Democratic, incumbent Gov. David Ige (D) is in danger of losing the Democratic primary to Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-Honolulu) on Aug. 11.
In summary, the governing.com ratings project:
Alabama (Gov. Kay Ivey)
Arizona (Gov. Asa Hutchinson)
Idaho (open: LG Brad Little (R) vs. state Rep. Paulette Jordan (D))
Massachusetts (Gov. Charlie Baker)
Nebraska (Gov. Pete Ricketts)
South Dakota (open: Rep. Kristi Noem (R) vs. state Sen. Billie Sutton (D))
Texas (Gov. Greg Abbott)
Wyoming (open: Primary: Aug. 21)
Georgia (open: ex-state Rep. Stacey Evers (D) vs. GOP Run-off: July 24)
Maryland (Gov. Larry Hogan)
New Hampshire (Gov. Chris Sununu)
Oklahoma (open: ex-AG Drew Edmondson vs. Republican Run-off: Aug. 28)
South Carolina (Gov. Henry McMaster)
Tennessee (open: Primary: Aug. 2)
Vermont (Gov. Phil Scott)
Arizona (Gov. Doug Ducey)
Kansas (open: Primary: Aug. 7)
Wisconsin (Gov. Scott Walker)
Illinois (Gov. Bruce Rauner)
Maine (Open: AG Janet Mills (D) vs. Businessman Shawn Moody (R))
New Mexico (Open: Rep. Michelle Grisham (D) vs. Rep. Steve Pearce (R))
Rhode Island (Gov. Gina Raimondo)
New York (Gov. Andrew Cuomo)
Oregon (Gov. Kate Brown)
Pennsylvania (Gov. Tom Wolf)
California (Open: LG Gavin Newsom (D) vs. Businessman John Cox (R))
Hawaii (Gov. David Ige)