The big story of the 2010 midterm elections was the Republican tsunami in the House, as they picked up 63 seats and grabbed control of the chamber. Perhaps an even bigger story was the fact that Republicans picked up a number of key governorships and state legislatures in important states. This has given rise to the “reform governors” who have expended their political capital to fulfill their campaign promises. It also enabled Republicans to control the redistricting process.
At present, Republicans hold 29 of the nation’s governorships. It’s worthwhile to take a look at what is at stake this November in state races. Let’s begin today with the governorships.
There are 11 governorships up for grabs this year; Democrats must defend 8 offices while Republicans are defending just three. The three Republican offices – in Indiana, North Dakota, and Utah – are solid locks for Republicans. [Most importantly, Mike Pence will replace Mitch Daniels in Indiana, setting up a bright future and possible run for president one day.] This provides us with the opportunity to pick up more governorships.
Of the 8 Democrat offices, only the current governors in Vermont and Delaware are safe. Surprisingly, Missouri Democrat Jay Nixon is holding a solid lead against his weak GOP opponent, even though the state is trending away from Democrats. However, the remaining 5 Democrat seats are up for grabs. North Carolina is all but in the bag, and in New Hampshire, tea partier Ovide Lamontogne has held a consistent lead. This is significant because Republicans are slated to dominate every branch of these state governments – states that are considered critical on the national scene.
The Montana statehouse is being vacated by Brian Schweitzer, and Republicans appear in good shape to add that one into the column. In Washington, Attorney General Rob McKenna has at least an even shot of picking up this open seat from Democrats. In West Virginia, Republican Businessman Bill Maloney surprised everyone last year by nearly besting Democrat Earl Ray Tomblin in the special election. While Tomblin appears to be leading in the rematch, Obama’s profoundly low approval rating could prove fatal for Tomblin.
Republicans can very well come out of this election with 32-34 governorships – a near-record for the party. This will have reverberating consequences for many years to come.
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