Crass’s Calls: Democrats Will Likely Net 10 In Governors Races
The 36 Governor’s races on the ballot this year have been well overshadowed by the races for Congress but the importance is the same. Four of the last six presidents have been governors and, with so many state’s electing new chief executives tonight, it is a strong bet that somebody who wins will be appearing on a national ticket one day not to far down the road. That aside, while governor’s races is of foremost importance to local policies, the lense from which they are viewed from a partisan standpoint are not mutually exclusive. As such, the state contests have not been immune from the nationalization and contentiousness of their federal brethren. This is a main reason that Democrats are poised to pick off 9-10 governorships that range in states that are big and small, watched and not watched, and liberal and conservative.
Like any year, 2018 has not been immune from producing the unforeseen which has led to developments that, in some cases, have proven dynamic changing. First, however, let’s look at trends that have unfolded as generally expected.
What was expected all cycle-long was that three deep blue state governors, Charlie Baker of Massachusetts, Larry Hogan of Maryland and to a lesser extent, Phil Scott of Vermont, would coast to new terms and, for the most part, that has materialized. It was also anticipated that the Republican Governor of another deep-blue state, Bruce Rauner of Illinois, would be easy prey for a yet unknown rival (it turned out to be J.D. Pritzker) and that probably stayed on course more so than anyone expected. New Mexico is another state that had lived up to its anticipation of becoming enchanting for Democrats. What could not have been expected was that Tom Wolf would not even break a sweat in his bid for a second term but that’s what happened with a combustible nominee. More surprising: that Gretchen Whitmer’s bid to lead Michigan would basically be on turbo-drive throughout the entire year as she now appears to win by an intimidating margin, likely even bigger than the state’s indomitable Senator, Debbie Stabenow. This can also be attributed in part to an opponent, Bill Schuette, who ran an abominable (some say tasteless) campaign but also, because Whitmer was such a spot on campaigner. Finally, many viewed the Minnesota governorship as Tim Walz’s to lose since he decided to make a run for it, though the expectation was that his opponent would be one of his would-be predecessors, Tim Pawlenty. His surprise primary loss to Jeff Johnson only increased his glide to the Gopher State’s top job.
Now for the completely unexpected. That Florida would be poised to elect a progressive, African-American its next governor. Andrew Gillum was not supposed to be the Democratic nominee – not by a longshot (he was in fourth place in polls almost until his upset primary win). But his following was unmistakable and while the race is not over, polling, the zealousness of his supporters and voting trends point to Gillum in the driver seat.
That Georgia, initially thought to be a spirited but likely Republican hold, would dominate the gubernatorial attention and also, more possible than not, be on the verge of making history of its own. Put another way. If a runoff was to occur, who could’ve expected that Stacey Abrams would take first place but, if she does fall short of 50 percent plus one, the certainty of finishing on top f Secretary of State Brian Kemp is nearly assured. After all, at the risk of repeating myself, his campaign has been a bad joke that may be too much even for voters who lean to the right. Yet I believe – and I hope folks will say guts count for something, Abrams will pull ahead of 50%.
In Ohio, the view was that Attorney General and former U.S. Senator Mike DeWine would be tough competition for another former Attorney General, Richard Cordray. DeWine is still in the game but the pendulum that is Ohio appears to be shifting back toward the left, and that seems likely to benefit Cordary. In Wisconsin, battle-scarred Scott Walker has been dogged by third term fatigue all cycle but Democrats were far from certain they could find a top dog to take him out. That changed when they nominated Superintendent Tony Evers and it is probably enough to send him packing. In Iowa, a state that swung further to the right than any other in 2016, Kim Reynolds was seen as having a fighting chance to hold the job she ascended to when Terry Branstad was appointed Ambassador to China. She sure showed up for the fight but, businessman Fred Hubbell did as well and Hawkeye’s appear to be turning against Trump with a vengeance.
The unconventionality has enveloped states large and small. South Dakota has the longest Democratic drought in the nation – 40 years. But that seems more likely than not to change today as Democrat Billie Sutton appears to be in the driver seat. And in Rhode Island, most thought first-term Governor Gina Raimondo would have a very rocky ride to a second term but, odds of her losing have now dissipated to the point of near non-existence.
In Kansas and Maine, Democrats sensed strong opportunities to succeed immensely unpopular Republican administrations but, for much of the year, it was thought they’d be hampered by Independent candidacies. That is still the case but in Kansas, enough voters who were prepared to cast a vote for Greg Orman appear to have been persuaded that Kris Kobach’s win would be a continuation of ongoing policies or worse. Thus, Democrat Laura Kelly appears to have an edge. In Maine, one Independent remains (another dropped out) but Attorney General Janet Mills seems to have put enough distance between herself and the GOP nominee, Shawn Moody, to put the Blaine House in the Democratic column.
About the only good news for Republicans that has been far from certain until now. They should narrowly hold on to Oklahoma, where outgoing Governor Mary Fallon has posted the lowest job approvals of any chief executive. Alaska, where Independent Governor Bill Walker’s withdrawal was likely to late to help ex-Senator Mark Begich, will probably be a Republican gain. And Republicans dodged a Texas-sized bullet when Lupe Valdez beat Andrew White for the Democratic nomination to lead that state. Had White prevailed, he might have had a real opportunity to wrest the Lone Star State from Republicans given what seems to be going on at the federal level ala Beto O’Rourke and Ted Cruz.
Without further ado, let’s look at my predictions for tonight’s contests.
My Prediction of the Outcomes of the 2018 Governor’s Races
* denotes incumbent
Due to multiple third party candidates, percentages may not add up to 100%
Alabama Kay Ivey* (R) 55% Walt Maddox (D) 43%; Alaska Pick ’em; Arizona Doug Ducey Arkansas Asa Hutchinson* (R) 62% Jared Henderson (D) 35%; California Gavin Newsom (D) 59% John Cox (R) 41%; Colorado Jared Polis (D) 52% Walker Stapleton (R) 42%; Connecticut Ned Lamont (D) 44% Bob Stefanowski (R) 43% Nelson “Oz” Greibel (I) 10%; Florida Andrew Gillum (D) 51% Ron DeSantis (R) 46%; Georgia Stacey Abrams (D)51.4% Brian Kemp (R) 45%; Idaho Brad Little (R) 54% Paulette Jordan (D) 44%; Illinois J.B. Pritzker (D) 57%; Bruce Rauner* (R) 30% Sam McCann (I) 12%; Iowa Fred Hubbell (D) 52% Kim Reynolds* (R) 45%; Kansas Laura Kelly (D) 48% Kris Kobach (R) 43% Greg Orman (I) 8%; Maine Janet Mills (D) 47% Shawn Moody (R) 37% Terry Hayes (I) 15%; Maryland Larry Hogan* (R) 54% Ben Jealous (D) 42%; Massachusetts Charlie Baker*(R) 67% Jay Gonzalez (D)33%; Michigan Gretchen Whitmer (D) 56% Bill Schuette (R) 40%; Minnesota Tim Walz (D)54% Jeff Johnson (R) 40%; Nebraska Pete Ricketts* (R) 57% Bob Krist (D) 43%; Nevada Steve Sisolak (D) 49% Adam Laxalt (R) 44%; New Hampshire New Mexico Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) 56% Steve Pearce (R) 44%; New York Andrew Cuomo* (D) 59% Marc Molinaro (R) 37% Ohio Richard Cordray (D) 52% Mike DeWine (R) 46%; Oklahoma Kevin Stitt (R) 49% Drew Edmondson (D) 48%; Oregon Kate Brown* (D) 48% Knute Buehler (R) 45; Pennsylvania Tom Wolf* (D) 58% Scott Wagner (R) 38%; Rhode Island Gina Raimondo* (D) Allan Fung (R) South Carolina Henry McMaster* (R) 53% Jim Smith (D) 47%; South Dakota Billie Sutton (D) 52% Kristie Noem (R) 44%; Tennessee Bill Lee (R) 51% Karl Dean (D) 43%; Texas Greg Abbott* (R) 56% Lupe Valdez (D) 41%; Vermont Phil Scott* (R) 50% Christine Hallquist (D) 40%; Wisconsin Tony Evers 50% Scott Walker* (R) 44%; Wyoming Mark Gordon (R) 55% Mary Throne (D) 40%