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A Look at the 2014 Gubernatorial Landscape

Thirty-six statehouses are up for grabs, with a baker's dozen very competitive.

by
Scott Elliott

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August 11, 2014 - 12:02 am
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A lot of focus this election season is trained on the battle for Capitol Hill.  And rightly so, with the majority in the Senate up for grabs and Democrats hoping to avoid another harmful midterm election in the House.  But there are also a host of gubernatorial battles being waged this year.  In fact, the midterm elections every four years mark a bonanza of statehouse contests. Thirty-six of the nation’s fifty states will be choosing their chief executive this November.

In 2010, the last midterm election, thirty-seven gubernatorial elections produced a staggering 17 partisan takeovers – 11 by Republicans, 5 by Democrats, and independent Lincoln Chafee in Rhode Island.  Add to that count several states in which sitting governors were term-limited, decided against running for reelection, or lost their primary, and you have a remarkable statistic.  Twenty-six states — over half the states in the country — welcomed a new governor in 2011.

So do we have the same kind of shakeup in store in 2014?  Probably not, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of interesting and competitive races to enjoy this year.

Here’s a look at a baker’s dozen of states which have at least a decent chance of electing a governor from a different party on Election Day.  I’ve ranked them and categorized them according to their level of vulnerability.

Easy Pickup (1 Republican)

  1. Pennsylvania – Republican Tom Corbett is struggling mightily under approval ratings that make President Obama’s numbers look enviable.  Former Pennsylvania Revenue Secretary Tom Wolf is the prohibitive favorite to earn the takeover.

Lean Toward Takeover (2 Democrats)

  1. Arkansas – If Democrat Governor Mike Beebe were free to run for a third term, this race would not be on this list.  As it turns out, however, he is term-limited, and the door is open for a Republican to win the statehouse this year in this ever-reddening state. Asa Hutchinson, the former congressman, is the GOP nominee.  All three polls taken recently give him leads ranging from 3 to 6 points over Democrat Mike Ross, another former congressman.
  2. Hawaii – Democrat Governor Neil Abercrombie has a treacherous re-election path ahead of him.  First, he must contend with a strong primary challenge from state Senator David Ige.  Then, if he survives, he faces a daunting three-way race with Mufi Hannemann, former Democratic mayor of Honolulu, siphoning off votes as an independent.  And, to top it off, the Republican nominee, former Lt. Governor Duke Aiona, is ahead in the polls.  Despite Hawaii’s very deep blue hue, Aiona appears well-positioned to earn the governorship.

All Comments   (11)
All Comments   (11)
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We live in interesting times ...

Regarding Scott Walker, while I hope he prevails this year, he may only serve until 2016 ... if he makes a move to the White House. That possibility may play into this year's election, but I don't think it will be significant ... conservatives/Republicans have endured a lot to keep him in office, and will be quite resistant to quibble over this and let the Democrat win.
9 weeks ago
9 weeks ago Link To Comment
I see a lot of R's struggling to hold on.

Rick Scott of FL was a lousy candidate the first go-around. Fortunately for him, Crist is also a lousy candidate who will drive Repubs to the polls to vote agin him.

Scott Walker is a Repub hero, so he is fighting the entire Dem Party, especially the unions and the Press. I expect he will prevail, though. His State is better off than when he began.

Brownback never appealed to me, and I am a Conservative! He always seemed the dogmatic type. He instituted Conservative policies, without really understanding when, why, and how they work... especially when. So his State is struggling. The money is running out. Any transition like this is tough. Cannot have effective Conservative policies, while people are still addicted to free stuff. Sudden transitions are really tough. He should have eased into some things.
9 weeks ago
9 weeks ago Link To Comment
(edit function not working)

Susana Martinez was talked about as potential Repub Presidential candidate. She is an effective Governor. So why is she struggling for re-election? Oh, right, NM is a Blue State, like WI. Hard for Conservatives to hold on. Apparently, results are not enough.
9 weeks ago
9 weeks ago Link To Comment
When you are running against a high priest of the Cult of the Credentialed and Connected Omniscient, it's kind of hard to win over the true believers.
9 weeks ago
9 weeks ago Link To Comment
Florida has an opportunity to get rid of both corrupt candidates. It only takes 34 % this time to win. Check out Adrian Wyllie.
9 weeks ago
9 weeks ago Link To Comment
The former Senator's daughter in the Senate race, and former president's grandson in the gubernatorial race here in Georgia, only demonstrate how poor the Democrats' prospects really are here. Political dynasties don't sit well in 21st-century Georgia.

Then again, the Republicans' Senate nominee is a former governor's nephew...
9 weeks ago
9 weeks ago Link To Comment
I hope so. Amy's bid in politics failed, and now we have Son of Amy. Where else could Jimmy Carter be considered positive? (At least Chelsea doesn't seem to be an Amy. We hope.)
9 weeks ago
9 weeks ago Link To Comment
Abercrombie already lost (and conceded). He's out.
9 weeks ago
9 weeks ago Link To Comment
Gee, I wonder how Pat Quinn could have possibly eeked out a .5% margin of victory in the 2010 Illinois Governor's race? It must be magic........
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
Flinchy suburban moms - Mark Kirk won his Senate seat with votes from them that did not go to Santorum-lite Bill Brady for the governorship. The Rs simply are using the Kirk formula with the Rauner candidacy - nonthreatening squishy North Shore guy.
9 weeks ago
9 weeks ago Link To Comment
AKA part of the Chicago GOP Machine ... like George Ryan in 1998.

I remember how that worked out ... and my vote for Glenn Poshard (imagine, me voting for a Democrat!) was validated.
9 weeks ago
9 weeks ago Link To Comment
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