2016 Gubernatorial Races: September News

There was a lot of action on the 2016 gubernatorial front, so let’s get to it:

DELAWARE: At large Congressman [mc_name name=’Rep. John Carney (D-DE)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’C001083′ ] will run for the term-limited office of Jack Markell.  Carney barely lost to Markell in the 2008 Democratic primary.  He may get a primary challenge from New Castle County GOP chief John Gordon.  That county has the highest concentration of registered Democrats.  As Larry Hogan proved in neighboring Maryland, under the right conditions, anything can happen.  This may be a sleeper race to watch in 2016.  No sooner did Carney announce than he received the endorsements of Delaware’s US Senators.

INDIANA: Incumbent GOP Governor Mike Pence still has no primary opponent as state senator Mike Delph has ruled himself out.  However, state house speaker Brian Bosma was allegedly approached by some GOP operatives fearful that Pence may be in trouble come 2016.  Pence’s handling of the state RFRA is dogging him from all angles and they are hoping to put that behind him by adding sexual orientation to the state’s civil rights code (i.e., capitulating to the LBGT lobby!).  That will happen in January, 2016 at the earliest and the fight could be ugly.  Who would have thought that Indiana would be ground zero in the gay rights debate?  Of course, if Pence had shown some backbone earlier this year, his reelection numbers would not be so low, but that is a whole other story…

MISSOURI: Former Navy Seal Eric Greitens joins the GOP primary that already includes Catherine Hanaway, Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder and state senator Bob Dixon.  Randy Asbury, who was in the mix, recently pulled himself out.  Meanwhile, John Brunner will most likely become the fifth GOP candidate as he is expected to announce the launch of his campaign on October 5th.  Incidentally, in 2010 the Democrats unsuccessfully tried to recruit Greitens to run for a House seat.

NEW HAMPSHIRE: Chris Sununu, a name with a political pedigree in the state, announced he would run regardless of what Hassan decides.  There are other viable names in the mix, but his early entry, connections and name recognition may scare a few prospective candidates away.  If Hassan decides to run for the Senate, several Democrats are prepared to enter this race including Stefany Shaheen, the daughter of a former governor and senator.  Other than the name, being on the city council of New Hampshire’s 19th largest city may prove to be a problem.

NORTH DAKOTA:  In a development largely greeted with yawns from North Dakota voters, Lt. Governor Drew Wrigley who is considering a run admitted that he had an affair.  Wrigley, however, is said to be coordinating any entry into the race with state attorney general Jeff Stenejham with the goal of NOT both seeking the GOP nomination.  In the meanwhile, Heitkamp decided against a run for Governor and will remain in the Senate.  This makes national Democrats happy.  Now the attention turns to her radio show host brother, Joel, who may be in the hunt.  Thus far, Republican state representative Rick Becker is the only candidate for either party.

OREGON: Monica Wehby, who was thoroughly defeated by [mc_name name=’Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’M001176′ ] in a Senate bid in 2014, was said to be interested in a gubernatorial run.  Although she has the name recognition in the state because of that effort, not all of it was good.  And as soon as her name was mentioned, she ruled herself out.  Meanwhile, Dennis Richardson, who lost by a little over 5 points to the since resigned John Kitzhaber in 2014, has ruled out another run.

VERMONT:  Little tiny socialist Vermont is getting interesting since wealthy businessman Bruce Lisman has entered the race on the GOP side.  Although the Vermont GOP establishment is pushing Lt. Governor Phil Scott, this is welcome news since Lisman was considering an independent run.  Taking that possibility away slightly bolsters the chances for the GOP.  But the news gets better as Lt. Governor Phil Scott, who was heavily recruited, entered the race  But the news gets even even better!  The state’s Progressive Party, which actually finished second the last time they ran a candidate, has changed strategy for 2016.  Usually, they support the Democratic candidate and allow fusion voting in the state.  They have not run a candidate in the last three elections.  Instead of Lisman costing the eventual Republican candidate votes, the Progressive Party- which intends to run their own candidate in 2016- may cost Democrats votes thus allowing a Republican to win this seat.  It appears that even socialists sometimes have doubts about socialism.  And even, even, even better- another Democrat will enter the race on their side- Sue Minter- bringing their candidates to three.  A very competitive Democratic primary, two viable Republicans and a strong third party candidate… can’t get much better than this.

WASHINGTON:  There is a gubernatorial election in Washington in 2016 which means that the [mc_name name=’Rep. Dave Reichert (R-WA)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’R000578′ ] watch is on for the GOP.  This year may be different from other years since (1) the GOP is not expected to lose the House and (2) Reichert’s district is less of a target of opportunity for the Democrats than in previous cycles.  Who knows?  After 10 years in DC, maybe Reichert wants to return to his home state.  Reichert’s best chance for a general election victory would be for his campaign to spike the specialty coffees of Seattle and its suburbs with some commonsense.  Meanwhile, state senator Andy Hill has announced he would not run for the job deferring to family interests instead.  Most likely, he is really deferring to 2020 when there will be an “open” race (Washington does not have term limits, but governors rarely run for third terms).   Regardless, the GOP seems to be resigned to the fact that it will be Bill Bryant as some Republican faces are coalescing behind him.

WEST VIRGINIA:  Some polling out of the state shows a close and potentially contentious race on the Democratic side between Jim Justice and Jeff Kessler with Justice slightly leading in a poll his side commissioned.  Meanwhile, Republican Bill Cole has the primary all to himself for now.

The following chart summarizes the races and will be updated monthly:

G. Herbert- UT M. Pence- IN P. McCrory- NC
(J. Darymple-ND) OPEN
(J. Markell-DE) Open M. Hassan-NH ?? (P. Shumlin-VT) Open (J. Nixon- MO) Open
S. Bullock- MT (E. Tomblin-WV) Open
K. Brown- OR
J. Inslee- WA

That is it for now, join me at the end of October for the next recap.

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