2016 Gubernatorial Races: October Happenings

MISSOURI: With John Brunner’s entry into the GOP primary, the number of candidates has now risen to five with Catherine Hanaway, Eric Greitens and Peter Kinder all viable candidates.  This should be an interesting primary.  But it is also a problem with so many candidates and the Democrat running all alone on the other side.  While Koster is building up a war chest, the others are vying for donors and using cash on the crowded primary.  Brunner is wealthy and can open his wallet while Hanaway is close to a big donor in Missouri.  Greitens, however, pulled in the most in the 3rd quarter almost matching Koster.  A lively primary is in store and this remains a good opportunity for the GOP to pick up another state.

NEW HAMPSHIRE: Now that Maggie Hassan has decided to run for the Senate, there is no shortage of Democrats lining up to run for Governor.  This could be a politically volatile state and anything is possible.  The ultimate end game would be for the GOP to pick up an unexpected Governor’s seat while keeping Ayotte in the Senate.  That is a distinct possibility.  Polls had Hassan up 8 points in a gubernatorial race, but down 3-4 points against Ayotte so it is a big calculated risk for Hassan that delights national Democrats but has local ones leery.  Also on the Democratic side, Colin Van Ostern is in and is very close to Anne Kuster who immediately endorsed them not waiting for Stefany Shaheen to announce her intentions.  But there is some good early polling news for Republican Chris Sununu showing he would beat either Shaheen or Van Ostern in a general election race.

NORTH CAROLINA: Left-leaning polling company PPP released some relatively bad news for the Democrats.  Incumbent Pat McCrory enjoys a 3-point lead over Ray Cooper which overcomes a 6-point deficit in August.  Although McCrory enjoys a relatively weak approval rating at 35%, he has enjoyed an advantage with independent voters.  With no viable primary opponents, assuming he can maintain the advantage with independents, Democrats fear the more conservative Republicans will come home to McCrory in 2016 and power him to reelection.

NORTH DAKOTA: Lt. Governor Drew Wrigley announced he would not run for the open Governor’s office in 2016.  That means that the watch is on for state attorney general Wayne Stenejham to enter the race.  For his part, Stenejhem said he will announce his intentions before Thanksgiving.  That is not stopping Doug Burgum from considering a run or even an independent run for that matter.  State treasurer Kelly Smith will decide in November also while state senator Tom Campbell, who actually formed an exploratory committee, is getting close to an actual decision (by the end of November).

VERMONT: Former Democratic state senator Peter Galbraith is making noise about entering the race.  This writer says the more the Democrats the merrier as they try to out-socialist one another.  Wait…it is  Vermont, the second Socialist Republic (after California).

WASHINGTON:  And coming in as no surprise, [mc_name name=’Rep. Dave Reichert (R-WA)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’R000578′ ] will not run for the GOP against Inslee.

WEST VIRGINIA: Democrat Jim Justice is out with advertisements touting how he is bringing coal jobs to the Mountain State.  Imagine that…a Democrat supporting coal.  In the topsy-turvy world that is 2016 politics, a Sanders-Trump match up is never out of the question…

This seems a little weird, but there is already some 2017 news to report:

NEW JERSEY:  Chris Christie is term-limited in 2017.  Phil Murphy, an ex-Goldman Sachs employee and ambassador to Germany, is running ads already introducing himself as a Democratic outsider.  The Democratic field could get crowded as the bench is fairly deep in blue Jersey.

VIRGINIA: GOP state senator Mark Obenshain- who lost his bid for state attorney general by 165 votes- announced he would not run for governor in 2017.  This seems to open the door for Ed Gillespie who ran a great campaign in 2014 against [mc_name name=’Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’W000805′ ] and threw a scare into the Democratic Senator.  Gillespie had been deferring to Obenshain.

The only change in rating occurred in New Hampshire where the race went from “Keep an Eye On” to “Toss Up.”

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