2016 Gubernatorial Races- February News

Gubernatorial news increased a little in February, so here we go:

Indiana:  Eric Holcomb dropped out of the open Senate race and will instead run on the same ticket as incumbent Republican Governor Mike Pence as his Lt. Governor.  Current Lt. Governor Sue Ellerspun will be stepping down to become president of a college.

New Hampshire:  Manchester mayor Ted Gatsas is rumored to be interested in entering the GOP primary.  Dynamics are in his favor for entering the race although it may prove a difficult slog.  Chris Sununu has been running for months while Frank Edelblut is also apparently in (he is quite wealthy).  Gatsas may view this as his best chance.  He won his last mayor’s race by only 64 votes and would have to run for reelection in 2017 when he may lose.  If that is the case, it would foreclose a gubernatorial run in 2018 (New Hampshire gubernatorial terms are two years).  It is a calculated risk, but this may be his best chance this year.

North Carolina:  The most recent poll, conducted by Elon University, has Democratic challenger, State attorney general Roy Cooper, up 42-40 over incumbent Republican Pat McCrory.  A previous poll by Elon had Cooper up by five points (45-40) while a PPP poll had McCrory leading 43-40.  One can expect these numbers to fluctuate back and forth and be close.

Vermont:  We have a poll out of Vermont showing that Matt Dunne leads Sue Minter on the Democratic side.  However, the Democratic field likely is not really set as at least three others are said to be considering jumping in.  For example, Shap Smith put his campaign on hold back in November after his wife was diagnosed with cancer.  However, it appears that with his wife improving he is ready to jump back into the fray.

On the Republican side, Lt. Governor Phil Scott leads super-rich guy Bruce Lisman by an overwhelming majority.  Lisman is worth about $50 million and if he opens the coffers, the GOP primary could potentially get interesting.  The poll did not measure hypothetical match ups, but 66% of respondents said they were leaning towards Phil Scott.

West Virginia:  A poll out of the Mountain State shows that in the Democratic primary coal billionaire Jim Justice leads his opponents Booth Goodwin and Jeff Kessler.  There has not been a Republican Governor in West Virginia since 1996, but that could be changing this year if current trends hold.  However, that same poll shows that likely Republican candidate, state senate president Bill Cole, would have the toughest time against Justice and his lead against Goodwin and Kesler is tenuous.  Kesler does not have the name recognition of the Goodwin name nor the money of Justice, but he is channeling his inner Leftist and endorsing Bernie Sanders over Hillary Clinton.  This is a double-edged sword for Kesler.  Polling shows Sanders with a massive lead over Clinton in the Democratic presidential primary which will be held on the same day as the gubernatorial primary.  If Sanders wins the state, Kesler could potentially ride his coat tails.  But, if Clinton wins the nomination and Kesler wins the nomination, then it would likely turn off West Virginia Democratic voters and there would be a Republican Governor.

The West Virginia Coal Association which represents about 90% of the state’s coal industry has endorsed Cole in the race despite Justice being a coal mining executive.  Further, they do not reflexively endorse Republican candidates and most recently endorsed current term-limited Governor Earl Ray Tomblin.

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