This is the third and final installment of a look at the gubernatorial races in 2018.
John Kasich will leave office with a strong 57% approval rating as he is term-limited. Four very strong and viable Republicans will fight it out in the primary while former US Rep. Betty Sutton is the biggest name in the mix for the Democrats. The Republicans are: state attorney general Mike DeWine, US Rep. Jim Renacci, state secretary of state Jon Husted, and Lt. Governor Mary Taylor. Except for Renacci, all are in the Kasich administration. Prediction at this point: Republican hold.
Oklahoma incumbent Governor Mary Fallin is term limited and will leave office with a dismal 35/55 approval/disapproval rating. That may put declared GOP possible successor Doug Lamb at a disadvantage by association. There are six declared Republicans in the primary. Oklahoma is one of the states that uses a primary runoff to determine a nominee if they fail to reach 50%, a real possibility in 2018. There are four Democrats vying for the nomination so they too might face a runoff. It would be hard to see any Democrat prevailing in a general election despite the former Governor’s approval rating. Prediction at this point: Republican hold.
I won’t spend too much time on this state as Kate Brown, the Democratic incumbent, is up for reelection, faces no primary or general election opponents yet and has a 53/33 approval/disapproval rating as of now. Ordinarily, that would be cause for concern. However, with no real viable Republicans even considering, prediction at this point: Democratic hold.
Democratic incumbent Tom Wolf will run for reelection in 2018 with no primary opponents as of now. Entering office in 2014 with an aggressive agenda, he ran into reality: a Republican-held legislature which put a check on some of his pet projects. He is not that popular a Governor with an approval rating of 48% which has been holding steady. This may be a state to watch in 2018. Only three Republicans have declared their candidacy and none are particularly big names. Prediction at this point: Although it may be very close, Democratic hold.
Gina Raimondo, the Democratic incumbent is the second worst Democratic Governor (after Dan Malloy) in the country with a 43% approval rating and a 47% disapproval rating. Unfortunately, this is Rhode Island and that may be enough to get her reelected in the state. Still, two Republicans have taken the plunge and with the right economic message- Rhode Island is bleeding population- they have a chance. Going on a limb here, but prediction at this point: Republican pick-up.
Henry McMaster became Governor when Nikki Haley went to the UN. He will run in the 2018 primary against three other candidates. So far, the Democrats have no candidates. Although the name on the office door may change, prediction at this point: Republican hold.
Dennis Daaugard is the term-limited Republican Governor of South Dakota who will leave office with a whopping 65% approval rating. No matter who runs on either side, it is likely the next Governor will be Republican. Only one Democrat is in the fray- state senator Billy Sutton, and four Republicans, the most likely of which will be US Rep. Kristi Noem, once considered a rising star for the GOP in Congress. Prediction at this point: Republican hold.
Bill Haslam is another term-limited Republican incumbent. This open race has attracted six Republicans and two Democrats so far. Although no one associated with his popular administration is running, two state legislators (both women) stand the best chance for the GOP. Prediction at this point: Republican hold.
Go to any liberal/progressive website and they will extol the virtues of their “Turn Texas Blue” project for the Democratic Party. It’s a nice slogan and a nice idea, but it has been met with a lack of success. In 2014, Republican incumbent Greg Abbott decimated abortion one-trick pony Wendy Davis sending her into political obscurity. Since then, with a 60% approval rating, one cannot see Abbott being defeated in 2018, although he did draw a primary opponent. No Democrats are declared yet meaning that even they realize that Texas isn’t so blue after all. Prediction at this point: Republican hold.
Yes, a Republican Governor presides in the Soviet Socialist Republic of Vermont- Phil Scott. And the guy has a 62% approval rating. And he has no primary opponent. And, no Democrats have declared their candidacy. So, yes the prediction at this point: Republican hold.
Republican Governor and former presidential candidate Scott Walker is up for reelection and is the only one from the GOP currently running. Four Democrats- none of them really big names- are vying for the nomination. However, name status does not mean too much for two reasons. First, Wisconsin politics is fickle and sometimes difficult to gauge. Second, Walker’s approval rating in Wisconsin stands at 43% and has been steady at that level for some time. Worse, more people- 51%- disapprove of his performance. Those are the negatives. On the positive side, he did become a Republican Governor in a blue state. He did overcome a recall effort. He did increase his stature with his dalliance in presidential politics (although he fizzled out early, he did nothing to embarrass himself). Given the unpredictable nature of Wisconsin politics (who other than Trump expected him to win the state?), this one is difficult. Prediction at this point: Toss Up.
The highly popular (67% approval) incumbent Republican Matt Mead is term-limited. Thus far, only one Republican and no Democrats have declared their candidacy. Perhaps the reddest of red states, this one takes no exercise in logic. Prediction at this point: Republican hold.
To summarize: in 2017, it will likely be a wash as the GOP loses in New Jersey, but wins in Virginia.
At this point, this writer is predicting GOP pick-ups in Alaska, Connecticut, and Rhode Island
I am predicting toss-ups in Colorado, Iowa, Michigan, New Mexico, and Wisconsin.
The Democrats will likely pick up Illinois and Maine. Assuming toss-ups go to the Democrats, that would represent a net gain of 3 Governor’s offices. If the GOP holds the toss up states and wins Colorado, Republicans gain two offices. All in all, not a bad year for the GOP in gubernatorial races.