As pundits and politicians alike try to read Senate results on Tuesday and count to 51, don’t forget the number 40: that’s how many Governors will be elected on the same day (well, maybe just 39, see below). Gubernatorial elections usually play second fiddle to the Congressional results in midterms, but since the American people have sent sitting or former governors to the White House (or kept them there) in 7 out of the last 10 elections, it makes sense to keep at least one eye on them. Below is my (admittedly completely unscientific) list of the ones to watch – and keep in mind, no one had “Georgia” in 1970 (when Jimmy Carter won his only term).
Closing at 7PM
Florida (sort of): I’ll admit that a call in the Scott-Crist race is unlikely before the Panhandle counties close at 8, but if Crist pulls it off, it will be quite the comeback and likely enough to have some Democrats talking about him as a Vice Presidential nominee. Sure, he seems a self-obsessed opportunist now, but if he wins, he’s a winning self-obsessed opportunist. As for Scott, if he can get re-elected, don’t be surprised if White House whispers follow. I know what you’re thinking – Rick Scott? President?! – and truth be told, I am, too; but he will get some whispers, particular during that week in the summer of 2015 when we all tell ourselves that voters might just decide to forget about likeability this time. Once we come to our senses, that will all go away.
Georgia: Largely because the Democrat is another Carter (who will also get national ticket discussion if he wins).
Closing at 8PM
Maine: The GOP could have a very good night in New England (Massachusetts and Connecticut, which also close at 8, look ripe for the picking), but the lone Republican incumbent in the region (Paul LePage) has made major steps in welfare reform during his tenure. The three-way nature of the race gives him an edge; if he wins another term, he could become the Teabrewer favorite (among Governors) for 2016 (although if, as expected, he is under 50%, he can’t exactly say he could bring his home state with him).
Pennsylvania: This one is for health reasons. If Governor Tom Corbett (R) wins, that means a Stand-like virus wiped out Philadelphia, and humanity has about a month left. Seriously, “Tom Corbett Re-elected” = We’re all going to die.
Illinois: This is a test of how bad a Democrat can govern and still get re-elected. More to the point, A Quinn re-election could very well put Illinois in the pole position for the first state to threaten default and ask for federal bailout.
Closing at 9PM
Rhode Island: The state most favorable to Democrats at the national level hasn’t put one in the Governor’s chair in over 20 years (although Lincoln Chafee became a Democrat last year). If voters elect Republican Allan Fung, it could be a serious help to winning Chinese-American voters. If…
Kansas: The Kansas Republican Party routinely divides into open (political) warfare, which the smart Democrat can exploit. Sam Brownback’s Gilmore-like interventions in legislative primaries was more than enough to ensure an opportunity for the Dems. If he loses, lefty pundits across the nation will cheer the “end” of tax cuts as a political winner. Of course, if he wins, they’ll deny the existence of Kansas.
Wisconsin: There are two ways the 2016 race for the Republican nomination can begin. The party could atomize around a slew of candidates: the policy-wonks for Bobby Jindal, Teabrewers Paul LePage, Establishment types for John Kasich (likely to be re-elected in Ohio), Chris Christie, or even Jeb Bush (although I suspect only one of them will run)…or Scott Walker could win re-election, and suck all the oxygen out of the room. Seriously, if Walker wins, he becomes the Republican front-runner. Again, if…
Finally, New Mexico: Susanna Martinez will likely win a second term, and top everyone’s short list for Vice President.
There are some races that would be more interesting if they weren’t so lopsided (Kasich in OH, Andrew Cuomo vs. Rob Astorino in NY, Texas, etc.), but voters in those states appear to have taken all the fun out of them long ago.
Still, odds are I missed something. Feel free to add to this list in the comments.
Cross-posted to Bearing Drift