DemDaily: Who Governs? The 2018 Governors Races

October 1, 2018

Nationwide, Republicans control two-thirds of the Governors' seats. The midterm elections, however, present an opportunity for Democrats to not only reverse that trend, but make a critical impact on the 2020 elections and the future makeup of Congress.

Republicans currently hold 33 Governors' seats to Democrats' 16. There are 36 Governors races are up in 2018, with Republicans defending 26 seats compared to Democrats' nine.

As a state's highest-ranking elected official, Governors are administrators of their state, responsible for dictating policy, overseeing the budget, agencies, military forces and its executive branch.  The power of each Governor varies with each state constitution, depending on his or her veto power over legislation and the official body that draws the state's electoral map in redistricting.

As chief executive of his or her state, a Governor is more similar to a US President, but on a smaller state scale (and why serving as Governor is considered the best training ground for the White House).

Current Gubernatorial Map

Politically, Governors are more independent, in practice, and in the eyes of the voters.  There are ten states where both state legislative chambers are controlled by one party, but have elected Governors of different party.

In midterm elections, gubernatorial elections usually follow the political environment, which is good news for Democrats.

In 2018, Democrats are favored to pick up as many as nine seats, with top pick targets in Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Maine, Nevada, Ohio and Wisconsin.

By contrast, Republicans, at present, are favored to pickup only one independently-held seat, in Alaska.

But the long term outcome of 2018 will be particularly criticial to the 2021 redistricting process where, in some states, taking the Governor's mansion means taking control of the redistricting process and the state's next Congressional map.

According to National Democratic Redistricting Committee (NDRC), the Governor's races most important to shifting or retaining the balance of power in the redistricting process, include: Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and Wisconsin.

Top Targeted Governor's Races
Red/Blue=Held by Republican/Democrat. Incumbents bolded. If Independent, grouped with alligned Party.
Ratings based on review of major publications, with final call by DemList

State
Incumbent Status
Republican Nominee
Democratic Nominee Rating
Alabama
On Ballot Kate Ivey Walt Maddox Safe Rep
Alaska
On Ballot Mike Dunleavy (R) Bill Walker (Ind),
Mark Begich (D)
Lean Rep
Arizona
On Ballot Doug Ducey David Garcia Lean Rep
Arkansas
On Ballot Asa Hutchinson Jared Henderson Safe Rep
California
OPEN (Jerry Brown
/Term-Limited)
John Cox Gavin Newsom Safe Dem
Colorado
OPEN (John Hickenlooper
/Term-Limited)
Walker Stapleton Jared Polis Lean Dem
Connecticut
OPEN (Dan Malloy
/Retiring)
Bob Stefanowski Ned Lamont Lean Dem
Florida
OPEN (Rick Scott/
Running for Senate)
Ron DeSantis
Andrew Gillum Toss Up
Georgia
OPEN (Nathan Deal
/Retiring)
Brian Kemp Stacy Abrams Toss Up
Hawaii
On Ballot Andria Tupola David Ige Safe Dem
Idaho
OPEN (Butch Otter
/Retiring)
Brad Little Paulette Jordan Safe Rep
Illinois
On Ballot
Bruce Rauner
J.B. Pritzker Likely Dem
Iowa
On Ballot Kim Reynolds Fred Hubbell Toss Up
Kansas
OPEN (Jeff Coyler
/Lost Nomination)
Kris Kobach Laura Kelly Toss Up
Maine
OPEN (Paul LePage
/Term Limited)
Shawn Moody Janet Mills Lean Dem
Maryland
On Ballot Larry Hogan Ben Jealous Likely Rep
Massachusetts
On Ballot Charlie Baker Jay Gonzalez Safe Rep
Minnesota
OPEN (Mark Dayton
/Retiring)
Jeff Johnson Tim Walz (DFL/DemFarmLabor) Likely Dem
Michigan
OPEN (Rick Snyder
/Term Limited)
Bill Schuette
Gretchen Whitmer
Likely Dem
Nebraska
On Ballot Pete Ricketts Bob Krist Safe Rep
Nevada
OPEN (Brian Sandoval
/Term Limited)
Adam Laxalt
Steve Sisolak
Lean Dem
New Hampshire
On Ballot Chris Sununu Molly Kelly Lean Rep
New Mexico
OPEN (Susana Martinez
/Term Limited)
Steve Pearce
Michelle Lujan Grisham Likely Dem
New York
On Ballot Marcus Molinaro Andrew Cuomo Safe Dem
Ohio
OPEN (John Kasich
/Term Limited)
Mark Dewine
Richard Cordrey
Toss Up
Oklahoma
OPEN (Mary Fallin
/Term Limited
Kevin Stitt Drew Edmondson Lean Rep
Oregon
On Ballot Knute Buehler Kate Brown Likely Dem
Pennsylvania
On Ballot Scott Wagner Tom Wolf Likely Dem
Rhode Island
On Ballot Allan Fung Gina Raimondo Lean Dem
South Carolina
On Ballot Henry McMaster James Smith, Jr. Likely Rep
South Dakota
OPEN (Dennis Daugaard

/Term Limited)

Kristi Noem Billie Sutton Likely Rep
Tennessee
OPEN (Bill Haslam
/Term Limited)
Bill Lee Karl Dean Likely Rep
Texas
On Ballot Greg Abbott Lupe Valdez Safe Rep
Vermont
On Ballot
Phil Scott
Christine Hallquist Safe Rep
Wisconsin
On Ballot
Scott Walker
Tony Evers Toss Up
Wyoming
OPEN (Matt Mead
/Term Limited)
Mark Gordon Mary Throne Safe Rep

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Kimberly Scott
Publisher

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Sources: DGA, Wikipedia, Ballotpedia, Bloomberg, Rothenberg, DailyKos, Sabato

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