2016 isn’t too far off and hell, 2010 isn’t either. 2014 is crucial for the GOP to fill in its bench for 2016 and beyond. We have a great bench of governors for 2016: Fallin, Haley, Walker, Christie, Martinez. I’ve handicapped the 2014 Senate races where the GOP will make gains. Now the gubernatorial races:
Term Limited Republicans
- Arizona (Jan Brewer): AZ law limits office holders to two consecutive terms and Brewer served out the remainder of Napolitano’s term and then was elected to her own term in 2010. The Dem bench is terrible and Brewer is challenging “ambiguities” within that law. GOP should hold with Brewer or Sec. of State Ken Bennett.
- Nebraska (Dave Heineman): Easily GOP hold.
Term Limited/Retiring Democrats
- Arkansas (Mike Beebe): already going to be a great picking opportunity for the GOP.
- Maryland (Martin O’Malley): easily a hold for the Democrats. O’Malley will be a 2016 player for the Democrats if Hillary doesn’t run.
- Massachusetts (Deval Patrick): eligible to run again but has declared retirement. In an open race, if Kerry doesn’t leave for State or Defense, Scott Brown could be a player, as well as 2010 Republican nominee Charlie Baker.
Republican Incumbents Running Again (Declared)
- Florida (Rick Scott): not terribly popular, but his saving grace is his job approval is on the rise. Former Republican and now Democrat Charlie Crist will run for his old job. I’m not sure how popular Crist is as a party switcher, lots of oppo material here. Tossup.
- Idaho (Butch Otter): easily retained.
- Nevada (Brian Sandoval): Sandoval is pretty popular as a Republican governor in a blue state. He’s also a darkhorse 2016 candidate if he wins again and he should. Hold.
Republican Incumbents Eligible to Run Again
- Alabama (Robert Bentley): regardless of his decision to run again or not, GOP will retain.
- Alaska (Sean Parnell): if he runs again, he will hold. He’s a darkhorse contender to run against Dem. Senator Mark Begich as well. GOP should hold this seat regardless.
- Georgie (Nathan Deal): will hold regardless of decision.
- Iowa (Terry Branstad): no decision made yet, polls have him up 2-4 points over potential opponents but down to current Ag Sec Vilsack. Branstad is also a darkhorse 2014 Senate candidate. If Branstad jumps to Senate race, Lt. Gov Kim Reynolds would be the favorite. GOP hold until Vilsack decides what he wants to do, then tossup.
- Kansas (Sam Brownback): GOP hold. No more Sebelius’ coming around
- Maine (Paul LePage): in a three way race, he won; in a rematch three-way race, he would lose. If 2014 is 2010, he can win again but he’s not terribly popular. However, the Democratic party has a hard time putting up good candidates. If he runs again, its an Independent pickup; if he doesn’t, depends on how jumps in for the Republicans – Charlie Summers….or Olympia Snowe? Right now, Dem pickup
- Michigan (Rick Snyder): his popularity is on the rise, so I will assume if he runs again, he wins. GOP hold.
- New Mexico (Susana Martinez): most popular Governor in the country. Up 12-13 points on potential challengers. GOP hold.
- Ohio (John Kasich): his popularity is on the rise and the Ohio economy is getting better by the month. He can win again. GOP hold.
- Oklahoma (Mary Fallin): GOP hold regardless but it’s important she runs again as a female governor who is very popular. Darkhorse 2016 contender.
- Pennsylvania (Tom Corbett): not very popular and will probably lose if he runs again. Dem pickup.
- South Carolina (Nikki Haley): another governor we need to stay in office and I think she will run again. GOP hold.
- South Dakota (Dennis Daugaard): should run again barring a surprise entrance into the Senate race, but all decisions on that are based on former Gov. Rounds’ decision. GOP hold.
- Tennessee (Bill Haslam): GOP hold.
- Texas (Rick Perry): if he runs again, he’s very vulnerable to a primary challenge by AG Greg Abbot. If he wins that, he will win the race because the Dem party in Texas is in shambles, they can’t win statewide. GOP hold. A Governor Abbot could be a contender in 2020…A Governor Perry is a 2016 dud (again, haha).
- Wisconsin (Scott Walker): blue state governor who won, was recalled, won again, and should win again; the Dem bench is awful with Tammy Baldwin going to D.C. GOP hold for Walker
- Wyoming (Matt Mead): GOP hold regardless.
Democrat Incumbents Eligible to Run Again
- California (Jerry Brown): he’s old and California is a blackhole. There’s a lot of Dems gunning for this (Newsom, Kamala Harris, Antonio Villaraigosa) and on the Republican side, the big name is Condoleezza Rice – she is a Republican California could elect (minority, moderate, pro-gay marriage, pro-choice). If Condi jumps in, its a top-tier race she can win. Tossup with Condi, Dem hold without.
- Colorado (John Hickenlooper): he was a darkhorse 2016-er if Hillary stayed out, but his recent divorce would suggest he will stay out and run again. Dem hold.
- Connecticut (Dan Malloy): he’s not popular and a rematch with Tom Foley would probably swing the GOP’s way. GOP pickup for Foley
- Hawaii (Neil Abercrombie): Dem hold. No Linda Lingle walking through the door.
- Illinois (Pat Quinn): he’s very unpopular (most Illinois governors are); this is a prime pickup opportunity for Republicans – he’s unpopular and the state economy is in shambles. GOP pickup
- Minnesota (Mark Dayton): Dem hold. I’m sick of waiting for Minnesota to turn purple again.
- New Hampshire (Maggie Hassan): NH makes you run every two years rather than four; NH is prone to wild partisan swings in midterms so she isn’t safe. I will lean Dem hold as she hasn’t even taken office yet!
- New York (Andrew Cuomo): Dem hold. Look out 2016!
- Oregon (John Kitzhaber): probable Dem hold barring Greg Walden skipping the Senate race and gunning for governor. Dem hold.
- Vermont (Peter Shumlin): Dem hold regardless of decision.
Independents Eligible to Run Again
- Rhode Island (Lincoln Chafee): he’s very unpopular; if he runs again, GOP pickup; if he says out, Dems technically pickup
The GOP needs its stars like Haley, Fallin, Sandoval, Walker, and Martinez to run again and win. They are all favorites. There’s opportunities for new faces (Abbot, Condi Rice, Scott Brown) that we need to take advantage of.