Governors' races 101: What's at stake outside Washington in 2010 election
Governors' races are happening in 37 states in the 2010 election. The candidates focus on different issues depending on their states, but one stands out – state budget deficits.
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What are the differences between the states' political environment and the national one?Skip to next paragraph
The political landscape is never the same locally as in Washington. Year after year, Democrats and Republicans challenge for governorships in states where the parties barely even bother campaigning during presidential elections. Democrats have held the governor's mansion in Wyoming and Oklahoma for two terms apiece, while Republican governors have been at the helm in deep-blue states like California, Hawaii, and Rhode Island for most of the decade.
State parties – and as a result, gubernatorial candidates – tend to be more closely aligned with local sensibilities than with the national parties.
Who are the candidates?
Despite the talk about 2010 being a year for political outsiders, most of the gubernatorial candidates come from within the political system – five former governors are trying to reclaim their seats. Of the candidates already nominated by their parties at the time of this writing, four are lieutenant governors, four are state attorneys general, and many of the rest are state representatives and senators, along with a few congressmen and mayors.
Already, eight of the nominated candidates are women. (The record is 10, and women are favored in some of the remaining primaries.) Only two races for governor have been all-female before. There are two in this election cycle – in New Mexico and Oklahoma.
It will not be possible to gauge the full impact of third-party candidacies until they all materialize in the fall, but this is shaping up to be an election cycle full of outsiders who could affect governors' races. Genuine three-way races are ramping up in Connecticut and Maine, and independents in Massachusetts and Colorado – former Democrat Tim Cahill and former Republican Tom Tancredo, respectively – could swing elections by leaching support from their former parties.
Four races to watch
(R) Meg Whitman
To stitch up the black hole that is the state budget, Californians will choose between two types of management experience: Mr. Brown’s previous stint as governor 20 years ago, and Ms. Whitman’s successes as the CEO of eBay.
(D) Gov. Pat Quinn
(R) State Sen. Bill Brady
California gets all the attention for dysfunction, but Illinois has a massive budget deficit and adds a political culture reeling from corruption. Mr. Quinn, the former lieutenant governor who took office after Rod Blagojevich was impeached, barely survived his primary.
(R) Gov. Jan Brewer
How big a role will the immigration controversy play in this election? It already led Governor Brewer to remove Mr. Goddard, who opposes Arizona’s new immigration statute, from the state’s defense of a federal government lawsuit.
Primary: Sept. 14
Which is more surprising: that Independent former Sen. Lincoln Chafee pledged to raise taxes as he launched his campaign, or that voters responded by giving him a bump in the polls? Mr. Chafee leads a three-way race.