The team at Elections Daily is proud to present the first edition of our Gubernatorial ratings for the 2022 cycle. The release of these ratings complements our Senatorial ratings, which you can find here in an article written by Eric Cunningham.
There are 36 gubernatorial races up in 2022, most of which are expected to be competitive to some degree; 16 states are by Democrats, with 20 held by Republicans. We aren’t currently rating the three territorial gubernatorial races (Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, and the US Virgin Islands).
So far, we predict a flip in only one of the 36 gubernatorial contests: Maryland, a heavily Democratic state where popular Republican incumbent Larry Hogan is term-limited. When it comes to the remaining competitive seats we rate six seats as Leans Democratic (Connecticut, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, Pennsylvania) three seats as Leans Republican (Florida, Iowa, Ohio) and four seats as Tossups (Arizona, Georgia, Kansas, Wisconsin). We also have a handful of other states on our radar: four are rated as Likely Republican (Alaska, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont) and five are rated as Likely Democratic (Illinois, Maryland, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island).
However, given the extreme uncertainty of the political environment, it is likely that many of the races above will shift when it comes to the degree of competitiveness in the lead-up to election day over the next 22 months. All we know for certain at the moment is that this gubernatorial cycle is filled with many competitive races that both parties will be watching with a keen eye over the next year and a half.
Competitive States (13)
Connecticut (Leans Democratic)
The Constitution State is no longer competitive for Republicans at the federal level, but the GOP has been able to hold its own on the gubernatorial level for many years. This is best evidenced by the last three gubernatorial contests in the state, all of which have been won by Democrats by slim margins of around three points or less.
In 2018, a poor environment for the GOP, some Republicans feared that nominee Bob Stefanowski’s strong support for President Trump would stunt his chances in the general election. In the end, though, he managed to hold his own against Ned Lamont, whose three-point margin of victory was not much larger than those of his unpopular predecessor Dannel Malloy.
Regardless of how the national environment shapes up next year, we expect Connecticut to have another fierce battle for the Governor’s Mansion. While Lamont has seen has approval rating rise over the course of the coronavirus pandemic, he could still be vulnerable to a strong Republican challenger.
Given the likelihood of repeat ticket-splitting for a Democratic Senate candidate and a Republican gubernatorial candidate, like we saw in 2018, candidate recruitment will be the key to GOP victory. Some potential Republican candidates include Stefanowski, New Britain Mayor Erin Stewart, former State House Minority Leader Themis Klarides, and State Senator Heather Somers.
Maine (Leans Democratic)
Maine remains a Democratic-leaning state at the federal level, but its propensity for ticket splitting has allowed it to have its fair share of political irregularities and electoral oddities. The most prominent example of ticket splitting is the state’s re-election of long-time Republican Senator Susan Collins. In November, she won by nine points while the state voted for Democrat Joe Biden by the same margin. Another instance is the state’s 2nd Congressional district breaking for President Trump by around seven points while simultaneously re-electing Democratic Congressman Jared Golden by a respectable margin.
Unpredictable patterns like these, combined with an unknown environment, leave the fate of Democratic Governor Janet Mills uncertain. Currently, Mills is considered an early favorite against controversial ex-Governor Paul LePage, the Republican frontrunner. Despite the clear early advantages for Maine’s first female governor, we’ve learned not to count LePage out before a close fight.
Michigan (Leans Democratic)
Michigan has been a competitive state for decades, and while the state has traditionally favored Democrats in Presidential and Senatorial contests, it has been relatively even when it comes to its Gubernatorial races. Since the days of Democratic Governor James Blanchard (1983-1991), the governor’s mansion has changed hands after at least two terms of leadership by each respective party, with the only exception being Republican Governor John Engler, who served three terms. In fact, the last incumbent Governor to lose re-election after a single term was Democrat John Swainson in 1962.
Looking at this history, incumbent Democrat Gretchen Whitmer should feel fairly confident going into her re-election bid in the Wolverine State. Whitmer has drawn the ire of conservatives throughout the country as a result of her policies related to combating the coronavirus (even avoiding a kidnapping attempt shut down by the FBI last year), but she has managed to maintain a stable approval rating as of last year. Michigan’s marginally Democratic lean, along with the uncertainty of the Republican candidate bench, leaves Whitmer an early favorite for re-election.
Despite these advantages, we are by no means saying Whitmer is unbeatable. Whitmer will almost certainly have a competitive race, which would make her Michigan’s first Democratic governor since James Blanchard in 1990 to run a close re-election bid. As we mentioned before, the key to Republican success will be strong candidate recruitment. Potential GOP nominees include two-time Senate candidate John James, State Senator Tom Barrett, Representative Jack Bergman, and former Michigan House Speaker Lee Chatfield.
Minnesota (Leans Democratic)
Minnesota has been slowly trending toward the Republicans at the statewide level, but Democratic gains in the suburbs have helped offset the party’s losses with its traditional white working class base throughout rural areas in the south, west, and northwestern peninsula. The Land of 10,000 lakes remains a Democratic state, but it has had some close gubernatorial contests over the years, and a strong Republican environment could keep Democratic Governor Tim Walz on his toes.
Elected in 2018 over Jeff Johnson, who had by then had decisively knocked out establishment favorite and former Governor Tim Pawlenty in the primary, Walz garnered strong support from the Minneapolis area and its surrounding suburbs while also holding on to some of the party’s more traditional base in the 1st Congressional district, which Walz represented in the House prior to his bid for statewide office. This broad coalition, combined with a favorable environment, allowed him to secure his victory by a double-digit margin, the largest Democratic victory in a Minnesota gubernatorial contest since Rudy Perpich in 1986.
The GOP could certainly make a serious run for the Governor’s mansion in Minnesota, with its only obstacle being an uncertain statewide bench. Some names mentioned include Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, 2018 Senate nominee Karin Housley. MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell has expressed interest and would likely seek the endorsement of former President Donald Trump, However, has significantly damaged his reputation by repeating false claims against Dominion voting systems, among other conspiracy theories.
Nevada (Leans Democratic)
Traditionally a Republican state, Nevada has shifted toward the Democrats like many of its western neighbors. Democratic Governor Steve Sisolak’s victory over Republican Adam Laxalt in 2018 made him the first Democratic candidate to win a gubernatorial race in the Sagebrush State since Bob Miller in 1994. As of last year Sisolak’s approval rating had fallen, largely due to the impacts of coronavirus on Nevada’s tourism-based economy. Despite that, we currently consider Sisolak an early favorite in his re-election bid, largely because the Republican bench in Nevada is not particularly strong.
Potential candidates include 2018 nominee Adam Laxalt, former Senator Dean Heller, and Representative Mark Amodei. The best statewide candidate would certainly be Brian Sandoval, but he is barred from seeking the governor’s mansion again. If Sandoval runs for any elected office, it will probably be for the Senate. Both Amodei and Heller are unlikely candidates. Heller already lost a high-profile Senate race to Democrat Jacky Rosen in 2018 and Amodei does not want to give up Nevada’s only Safe Republican congressional district.
Florida (Leans Republican)
Over the last few years Florida has established itself as a state where the Republicans have a consistent, albeit narrow, advantage. The Sunshine State was one of only six to shift toward the Republicans between the 2016 and 2020 Presidential elections. Florida Republicans were also able to hold fast during a heavily-Democratic 2018 environment, retaining control of the governor’s mansion while simultaneously defeating long-time Democratic Senator Bill Nelson by a razor-thin margin. With these facts in mind, Governor Ron DeSantis starts his re-election campaign as an early favorite.
Last summer, some pundits were sounding the alarm about DeSantis’s re-election bid after his approval sank from its record highs as a result of his handling of the Coronavirus. Since then, though, DeSantis has seen his favorability numbers rise back into the green. If Florida continues to stick to its Republican statewide trend and DeSantis is able to replicate a winning coalition similar to former President Trump’s, he will be a difficult nut to crack for Democrats.
Don’t make the mistake of assuming this race won’t be competitive, though. For Florida Democrats, candidate recruitment is everything, and they have a lot of potential names who could be interested in making a bid for the governor’s mansion. The first name that comes to mind is Gwen Graham, a former US Representative and the daughter of ex-US Senator Bob Graham. Graham has been a vocal critic of DeSantis for the entirety of his tenure, and very well could have been governor right now if it weren’t for Andrew Gillum’s upset primary victory. While she hasn’t officially announced her interest in a gubernatorial bid, her online activity suggests she plans on running for something next year.
Other big names who have expressed interest so far on the Democratic side include Representative Charlie Crist, State Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried. Crist served one term as Governor (2007-2011) before declining to seek re-election. After an unsuccessful 2010 Senate bid he sought the governorship again in 2014, narrowly losing to Governor Rick Scott. Since 2017 he has served in Congress.
Fried could also be an appealing candidate. She won by only 0.08% in 2018 and is Florida’s only Democratic row officer. If she does run for Governor, she will be leaving an uncertain re-election bid to her row office to attempt a task that is arguably harder: defeating the sitting Governor, a feat that hasn’t been accomplished in decades.
Other potential Democratic candidates include State Senator Lauren Brook, Tampa Mayor Jane Castor, US Representative Val Demings, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, State Representative Anna Eskamani, Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, US Representative Stephanie Murphy, and Jason Pizzo.
Ex-Republican Representative David Jolly is also considering a statewide bid as an independent, which could be reminiscent of Charlie Crist’s quixotic 2010 Senate bid if it garners any traction.
Iowa (Leans Republican)
Iowa has solidified into a reliably Republican state at the federal level, but Democrats can still make statewide races competitive. Though the GOP held onto the Governor’s mansion in 2018, Democratic nominee Fred Hubbell only lost by around 3 points, performing better than the 2020 numbers attained by both Presidential nominee Joe Biden and Senate nominee Theresa Greenfield. Democrats also held two statewide row offices that year (Treasurer and Attorney General) while flipping the Auditor’s office from the Republicans.
Republican Governor Kim Reynolds was given her first full term by the electorate three years ago, succeeding Republican Terry Branstad, the longest-serving Governor in American history. As of last year, Reynolds had fared poorly when it came to the public’s approval of her handling of the coronavirus, but she managed to maintain modest numbers overall. While we’re still waiting to see new polling numbers, we believe that Reynolds will face a competitive re-election race, despite being considered an early favorite.
While it has become increasingly difficult for a Democrat to win Iowa on either level, the party has had a better record in statewide races in recent years. To keep pace, especially if the environment becomes beneficial for the GOP, the party will need a good candidate. Potential nominees include State Auditor Rob Sand and Representative Cindy Axne, the only remaining Democrat in Iowa’s Congressional delegation. Either way, as Hubbell and Greenfield have shown, being a good candidate alone is not always enough to succeed in the Hawkeye State.
Ohio (Leans Republican)
Like Iowa, Ohio tracked to the right during the Trump administration. Democratic support has almost completely dissolved in its eastern ancestral niches along the West Virginia border, and has begun a rapid decline in working-class steel country counties like Mahoning. Last November, Donald Trump became the first Republican Presidential candidate to win Mahoning since Richard Nixon in his 1972 landslide.
It hasn’t been all bad for Democrats, though. The party made important gains in and around major metros like Cincinnati, Columbus, and Cleveland in the last election, adding swathes of new voters to its coalition. Despite this, it currently remains to be seen if the Democrats will be able to rework their coalition to stave off their decline among their traditional base.
Republican Governor Mike DeWine, a household name and political veteran in Ohio, has remained popular in the state for his diligent response to COVID-19. Given his numbers, and Ohio’s Republican nature, DeWine starts his re-election bid as an early favorite. In fact, we currently believe that DeWine is more vulnerable to a primary challenge from the right than he is to a credible Democrat in a general election.
DeWine’s virus response has drawn criticism from some of the Buckeye state’s more conservative Republicans, and there are quite a few potential challengers that may decide to throw their hat into the ring. These include former Lieutenant Governor and 2018 candidate Mary Taylor, former Representative and Senate nominee Jim Renacci, and Representative Warren Davidson.
Democrats would likely prefer to face a more conservative, less experienced Republican than DeWine, but flipping Ohio will be a difficult task regardless of the Republican nominee. With the Democrats’ best recruit, US Representative Tim Ryan, running for Senate, the party is left with a weak bench. Potential candidates include Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, State House Minority Leader Emilia Sykes, former State Party Chairman David Pepper, and Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley.
Democratic fortunes in Arizona have grown over the last few years, largely as a result of gains in Maricopa County. Joe Biden became the first Democratic Presidential candidate to win the Grand Canyon state since Bill Clinton in 1996 and the Sinema-Kelly duo is the first time in decades that the state has had two Democratic Senators in Washington.
In 2018, then-popular Republican Governor Doug Ducey was able to easily win re-election over Democrat David Garcia. Since the advent of the coronavirus pandemic, though, Ducey’s approval ratings have dipped significantly, at one point hitting lows in the mid-30s. With Ducey term-limited and opting out of a potential 2022 Senate bid, Arizona’s Gubernatorial campaign is shaping up to be one of the most competitive open races of the cycle.
We believe the race is a pure tossup, regardless of the environment. Though Arizona has been trending toward the Democrats, it is not out of reach for the GOP. Contributing to our tossup rating is the relative uncertainty with relation to both party fields; we just don’t yet know how the primaries will play out.
Potential Republican candidates include Kirk Adams (Doug Ducey’s former Chief of Staff) Attorney General Mark Brnovich, State Treasurer Kimberly Yee, Arizona GOP Chairwoman Kelli Ward, and Representative David Schweikert. The weakest nominee would likely be Ward, a two-time Senate candidate whose tenure as Chairwoman has faced harsh criticism. Schweikert would also likely be a bane on Republican chances as a result of his ethics problems.
Possible Democrats include State House Minority Leader Charlene Fernandez, US Representatives Ruben Gallego, Greg Stanton, Tom O’Halleran, and Ann Kirkpatrick, along with Secretary of State Katie Hobbs. It is unclear how Arizona redistricting will pan out, but with the state almost certain to gain an additional seat in reapportionment it is possible that some of the members above might be inclined to make a statewide run.
A Republican state for the last two decades, Georgia now seems to be quickly returning to its Democratic heritage – albeit with a radically different coalition. With rural whites having been out of the picture for quite some time now, Georgia Democrats have formed a workable coalition made up of suburban whites alongside urban and rural African American voters. This modernized coalition, combined with lower rural white turnout, allowed Democrats to flip both Senate seats in the January runoffs, sending Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff to the Senate.
Governor Brian Kemp ran a controversial 2018 campaign, vividly remembered for its raucous advertising content that ranged from miniature explosions to Kemp infamously preparing to drive around in his pickup truck to patrol for “criminal illegals.” While his tactics might have seemed rather unorthodox to onlookers from out of state, his primary strategy of being more conservative than the opposition worked as it often does throughout the south, allowing him to easily win a runoff by energizing rural white voters.
With Georgia’s Democratic trends first manifesting themselves in his close general election campaign against Stacey Abrams, it’s no surprise that Kemp ended up narrowly clinging to a 1.4 point victory. But with the continuing fallout among traditionally-Republican voters around the Atlanta metro since then, it’s no surprise that Democrats finally saw statewide success just last month.
Given the rapidness of the changes we’ve seen in the Peach State, Kemp’s future is uncertain. Before he even gets to a general election, he has to overcome a potential primary challenge by a candidate running to his right. Both Kemp and Brad Raffensperger, the Secretary of State, are vulnerable to credible primary challenges if the heavily-white primary electorate continues to perceive the two of them as not having done enough to “help” former President Trump by obstructing President Biden’s legitimate, thrice-certified, victory in the state.
The former President played an important role in Republican primaries during the 2018 cycle, including Kemp’s runoff victory over Casey Cagle, and its easy to see him attempting to falter Kemp’s re-election bid if he maintains his influence over Georgia Republican primary voters. One potential challenger is former Representative Doug Collins, who failed to make the runoff in his bid against former Senator Kelly Loeffler.
If Kemp survives a primary he will face another roadblock in the form of a competitive general election, even if the national environment sours for Democrats. Abrams is thought to be considering another bid and would probably be the most credible potential candidate. We consider this race a tossup; we’re not willing to count out Governor Kemp just yet, but Georgia certainly isn’t what it was half a decade ago.
Kansas has been a Republican state for quite some time. Despite falling short of their goals in 2020, Kansas Democrats have seen some positive trends in the Sunflower State that could foreshadow future success.
First off, Kansas broke pattern in the Presidential race by voting slightly to the left of neighboring Missouri, a good sign for Democrats if the trends continue. On top of that, Joe Biden became the first Democratic presidential candidate in a century to win Johnson County and the first Democratic presidential candidate in history to win Riley County. It’s also important to note that Democrats have a far better track record when it comes to winning these races than they do with winning Senate and Presidential races.
Despite remaining a Republican state at the federal level by double-digits last year, Kansas’s current Governor is Democrat Laura Kelly, a politician with quite a few similarities to Kathleen Sebelius, who served as Governor in the early 2000s. Kelly was elected in a three-way race back in 2018, besting controversial Republican Kris Kobach by five points; 2014 Senate candidate Greg Orman siphoned off about 7% of the vote. Since then, Kelly has held her own, with approvals ranging from the mid-40s to the high-60s.
Some would argue that Kelly has little path to victory in a red state, especially if the environment favors the GOP. While it’s true she will have an uphill battle, especially if she faces a strong challenger, we believe it’s pre-emptive to count out a moderately-popular incumbent governor this early in the cycle. For that reason we are keeping the Kansas race in the tossup category for the foreseeable future.
Since Kobach arguably sank Republican chances in the last election after defeating the sitting Governor in the primary, the GOP will certainly be seeking a strong candidate this cycle to avoid compromising their chances in the general election. Potential Republican candidates include former Governor Jeff Colyer, 2020 Senate candidate Bob Hamilton, 2018 Lt. Governor nominee Wink Hartman, 2018 nominee Kris Kobach, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Speaker of the State House Ron Ryckman Jr, Attorney General Derek Schmidt, State Senate President Susan Wagle, and Representative Ron Estes. Things could change in Kansas after the primary, but don’t expect Kelly to go down without a fight, regardless of the nominee.
Pennsylvania (Leans Democratic)
With the Keystone State’s Democratic Governor Tom Wolf term-limited after two terms, Pennsylvania is shaping up to have one of the most contested gubernatorial elections in the nation. Just like in the state’s Senate contest, we expect crowded primary fields on both sides.
For Democrats, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro has been the subject of much speculation. With Lt. Governor John Fetterman running for the Senate, other potential gubernatorial candidates include Representatives Brendan Boyle, Chrissy Houlahan, and Conor Lamb, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney, and now-defeated State Treasurer Joe Torsella. Given Fetterman’s recent racial-profiling scandal, it seems increasingly likely that credible candidates likeBoyle or Houlahan may opt to seek the Senate seat instead, making Shapiro a shoo-in for the nomination.
With former Republican Representative Ryan Costello set to make a Senate bid, our political eyes are glued to the slow-brewing, murky field of potential Republican gubernatorial nominees. Two of the top candidates who have recently expressed interest in running are former Representative Lou Barletta, who lost his 2018 Senate bid to Bob Casey, and former State House Speaker Mike Turzai. Other potential candidates include former Lt. Governor Jim Cawley, President of the State Senate Jake Corman, Congressmen Brian Fitzpatrick, Mike Kelly, and Dan Meuser, to name a few.
We are rating this race as as Leans Democratic to start, unlike the Senate race. However, both races are open, with long-time incumbents vacating their seats, and both races could have large, uncertain primary fields – leaving their respective general election implications uncertain as of now. Despite its traditional Democratic lean, Pennsylvania has been open to political anomalies and oddities before.
Like its “blue wall” friends of Michigan and Pennsylvania, Wisconsin helped elect President Trump in 2016, and albeit narrowly, helped send him home just last November. But Wisconsin was only narrowly won by President Biden, and Democrats have found themselves straddling an increasingly untenable position in a state that has seemingly begun to drift away at the federal level. But down the ballot, Democrats can still compete with their Republican adversaries, evidenced by incumbent Democratic Governor Tony Evers, who defeated nationally-known Republican Scott Walker back in 2018.
If 2022 turns out to be a red year, we can expect many Republicans to throw their hats in the ring. Some potential candidates include former Representative Sean Duffy, Representative Mike Gallagher, and former Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch. Gallagher could be a particularly potent nominee, and could very well run if Ron Johnson decides to seek re-election to the Senate.
Tony Evers has had his power greatly reduced by the state’s Republican legislature, but it doesn’t mean he isn’t a viable contender for re-election. If 2020 has shown us anything, Wisconsin will be a close fight, so keep an eye on it.
Likely States (9)
Alaska (Likely Republican)
Alaska is politically-unique, but has generally leaned toward the Republicans over the last few years. Incumbent Republican Mike Dunleavy, much like his predecessor Bill Walker, has been unpopular during his first term. He faced a recall attempt in 2020, but it failed to gather enough signatures to get on the ballot; the effort has continued into 2021. Dunleavy fought a mildly competitive race against former Senator Mark Begich in 2018, but the 2022 Democratic field remains unclear. Ranked Choice Voting, which passed via referendum last year, will also throw added uncertainty into campaign, but robs Democrats of their traditional path to victory in the state: a plurality win. We consider Republicans the favorites.
Massachusetts (Likely Republican)
Massachusetts is a heavily Democratic state at the federal level, but it has remained partial to its moderate Republican Governor Charlie Baker. Baker, who is arguably more popular among Democrats than members of his own party, was re-elected in a landslide in 2018. We currently consider Massachusetts to be Likely Republican because we do not yet know if Baker will decide to seek re-election. Despite having served two terms, he is not limited as Massachusetts has no laws pertaining to gubernatorial term limits. If Baker runs for re-election he will be a commanding favorite. If he retires, Democrats will have a better shot at winning the Governor’s mansion. Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito is the most likely Republican candidate if Baker chooses to retire.
New Hampshire (Likely Republican)
All eyes are on New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu, the latest addition to the Granite State’s most famous political family, to see if he will make a bid for Senate against incumbent Democrat Maggie Hassan. If he declines, he will be a strong favorite for re-election as governor; he won re-election by over thirty points even as President Biden handily carried the state last November. If he decides to make the Senate bid, New Hampshire will have a competitive gubernatorial race. However, The primary fields for both parties in the event of a Sununu retirement are uncertain.
Vermont (Likely Republican)
Like neighboring Massachusetts and New Hampshire, Vermont is governed by a highly-popular moderate Republican. That governor, Phil Scott, was the most prominent Republican official to endorse Joe Biden for President last year. In a state that voted for Biden by 35 points, his knack for moderation has proven to be an asset, allowing Scott to cruise to a 41-point victory. If Scott decides to run for re-election, the race will immediately be moved to Safe Republican. In the event of his retirement, Vermont would have a competitive race on its hands that Democrats would likely have a good chance of winning. Until his announcement, we’re keeping this race at Likely Republican.
Illinois (Likely Democratic)
Illinois will likely come as a surprise addition to many of our readers, most of whom would probably write it off to the Safe Democratic category. Democratic Governor J.B. Pritzker may have been able to handily defeat then-incumbent Republican Governor Bruce Rauner in 2018, but he has become fairly unpopular since then, with his approvals dipping into unpopular territory as of last month. While we currently expect Pritzker to face a closer race than he did in 2018, we by no means consider him vulnerable to losing re-election. Even with a strong candidate, it has become near-impossible for Illinois Republicans to assemble a statewide coalition without the suburban Chicagoland.
Maryland (Likely Democratic)
The only state where we currently predict a flip is Maryland, one of the most Democratic states in the country. Republican Governor Larry Hogan is one of the most popular state executives in the country. However, since Hogan is term-limited going into 2022, it’s almost impossible to see any Republican, even if a solid candidate like Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford announces. Forming a credible coalition in a state that voted for President Biden by over 30 points is incredibly difficult. Until we see how the Republican primary field pans out here, we are keeping the rating at Likely Democratic.
New Mexico (Likely Democratic)
Governor Michelle Lujan-Grisham’s approval ratings have remained strong during the COVID-19 pandemic, but we don’t expect her to secure re-election by a larger margin than she did back in 2018, when she defeated Steve Pearce 57-43%. With Colorado seemingly dragging itself further toward the Democrats than its southern neighbor, we aren’t counting out a strong Republican challenge. A candidate like Mark Ronchetti, who kept Ben Ray Lujan to a smaller-than-expected six-point victory, could certainly make a formidable challenge to Grisham.
Oregon (Likely Democratic)
Oregon was one of the races that Republicans missed the mark on back in 2018, when Knute Buehler was defeated by incumbent Democrat Kate Brown. Despite being a Democratic state, it’s likely that the Republicans will target the Beaver State again; no Democratic gubernatorial candidate has won more than 51% of the vote here since 1998. Republican state legislators Julie Parrish and Tim Knopp are both considering running, but they lack the name recognition to make a statewide campaign an easy endeavor. On the Democratic side there are quite a few names that might be looking to succeed Governor Brown, including State Treasurer Tobias Reed, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, Secretary of State Shemia Fagan, Speaker of the Oregon State House Tina Kotek, and Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum.
Rhode Island (Likely Democratic)
Rhode Island has been more partial to Democratic gubernatorial candidates in the last few elections that many of its New England neighbors, but we don’t quite consider it completely safe for the Democrats. With Gina Raimondo term-limited and preparing to enter the Biden Cabinet, the new incumbent Governor will be Lt. Governor Dan McKee. McKee starts out as a strong favorite. Republicans have a weak candidate bench; Blake Filippi, the Minority Leader of the State House, has reportedly considered running.
Editor’s note: An earlier version of this article erroneously mentioned ranked-choice voting applying to the Maine gubernatorial race; it does not. We apologize for this error.