Friday Governors Line
The Fix is home with Charlie Cillizza today but even the little tyke knows that if it's Friday, it's time for the Friday Line.
Today we tackle the ten gubernatorial races most likely to switch sides in 2009 and 2010. As always, the number one ranked contest on the Line is the likeliest turnover.
Agree or disagree with our picks? The comments section awaits.
To the Line!
10. New Jersey (D): We've been told more times than we care to count over the years that this is the year that Republicans will finally win a statewide race in New Jersey. But, maybe this actually is the year as a new Quinnipiac poll shows Gov. Jon Corzine (D) trailing likely Republican nominee Chris Christie. Thirty eight percent of voters in the survey viewed Corzine favorably while 50 percent saw him in an unfavorable light -- numbers that were even more pronounced among critical independents voters (33 percent fav/54 unfav). Corzine has bought his way out of trouble in past races but public opinion appears to be hardening against him. (Previous ranking: N/A)
9. Virginia (D): Former Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe is intent on largely ignoring his primary foes and attacking state Attorney General Bob McDonnell. McAuliffe spent much of the last week hammering McDonnell over conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh even as former state Del. Brian Moran went on offense against McAuliffe over his energy plan. McAuliffe (thanks to his fundraising capacity) has to be considered the favorite in the primary but Moran and state Sen. Creigh Deeds both have paths to victory in June. (Previous ranking: 9)
8. Hawaii (R): Rep. Neil Abercrombie is the first Democrat to formally announce his candidacy but it's not likely he will have the field to himself as Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann and state Senate President Colleen Hanabusa are also interested. Republicans remain enthusiastic about Lt. Gov. Duke Aiona as a candidate and, if Abercrombie winds up as the Democratic nominee, expect Aiona to cast him as a tool of a failed Washington system. (Previous ranking: 6)
7. California (R): New polling out of California confirms what we've long expected -- Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) is a strong primary and general election favorite if she decides to run. Here's the problem (for Democrats): no one we know in the party thinks she will ultimately get in the race. If Feinstein doesn't run, the Democratic primary will be a free for all with state Attorney General Jerry Brown, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa comprising the top tier, according to the Field poll. On the Republican side, no one knows any of the three potential nominees -- former eBay president Meg Whitman, Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner, and former Rep. Tom Campbell -- although Whitman is well positioned as the lone female candidate. (Previous ranking: 7)
6. Michigan (D): Democratic insiders have long painted Lt. Gov. John Cherry as a weak candidate and new polling out of Michigan proves them right. Cherry trails three of the potential Republican nominees -- state Attorney General Mike Cox, Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land and Oakland County Executive Brooks Patterson. Watch for a push for a candidacy by state House Speaker Andy Dillon (D) if Cherry continues to lag in polling. (Previous ranking: 8)
5. Tennessee (D): Although Gov. Phil Bredesen (D) has been in office for the last eight years, there is a remarkably thin bench of Democratic prospects in the Volunteer State. The most likely nominee, according to informed insiders, is Mike McWherter, the son of popular former Gov. Ned Ray McWherter. A spirited primary is shaping up on the Republican side with Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam, an heir to the Pilot Oil fortune, considered the frontrunner. (Previous ranking: 5)
4. Oklahoma (D): Republicans, not thrilled with their current field in the race to replace Gov. Brad Henry (D), are pushing hard to convince former Rep. J.C. Watts to consider a candidacy. Watts, a well-known figure in the state thanks to his time in Congress and as the quarterback of the Oklahoma Sooners football team, would likely benefit from significant national attention as an African American Republican. Democrats have two solid candidate -- Lt. Gov. Jari Askins and state Attorney General Drew Edmondson -- but Oklahoma is a VERY Republican state. (Previous ranking: 4)
3. Kansas (D): Gov. Kathleen Sebelius's ascension to secretary of Health and Human Services could have been a good thing for Democrats' chances of keeping the state in their control in 2010, as she will be replaced by Democratic Lt. Gov. Mark Parkinson. But Parkinson has made clear he will not run for a full term as governor next November, a decision that leaves the party in something of a lurch. That lurch is made worse by Sen. Sam Brownback's (R) decision to come back to the Sunflower State to run for governor. He is a clear frontrunner. (Previous ranking: 3)
2. Rhode Island (R): The Democratic and Republicans fields narrowed in the last month with Providence Mayor David Cicilline and former Cranston Mayor Steve Laffey (R) removing themselves from consideration over the last few weeks. Laffey's decision leaves state Rep. Frank Trillo as the lone Republican in the field while state Treasurer Frank Caprio, state Attorney General Patrick Lynch and Lt. Gov. Elizabeth Roberts are in the Democratic running. Any of the three would be favored against Trillo. (Previous ranking: 2)
1. Nevada (R): Gov. Jim Gibbons (R) is a dead man walking politically. Former state Sen. Joe Heck is getting into the Republican primary race, according to Fix friend Jon Ralston, and may be joined by other ambitious pols who see an opportunity in Gibbons's predicament. Democrats are headed for a primary between Clark County Commission Chair Rory Reid, eldest son of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and state Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley. If Gibbons somehow survives the primary, Democrats will pick up this seat. (Previous ranking: 1)
March 13, 2009; 3:00 PM ET
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