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The Friday Governors Line

The fight for the 36 governorships up for grabs in November continues to be the most entertaining campaign story line this year. Picking just the top 10 best gubernatorial takeover chances for the two parties is extremely difficult since we could easily write about 15 to 20 races that will be closely contested and could switch party control come November.

But, in the interest of brevity (and the Fix's sanity) we continue to limit ourselves to ranking just the top 10 races in the Friday Line. But, there is -- and will continue to be -- significant movement in the bottom half of the line because of the large number of truly competitive contests. We left off Illinois, Nevada, Colorado, Maine and several others that could well see turnovers or at least nip and tuck races. Please feel free to critique our list in the comments section below. And, if you don't believe how hard this is, try submitting your own Friday governors line.

As always, the races are ranked from least likely to switch party control to most likely. Enjoy!

10. Florida - OPEN Jeb Bush (R), is retiring: Until the parties pick nominees in their respective Sept. 5 primaries, this race is extremely difficult to predict. Rep. Jim Davis (D) and state Attorney General Charlie Crist (R) seem to be the frontrunners but the size of Florida and the cost of communicating in the state make it a real jump ball heading into the fall. Regardless of who each party puts forward, this will be a major battleground as Democrats are hoping to elect one of their own after eight years of Jeb Bush. (Previous ranking: 9)

9. California - Arnold Schwarzenegger (R): Schwarzenegger seems to have found his stride in the last two months. He recently beat back an attempt by the California Republican Assembly to force the state party to rescind its earlier endorsement because the governor hired Democratic operative Susan Kennedy as his chief of staff. Schwarzenegger is also talking about raising $120 million for the race -- $60 for his own campaign and $60 million for the state party. State Controller Steve Westly and state Treasurer Phil Angelides will both be well-financed but must make up a huge name identification gap with the Governator. (Previous ranking: 6)

8. Michigan - Jennifer Granholm (D): Just as we were contemplating moving Granholm off the list entirely (her poll numbers remain high despite the fact that the state's economy continues to struggle), Amway heir Dick DeVos goes on statewide television with an ad designed to introduce him to the state's voters. The 60-second commercial, which was produced by OnMessage Inc's Curt Anderson, highlights the state's job losses and casts DeVos as an outsider to the political process who has created jobs in the private sector for years. The ad's message seems pitch perfect to draw a contrast between DeVos and Granholm and we'll be interested to see whether it moves the numbers at all. (Previous ranking: 6)

7. Wisconsin - Jim Doyle (D): First things first. This race has been neglected for far too long in the Friday Line. Doyle has been surrounded by controversy for much of the year with the biggest potential problem concerning the indictment of a state employee for fixing -- no pun intended -- state contracts. Polling has shown Doyle running neck and neck with either Rep. Mark Green or Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker -- the two Republicans running for the nomination. The lone bright spot at the moment for Doyle is that the two Republicans face off in a September primary, giving them little time to raise the money or to focus to the incumbent (Previous ranking: N/A)

6. Arkansas - OPEN, Mike Huckabee (R) is retiring: After a decade of Republican rule, Democrats seem well-positioned to once again reclaim the governor's office. State Attorney General Mike Beebe is the Democratic establishment favorite but former Clinton Administration official Bill Halter has already dipped into his own pocket and looks likely to make Beebe spend money in the May 23 primary. Democrats spin that Beebe has never been seriously tested before so the Halter primary will work to his advantage in the long run. Former Rep. Asa Hutchinson (R) is waiting for the eventual winner. A Beebe-Hutchinson race would be a terrific contest between two gifted politicians (Previous ranking: 8)

5. Massachusetts - OPEN, Mitt Romney(R) is retiring: No race has fallen faster on the line than this one. In the immediate aftermath of Romney's retirement announcement, we bumped it up to the number two slot but have moved it down in each of the subsequent lines. Why? State Attorney General Thomas Reilly, once the clear Democratic frontrunner, has been in crisis mode for much of 2006. The latest flub came when his hand-picked running mate stepped down just one day after being chosen because of revelations of a series of unpaid debts. Reilly also was soundly defeated at the state caucuses earlier this month by former deputy U.S. Attorney General Deval Patrick (D) , meaning that Patrick will come to the June convention with approximately a two-to-one edge in committee delegates. Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey (R) formally kicked off her bid on Feb. 8 and a new University of Massachusetts poll showed her running nearly even with either Reilly or Patrick. (Previous ranking: 4)

4. Maryland - Bob Ehrlich (R): There was a real temptation to move this one even higher -- a Baltimore Sun poll done last month showed Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley (D) with a 15-point bulge over Ehrlich -- but Montgomery County Executive Doug Duncan (D) has begun to bash O'Malley on crime rate statistics in Charm City -- a point of potential weakness for the presumptive nominee. Duncan seems committed to staying in the race all the way through the September primary, a decision that complicates O'Malley's efforts to focus his fire on Ehrlich. In the meantime, the governor will continue to stockpile cash; he had $8.4 million in the bank as of last month. (Previous ranking: 5)

3. Iowa - OPEN, Tom Vilsack (D) is retiring: Democrats got great news earlier this week when state Agriculture Commission Patty Judge (D) not only dropped her gubernatorial bid but also joined the campaign of Secretary of State Chet Culver (D). That move makes Culver the clear favorite in the June primary and seems to set him up for a November face-off against Rep, Jim Nussle (R). Democrats are convinced that Nussle's time in Congress -- especially as chairman of the House Budget Committee -- will haunt him this fall. (Previous ranking: 3)

2. Ohio - OPEN, Bob Taft (R) is retiring: Democratic Rep. Ted Strickland's gubernatorial campaign got a boost just before filing closed yesterday when former state Sen. Eric Fingerhut dropped his candidacy. Strickland now has the nomination all to himself while Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell and state Attorney General Jim Petro battle it out in the May 2 Republican primary. In any other year, this race would be number one on the line as Strickland must be considered the favorite this fall -- especially with the current challenging political environment for Republicans in the state. (Previous ranking: 2)

1. New York - OPEN, George Pataki (R) is retiring: Billionaire businessman Tom Golisano's decision not to run for the Republican nomination further diminishes GOPers' chances in the Empire State. Republicans seem likely to nominate former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld -- although his candidacy has failed to take off. Nassau County Executive Thomas Suozzi received a nice bump earlier this week when New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D) praised him as a "real leader" but -- friendly comments or not -- Suozzi has nearly no chance should he decide to challenge state Attorney General Eliot Spitzer in the Democratic primary. (Previous ranking: 1)

By Chris Cillizza  |  February 17, 2006; 7:12 AM ET
Categories:  The Line  
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Also a thing to note is the endorsements Strickland has been getting that are not from political parties. For example,

the Ohio Education Association (OEA) Fund for Children and Public Education (FCPE) has announced their unanimous endorsement of Ohio gubernatorial candidate Congressman Ted Strickland's candidacy.

the Plumbing and Pipefitting Industry endorsed Congressman Ted Strickland to be Ohio's next governor.

Citing his commitment to public safety and the need for courageous political leadership in Ohio, the Ohio Association of Professional Fire Fighters (OAPFF) endorsed Ohio gubernatorial candidate Congressman Ted Strickland

The Ohio AFL-CIO endorsed Ohio gubernatorial candidate Congressman Ted Strickland today in Columbus

Enthusiastic to elect a health care reformer to the governor's office, the Service Employees International Union (District 1199 and SEIU Local 3) endorsed Ohio gubernatorial candidate Congressman Ted Strickland

The Ohio Federation of Teachers announced today their endorsement of Congressman Ted Strickland for Ohio governor

There are more endoresements of groups like this to go as well but I'm sure you already egt the picture.

Posted by: Rob | February 23, 2006 10:59 AM | Report abuse

February 19, 2006--Democratic Congressman Ted Strickland continues to lead his potential Republican opponents in the Ohio governor's race.

Strickland leads Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell 47% to 35%. This is a weaker showing for the Republican than we found in January.

Strickland also leads Attorney General Jim Petro 44% to 37%. That's about the same as our previous Ohio election poll.

Posted by: RMill | February 22, 2006 10:57 AM | Report abuse

Read in the paper today that Blackwell is going to start launching tv and radio attack ads against Petro for being slow to act on the Coingate scandal. Awesome. Blackwell and Petro are going to spend all their time and money tearing eachother apart before the primary. Whichever one wins will be broke as a joke and have half the republican party pissed at him, and Strickland will have a nice chest of $5 million or so, as well as party unity.

I wonder if Blackwell has thought ahead about how he is going to explain all the campaign cash he accepted from Tom Noe?

But oh wait I forgot!!!!! It's OK b/c he is black and therefore he will get a lot of black voters!! HAhahahahaaha

Strickland - 47%
Blackwell -35%

Posted by: Ohio guy | February 21, 2006 9:00 PM | Report abuse

Poor Viva, so misinformed. Let's begin showing how everything you said is wrong.

1) How the hell do you pretend to know how blacks are going to vote? "Where blacks have the opportunity to vote for blacks they will do so, especially if they like the guy". First off, you have no factual basis for this. John Kerry won three times the black vote as Al Sharpton in the new york dem primary. Why? B/c the vast majority of blacks are dems and blacks, just like other dems, wanted to defeat Bush. They hate Bush. Bush loves Blackwell and Blackwell loves Bush. They are not going to vote for someone whose policies will hurt them just b/c he is black.

Who are these blacks you pretend to know who love Blackwell? You probably just made it up. Most of the blacks I know despise him for his work for Bush, and have told me he is referred to as a traitor. Wow Viva, what a glowing review from the very people who are supposed to deliver him the state.

2)"Blackwell is Strickland's nightmare....he's black". This moronic statement only reinforces that republicans think they can win elections simply by putting up black candidates. 'Who cares if Petro would be a better candidate, pick the black guy'!! Have you considered why, if Blackwell has such strong support among blacks, he is 12 points behind Strickland? Has it crossed your little mind that a lot more people are likely to NOT vote for Blackwell because he is black? I'd bet those same people usually vote republican. Also, only 14% of Ohio is black.

3) The fact that Strickland is a pro-gun preacher is not going to cause a single liberal to stay home on election day. What's their alternative - Blackwell? In fact, it is going to win him a lot of independents and moderate republicans who are turned off by Blackwell's extreme views. I guess if someone, like yourself, didn't know about Strickland's voting record, you wouldnt think he excites liberals and the democratic base. Too bad he is extremely pro-health care, pro-union and pro-worker, pro-education that your idiotic scenario of 'liberals staying home' won't happen.

4) Steele was not elected statewide on his own, so you are wrong there. He was on a ticket with Bob Ehrlich and people vote for the top of the ticket not the bottom. Too bad Steele is getting rolled over by Ben Cardin right now.

5) Oh excuse me, besides all of the EIGHTEEN members of the ohio legislative black caucus who ALL support Strickland, Bradley supports Blackwell. HMMM....18 to 1.....

I didn't know i was "messin" with anyone Viva, sorry you took me correcting you as "messin". But I have a good idea nonetheless....someone who is living in a dreamworld where he thinks Blackwell has a shot against Strickland.

Posted by: Ohio guy | February 21, 2006 8:51 PM | Report abuse

Correction Ohio Guy:
Once Blackwell wins the primary, Republican State Treasurer Jeanette Bradley, previously elected as Lt. Governor,will back Blackwell.

The state house and senate Blacks are all Dems and of course will support Strickland. You missed my point bright boy, where Blacks have the opportunity to vote for Blacks they will do so, especially if they like the guy and many blacks I know, like Blackwell.

Be careful what you wish for, Blackwell is Strickland's worst nightmare--he's a Black Republican who can win Black, typically Democrat, votes.
Conversely, we respect Strickland because he is a pro-gun preacher who appeals to some of our consitutuents. Are your far-left voters likely to vote for him or sit home on election day? Hispanics have gone after Ted for voting for the most recent immigration bill. Ted may not be liberal enough for some of your voters so watch out.

Mehlman can pick all the Blacks he wants for office but first they need to get elected. Remember, Steele, Bradley and Blackwewll have ALLL been elected state-wide.
Ohio Dems have NEVER elected a Black for statewide office.

You don't know who you're messin with OG.

Posted by: vivabush04OH | February 21, 2006 3:44 PM | Report abuse

Viva fails to point out that every single of the Ohio house and senate black caucuses is supporting Ted Strickland for governor. Not one state-level black official in Ohio is supporting him.
Like I said before, if you think the gay marriage bad was good for republicans, wait until you see what the minimum wage initiative does for democrats this year. 86% nationwide support it as opposed to 60% for the gay marriage ban.
Blackwell is one of Ken Mehlman's hand-picked token black candidates along with Lynn Swann and Michael Steele to try to make the republican party lokkk like it isn't racist. Luckily for America, the voters in Pennsylvania and Maryland will reject them as well.
Also, I'm not insinuating that Blackwell isn't leading Petro. He probably is and i'm glad about that. Petro stands a chance against us, Blackwell no chance at all.

Posted by: Ohio guy | February 21, 2006 2:24 PM | Report abuse

VB'04: thanks for your response. I can argue with some of your conclusions (especially about the size of your 'tent' given Blackwell's remarks/audience) but your logic/experiences are helpful in understanding where Blackwell is coming from and where we can expect him to go in this campaign.

Posted by: lpdrjk | February 21, 2006 11:37 AM | Report abuse


You ask about Will's comment about Blacks on Blackwell? About 16% of the Black vote for Bush?

Some, many Black voters, have an affinity for a Black politician. This is no different from Irish voting for Irish, Italians for Italians, women for women. Black Dems will switch for the right candidate.

Almost all Blacks in the House were elected by a majority of Black voters. Blackwell has been elected to many offices in his career beginning with Cincinnati city council. Vote totals would show that he fared well in Black areas. The same holds true when you look at his other races, especially the state-wide ones.

You should see Blackwell in front of a majority Black audience, he speaks about education, morals, public services, taxes, issues with which many Black voters identify. In front of white conservatives, he's even more electrifying.

I was at a MLK Black Church event last month and the key note speaker was talking about the abomination of "women lying down with women, men with men, abortion..." Lot of amens here. Church going Blacks are very conservative. Let's face it, Blacks are typically Dem voters, they may vote for Blackwell over Strickland but they're not voting for Petro over Strickland.

I think the exit polls are relatively accurate that Bush got 16% of the Black vote v 11% nationally. Again, Blackwell campaigned for Bush and was responsible for the Marriage Amendment. Couple that with a growing Black middle and class 16% is about right.

Despite what Rasmussen says, Ohio polls show that Blackwell has a 10 point lead over Petro who is sinking fast. Currrently, that is all that matters. We will take care of Strickland after the primary.

The Republican Party, and the Ohio Republican Party is a growing big-tent party that accomodates various view points, we have pro-life and pro-choice candidates. Many of our leading office holders opposed the Marriage Amendment. Remember 63% voted for the Marriage Amendment including many Democrats and Independents. OHIO IS A RED STATE.

Posted by: vivabush04OH | February 21, 2006 11:24 AM | Report abuse


Strickland by 12 over Blackwell, 7 over Petro!

Looks pretty good unless the republicans nominate Petro, then it will be closer.

Oh wait, their party despises anyone who isn't anti-gay enough, ani-abortion enough, and just in general anyone who dosen't sound like Pat Robertson. Blackwell is their guy.

Posted by: Ohio guy | February 21, 2006 3:39 AM | Report abuse

Judge Crater: I'm truly sorry if I hurt Viva's feelings or those of any other neocons, I guess I didn't realize people who can be so good at dishing it out can be so bad at taking it.
I now know that calling someone a pig 3 times is equally bad as referring to a group of people as DIMs about 3 thousand times.

Viva - i'm sorry if I made you cry. i promise i will never call you a pig again.

To everyone: despite my sarcastic tone, I really don't have any interest in throwing insults back and forth on this or any other forum, i know i shouldn't have lowered myself to viva's level, i should have just let him/her be childish all by himself. Rest assured i'm not a flamer and i'm not going away.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 20, 2006 9:40 PM | Report abuse

Quentin: the Rasmussen poll has Blackwell down by 12; Petro down by only 7. I'd agree that both Blackwell AND Strickland have not yet established their 'identity' as yet with the voters so such polls have limited value (although flamers sometimes act like they are an infallible crystal ball). However, given the fact that we know next to nothing (relative to where we'll be in November) about the candidates the above gap amounts to a gut reaction that says something seriously negative about Blackwell.

VB'04: I read Will's column. Explain the sense in the following statement to me which supposedly describes Blackwell: "He appeals to blacks by being black and because many blacks are cultural conservatives: George W. Bush won 16 percent of Ohio's black vote in 2004."

I think this is a non-sequitor; how did they establish that 16 percent of the black vote went to Bush in 2004? Last time I checked votes aren't broken down by race. If they use polling data we know how accurate that is. And since when does "16 percent" amount to 'many?' If it is, what does the other 84 percent amount to? "Quadruple-many?" Finally, if we accept the idea that 16 percent of blacks voted for Bush in 04, why does that make them "cultural conservatives?" Bush is farther away from being a small government conservative than any president in history. Period.

Posted by: lpdrjk | February 20, 2006 6:36 PM | Report abuse

Concerning the Iowa Governors Race. Culver might be a frontrunner, and yes, Blouin has received several endorsements. There remains a third viable candidate-Ed Fallon. He is running a progressive issue based Grassroots campaign, focusing on camapign finance reform, universal healthcare, and sustainable development. He has gained ten points over two months in polls, to only trail a matchup with Nussle by 10 points. Culver and Blouin's numbers have remained steady. Fallon shows growing support and could peak in the right time to take the nomination.

Posted by: Adam | February 20, 2006 6:31 PM | Report abuse

Ohio opinion polls are more split than Chris suggests. Rasmussen suggests that Strickland would beat Blackwell in a head to head, but Zogby suggests the reverse. The points about contested primaries, made on both sides, are valid. But the Ohio primary is in May, plenty of time for the winner to establish himself and raise more funds. Some primaries are much later.

On the whole, I think Chris is underestimating the GOP's chances. Blackwell will probably win the primary, and has every credibility in distancing himself from Taft, whose policies he has long opposed. Taft's no-contest plea is not going to go away, but as time passes will have less impact on the polls, especially after Blackwell has had time to establish his own identity.

My bet is that the Ohio GOP's nadir is behind it, and Blackwell will beat Strickland in November.

Quentin Langley
editor of

Posted by: Quentin Langley | February 20, 2006 4:14 PM | Report abuse


"The White House has praised a plan by Sen. Mike DeWine (R-Ohio) to draft legislation that would exempt the NSA program from FISA, while providing for congressional oversight."

I'll bet they've praised it. When the Administration is caught red-handed doing something illegal, DeWine's response is to pass a law making it legal? Too bad Nixon didn't think of that! Legalizing burglary would've been a nice end run around the Constitution.

This is a guy who is going to help clean up corruption in Congress? His current solution appears to involve enabling legalization rather than elimination. The GOP can (and should) do better than this a$$-kisser.

Posted by: Judge Crater | February 20, 2006 12:16 PM | Report abuse

Ohio guy: I logged on this morning to discover that VB'04 has nominated me to be the Nanny McPhee of this discussion board. Please retire the perjoratives. VB'04 has stopped saying 'DIMS' over and over again. Do us all a favor and reciprocate.

VB: unless you know of a way to transmit lithium across the Web into keyboards neither of us can take responsibility for periodic flamers of either stripe. Wait for them to go away.

Posted by: Judge Crater | February 20, 2006 8:51 AM | Report abuse

One ballot initiative that WILL pass if we get it on the ballot this november is the increase in Ohio's minimum wage. Hopefully we get it on this year b/c Blackwell of course would oppose it (which would mean Strickland slaughters him instead of just beats him) and the support for raising the minimum wage in Ohio (and all accross the country for that matter) is around 75-80%. Currently Ohio's minimum wage is $4.25/hr, joining Kansas as the only other state that has a minimum wage lower then the federal wage. This initiative would raise the incomes of many people and increase the tax base, but of course our dear friend Blackwell will oppose it.

Posted by: Ohio guy | February 20, 2006 12:35 AM | Report abuse

Thank you for proving all of my points for me. I am well aware that partisan repiglicans like yourself worship Ken Blackwell for delivering Ohio to Bush. It is also because of this fact that Democrats and moderates will turn out in droves to vote for Ted Strickland. Seen any polls on Bush's approval in Ohio recently? Do you know how many Ohioans believe the entire Ohio repiglican party is corrupt and incompetent? Come November people will be disgusted with Ken Blacwell for helping Bush and because of his own radical views. I suspect you're very out of touch with those people.
As for the TEL amendment, you would do well to take your own advice and some homework yourself. They passed one just like it in Colorado and it was a complete disaster. It's already turned into a huge issue in the gov race there, and many repiglican officials in ohio do not even support it.

Posted by: Ohio guy | February 20, 2006 12:27 AM | Report abuse

Re: IOWA. Be careful about your prognosticating. Culver doesn't have a lock on the nomination here and it's important to look at what's going on beneath the surface of all of the announcements. His support is primarily coming from out of state, all the money and recognition that his father can bring to the race. Chet Culver is no John Culver, and people see that. Bringing Patty Judge onto the campaign has been viewed as a bad move by insiders in Iowa politics, a media bump at most. She's not viewed in a positive light, is a terrible campaigner, can't raise money, and brings more policy baggage than she's worth in the primary (and general) election. Mike Blouin is the candidate to watch here, locking up a lot of the statewide labor endorsements (and rumored to be the front runner for AFSCME's support.) Almost every statewide Democratic legislator and statewide office holder is supporting Blouin, showing that when people know the two candidates, the choice is clear.

This game is far from over and with the candidates making more public appearances, it becomes obvious. I'll admit, I wince every time I hear Culver speak, afraid he'll be the nominee. He's not a bright guy. As we've seen in Iowa caucuses from years gone by, peaking early kills a candidate, and Iowa's voters are full of surprises.

Posted by: Brad | February 19, 2006 6:17 PM | Report abuse

Hey all you Strickland partisans,
read today's Post George Will column about Ken Blackwell, Lynn Swann, etc.
Pretty remarkable possibilities or these individuals, the GOP and America.

Posted by: Vivabush04OH | February 19, 2006 3:59 PM | Report abuse

I completely agree that voting is a right guaranteed to all QUALIFIED voters. Age, citizenship, residency all are qualifications that need to be attested.

We have an elections system for that purpose. That 3rd world and developed countries have voter ID cards is meant to ensure free elections for all citizens.
Our electoral system has many holes in it which I would like to see plugged. We can thank the 1993 Motor-Voter law for many of these holes. And tell me what is wrong with a national voter registry to prevent multiple registrations from state to state?
How fair is it that out-of-state college students are allowed to affect local, state and national elections as they do in battleground states like Ohio or for that matter, in any local jursidiction.

You seem to forget who sits on the Supreme Court now and how they might see such voter laws. Picture ID's are required for so many daily activities such as writing a check or bording an airplane and REAL ID was passed to ensure uniformity of ids for this activity.

To the poster who claimed that Blackwell caused fewer voting booths to be allocated to inner city areas, once again the outside left-wing forces that try to influence Ohio politics are grossly ignorant of Ohio election law as well as most things peculiarly Ohio. Each county's board of elections which are equally controlled by Republicans and Democrats determines that, not the secretary of state.

Believe it or not, most OHio Republicans regard Blackwell as a hero for his role in the Bush campaign, a successful campaign at that. I'm glad that many of you feel that Strickland has a lock on the governor's house and let me know when the polls show him with more than 50% of the vote.

And do your homework when you speak about the TEL Amendment and its probable demise. Last I saw, TEL was polling better than 60% in favor.

Hey Sujay/Crater, notice a poster using the term "rePIGlicans?" Boohoo, I am so appalled!!

Posted by: Vivabush04OH | February 19, 2006 3:18 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps a tutorial on NYS Governor's races may be helpful.

Then Congressman Hugh Carey of Brooklyn had a 7 percent ranking against Howard Samuels (they were calling him Governor Samuels)in 1972 for the 1974 race.

Then NYS Secretary of State Mario Cuomo had little hope against Mayor Ed Koch in 1982.

They both went on to become inhabitants of the Executive Mansion. Expect Tom Suozzi to follow suit and make the move to Eagle Street.

Posted by: Lowell | February 19, 2006 6:19 AM | Report abuse

Nothing to do with this topic really just came accross it while doing some research so i'm posting it on all of the threads i've been writing on:

Funny how the rePIGlicans claim to be tougher on national security than democrats huh? Saxby chambliss takes the cake.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 18, 2006 10:35 PM | Report abuse

There's still some of them left - they just don't make anywhere near the noise that the Pat Robertson wing of the party does. A lot of them (like my parents) feel very disillusioned. I think a fair number of them might end up voting for the former minister and Phd in theology Strickland when they see what a nut Blackwell is.

Posted by: Ohio guy | February 18, 2006 10:29 PM | Report abuse

Ohio guy: I'd say Blackwell has no chance of winning either EXCEPT for the fact that GOP moderates seem to have vanished off the face of the earth.

Posted by: Judge Crater | February 18, 2006 10:21 PM | Report abuse

To VivaBush04: The voter-ID-card requirement may be fine in Mexico, Haiti, or other third-world countries, but in the US voting is a fundamental right. Accordingly, restrictions or requirements on that right will generally be struck down unless there's a compelling need for it. Unsubstantiated allegations of voter fraud won't cut it. That's why driver's licenses (driving, hate to say it, has never been recognized as a fundamental right) are OK, but voter IDs, even if utility bills, etc., can be presented as substitutes, probably won't survive court scrutiny.

Posted by: Sujay | February 18, 2006 5:25 PM | Report abuse

Alex, you are correct. Lucy Baxley hasn't lost a race. But, neither has Bob Riley. But Baxley's last two races she had a substantial majority. When Riley was elected governor, it was an extremely close race. It was the closest gubernatorial race in Alabama history. He and former Gov. Don Siegelman both got 49.2% of the votes. Riley managed to get about 3,000 more votes than Siegelman in 2002.

Posted by: Jordan Pittman | February 18, 2006 3:00 PM | Report abuse

Especially agaisnt a popular pro-gun moderate like Strickland in the current political environment, Blackwell is toast. And by the way, even a few REPUBLICAN members of the Ohio house and senate have said privately to the press they will not vote for Blackwell no matter what. If you don't even have the support of your party behind you (besides the conservative evangelicals), you have no chance of winning.

Posted by: Ohio guy | February 18, 2006 2:59 PM | Report abuse

Blackwell is WAY too conservative to be elected governor of Ohio. He allies himself with people like Rod Parsley. The fact that he is black will be more than offset by the fact that he helped deliver Ohio to Bush by putting fewer voting booths in heavily black areas. His TEL ballot initiative will go down in flames and so will his campaign. He should run for gov of Alabama or Georgia.

Posted by: Ohio guy | February 18, 2006 2:58 PM | Report abuse

Ohio deserves to stay in the # 2 spot. Blackwell and Petro have taken the gloves off, and all of the accusations Blackwell is making about Petro (ie $$ from Noe, too close to Taft) will come back to haunt him. Petro seems to have little chance of winning the primary, and that is fine with me b/c Petro would be a stronger challenge to Strickland.

Posted by: Ohioguy | February 18, 2006 2:56 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: Ohio guy | February 18, 2006 2:36 PM | Report abuse

Yoy are placing Ohio far too high on the list. IF Atty Gen Jim Petro were to be the Republican nominee (which he will not), his association with outgoing Gov. Bob Taft would definitely hurt him However, Petro has virtually NO chance of defeating Secretary of state Ken Blackwell in the primary, and Blackwell distanced himself from Taft over key issues long before Taft's administration was tainted by scandal and unpopularity.
There is no way Strickland can tie Blackwell to Taft, nor does Strickland have a commanding lead in any polls, and trails in many.
Take another look at this one, then move it out of the top 10 likely to change hands. Strickland has a long way to go.

Posted by: Roy Nichols | February 18, 2006 12:25 PM | Report abuse

Massachusetts: Deval Patrick's sound beating of the current Attorney General Tom Reilly in the Democratic caucuses is not only attributable to his superior grass roots organization. But Patrick has also out raised $ his opponent since he entered the race a year ago. Once again proving the point that "Field equals Finance" for all you political operatives out there.

Posted by: CapeCodPolitics | February 18, 2006 8:25 AM | Report abuse

Chet Culver in Iowa named Patty Judge his running mate when her own campaign for governor didn't attract much if any support. There isn't much evidence that the naming of a running mate helped someone in an Iowa gubernatorial election. I don't believe many Iowans believe that Chet Culver has a lock on the nomination

Posted by: bob | February 17, 2006 5:57 PM | Report abuse

Chet Culver in Iowa named Patty Judge his running mate when her own campaign for governor didn't attract much if any support. There isn't much evidence that the naming of a running mate helped someone in an Iowa gubernatorial election. I don't believe many Iowans believe that Chet Culver has a lock on the nomination

Posted by: bob | February 17, 2006 5:56 PM | Report abuse

I think Massachusetts should actually be higher on the list rather than falling. Recent polls by the Boston Globe show both Reilly and Patrick leading Healy. Massachusetts will have a Dem governor this year.

Posted by: Rob | February 17, 2006 5:39 PM | Report abuse

For voter ID cards, -- I think the legal objection to these is pretty simple. Most states want to charge people to get one and, at least in Georgia's case - created some pretty onerous standards for someone to get a card if they don't already have a license. Not only does this disproportionately hurt less affluent/urban voters, it essentially amounts to a poll tax, which is unconstitutional.

All that being said, if the idea really is to avoid voter fraud, then I'm all for it. But then you've gotta make the cards free and commit enough resources to distributing them so that their requirement doesn't decrease the number of people that vote. Unfortunately, I'm not sure that's why Georgia or Ohio is trying to require the ID...

Posted by: Colin | February 17, 2006 4:36 PM | Report abuse

barry hoomes, i agree wholeheartedly with you. bush sold himself. unfortunately for all of us, it was to oil companies, defense contractors, and anyone else who wanted to 'donate'. good thing their brokers (jack abramoff and co) are getting busted.

Posted by: sam | February 17, 2006 3:41 PM | Report abuse

I'm going to break with the norm and give you a tip of the hat, for putting MD at 4, not that I follow other races outside of the DC area, but I think MD is definately going back to the Dems. Erhlich's only hope was that his Lt. Gov. Steele's Senate run would give him a strong showing in Prince Georges County, but Steele's recent comments about stem cells and the Holocaust is going to doom his chances, thus dooming Erhlich's chances. Whoever comes out of the Democratic primary, O'Malley or Duncan will have the full support of the Party, and that's all they will need to turn the Free State back to being one of the bluest of the blue states.

Posted by: RCDennis | February 17, 2006 3:22 PM | Report abuse

I hear you and Crater. I can change my terminology, will you offer to chastise the numerous liberals who rant and rave with non-intellectual remarks and bumper sticker slogganeering?

RMill, I never said nor implied that Petro was a token opponent, he makes a formidable opponent, just don't see him winning.

Voter ID? Nothin unconstitutional about it at all. I believe that last fall the REAL ID law passed regarding uniform drivers licenses.

We need election law reform that WILL require such a thing as a voter ID card to ensure that voters are actually qualified to vote and are who they claim to be. A national voter registry would be essential as well.

Truth is, most countries require such things as a voter ID card with a thumbprint, hologram, bar code etc. Mexico and Haiti are two of many. Why not the USA?

Posted by: vivabush04OH | February 17, 2006 2:44 PM | Report abuse

Andy, your point has merit but in the end, the candidate who sells him/herself the best and has a good organization behind them still will win most elections. Bush won Ohio fair and square because he sold himself the best with swing voters.

Posted by: Barry Hoomes | February 17, 2006 2:35 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: John | February 17, 2006 2:30 PM | Report abuse

I agree with Jordan about Alabama. From what I've heard (correct me if i'm wrong), Lucy Baxley has never lost a race.

Posted by: Alex | February 17, 2006 2:29 PM | Report abuse

I think Democrats are against it because it disproportionaly effects poor and minority voters which in general vote for Democrats. Also if the republicans wanted voter reform they would support things like requiring a paper trail for electronic voting machines. Both sides have been trying to surcamvent the true public vote for years by making rules and regulations that favor them. The republicans try things like ID'ing voters and the Democrats support making independent voter boards in California (because Arnold chooses them now) but wants to keep a partisan voting board in Ohio cause they control it.
All of them in my opinion are bulls#$%t techniques to control how the public votes.

Posted by: Andy R | February 17, 2006 2:22 PM | Report abuse

RMill -

You're correct. I was mistaken. My bad.

Posted by: Intrepid Liberal | February 17, 2006 2:21 PM | Report abuse

Chris- Colorado, man! Every poll I've seen has Ritter ahead of Beauprez, Holtzman. Ritter also has no significant primary, while the R's do. I'd put ahead of Wisconsin, Florida, California, Michigan. I know there's a lot of good gov races to list, but CO definitely deserves a spot.

Posted by: Pete | February 17, 2006 2:07 PM | Report abuse

Andy, You may be right, but the election will be over before the case is ever heard. requring IDs are a good way to prevent voter fraud. Is that why dems are against it?

Posted by: Barry Hoomes | February 17, 2006 2:01 PM | Report abuse

California's Gov. "Arnold"has a major problem first in his own party. He stands a good chance of a challenger from his right. If that doesn't materialize who can imagine the religeous right voting for a Hollywood star who is a proponent of gay rights - they will probably stay home.

Remember, this is a Democratic state and Treasurer Phil Angelides has a strong grass roots campaign already under way.

Posted by: Peter L. | February 17, 2006 1:55 PM | Report abuse

There is no way that requiring IDs at the polls will stand up with the Supreme Court. States try it and get shot down all the time,(ie GA) because it is way to close to the segregationist tactics pre civil rights.
One other thing, whatever Democrat gets nominated in Mass will win. Healey is a joke as a candidate and doesn't stand a chance. I am more suprised that other republicans haven't come out to run against her. Then again we're talking Massachusetts how many republicans actually live here?

Posted by: Andy R | February 17, 2006 1:55 PM | Report abuse

chris, given the corruption in ohio when it comes to counting votes or using slanted electronic voting machines with no paper trail, do you think it's worth having ohio on that list? blackwell is the guy who along with Diebold, delivered ohio to bush in 04. he also successfully knocked down ballot initiatives that would have reformed ohio's elections...initiatives that pre election and exit polling showed were very popular in the state.

i don't get why the integrity of elections is not a bigger story. i would really love to see you comment on this story in your blog considering your knowledge and perspective of everything elections and campaigns.

Posted by: sam | February 17, 2006 1:49 PM | Report abuse


Regarding NY as #1-
>>As always, the races are ranked from least likely to switch party control to most likely.<<

Regarding Strickland-

I was speaking strictly about the May primary but I believe Strickland wins in November too!


Regarding Petro v. Blackwell-

Embattled though he is, I wouldn't call Petro token opposition so it will be expensive publicity.

Posted by: RMill | February 17, 2006 1:41 PM | Report abuse

You should move Michigan higher on your list. The economy in Michigan is in the toilet (64% of the people say the state is on the wrong track; unemployment is worst in the country) and the Democratic Party is divided right now. Labor is not very happy with Granholm because she refuses to make any decisions on anything, including matters that are important to them. She is a great speaker but that only gets you so far when you can't produce results or even make any decisions. Anytime an important issue comes up, she says she will appoint a task force or a commission to study the issue. People see right through that. Granholm would be a great talk-show host, but she is in over her head and people realize that. She is in deep, deep trouble because she is weak and indecisive.

Posted by: Melvin H. | February 17, 2006 1:32 PM | Report abuse

Sujay: didn't mean to imply that you were anything close to a nutbar; sorry. Page back through The Fix's Archives (linked to in the upper left of this screen) and you'll find some sterling examples. This could also satisfy Will's interest in Bobby Wightman-Cervantes' past comments.

Posted by: Judge Crater | February 17, 2006 1:26 PM | Report abuse

Sujay: My liberal supervisor also likes Mike Dewine because of independent voting record. I wish Dewine was more conservative like me but I respect his innate decency. I expect Strckiland to win but don't underestimate Blackwell. (Petro won't get it) The new change requiring ID at the polls will help the republicans.

Posted by: Barry Hoomes | February 17, 2006 1:24 PM | Report abuse

To Judge Crater: As I said, I'm a relative newcomer to this blog, so, in deference to your experience, I'll lighten up on VB04 (even though being compared favorably with a "nutbar" is hardly a sterling endorsement). Apart from his occasional juvenile snipes, his remarks are generally thoughtful and well supported.

To Barry Hoomes: Though a liberal Democrat, I agree that DeWine wins. Sherrod simply doesn't cut it downstate. And b/c of his moderate stances on ANWR, W's budget proposals, NSA spying, and other issues over the years, moderate Dems won't be going after him rabidly.

Posted by: Sujay | February 17, 2006 12:58 PM | Report abuse

Bobby Wightman-Cervantes-

Not too long ago you wrote an excellent, and long, post about the corruption in local Texas politics. I mentioned some of the things you said to a family member, and they expressed interest in reading that post. Do you still have that?

Posted by: Will | February 17, 2006 12:50 PM | Report abuse

What happened to Alaska?

Posted by: Dave | February 17, 2006 12:38 PM | Report abuse

This one area where I believe Democrats will make substanial gains. Its safe to elect dems as governors because they don't control foreign policy and national security issues. I as a conservative could even vote for Strickland over Blackwell this november( its fair to note I'm a state employee and my selfish interests are included) But Dewine has my vote and should have no problem being reelected.

Posted by: Barry Hoomes | February 17, 2006 12:36 PM | Report abuse

Sujay: If you've followed these forums long enough you should realize that VB04's far more polite than he used to be. I've even been tempted to take him off 'ignore' a couple of times over the past week or so. If his little insults make him feel better, so what? Compared to some of the nutbars that periodically show up, throw brainless flame about like a 12-year old and disappear, he's a breath of fresh air.

Geez, here I'm defending VB. Did the oxygen levels in this room suddenly drop?

Posted by: Judge Crater | February 17, 2006 12:27 PM | Report abuse

Curious that you rank New York # 1. Suozzi is a compelling candidate but Spitzer is raising money at the pace of an incumbent and appears unbeatable in both the primary and general election. The Democratic base likes spitzer and he retains a tough, law and order image. I hope Suozzi challenges him anyway because I believe in competition and he has impressive record as a reformer.

Posted by: Intrepid Liberal | February 17, 2006 12:15 PM | Report abuse

To VivaBush: (1) Despite your thoughtful comments, Bob Bennett and, in turn, the Ohio GOP for years seem to have been incredibly successful in avoiding statewide primaries and having their uncontested nominees go on to win. Thus, I'd have to conclude that nominees with no primary opponents, on balance, have the upper hand.

2. I've followed your remarks for a number of weeks now. This is the Washington Post, not the New York Post. Accordingly, keep things civil and refer to the Dems. as the Dems., rather than your pejorative moniker of choice.

Posted by: Sujay | February 17, 2006 12:07 PM | Report abuse

CC: re the MI race; you have got to be kidding. You let a single TV ad influence your thinking? I naively assumed that some form of careful, rational analysis was involved. The ad may have made good points but if that's all it takes you'll have to update your list every few minutes when campaign season really heats up.

Your own unique and subjective response to whatever ads come out shouldn't influence your list.

Posted by: lpdrjk | February 17, 2006 12:05 PM | Report abuse

The Texas race is evidence of just how disorganized the Democrats have become. There is a very real posibility that the US Supreme Court is going to force the State of Texas to redistrict again - this could mean 3-5 new house seats for the Democrats just from the redistricting alone -

A win in the Texas Governor's race by the Democrat could mean the Democrats taking back the House of Representatives.

Unfortunately for teh Democrats no one is in charge of the greater strategey for taking back the House and Senate - shame - because the Texas race could decide how controls the HOuse

If you are a Democrat - after the March Primaries and we know who the candidate will be -send money loys of money - Democrats must take this Governor's seat if we are to also win back teh House of Representatives.

Bobby WIghtman-Cervantes

Posted by: Bobby Wightman-Cervantes | February 17, 2006 11:34 AM | Report abuse

I absolutely agree with cwest. What about Texas? No one seems to take Kinky Friedman seriously, but come November I think that a lot of people will be surprised at how tired Texans are of Rick Perry and the lack of focus on important issues such as education in our state. If Friedman (or Strayhorn for that matter wins) it will be the first time since Sam Houston that Texas has had an Independent governor.

Posted by: kgunn | February 17, 2006 11:30 AM | Report abuse

I was surprised that Alabama hasn't been mentioned on your list yet. Even though it is often considered the reddest of the red states, that really only applies to presidential and U.S. Senate races. The state senate and house are both controlled by Democrats (25D - 10R & 61D - 42R respectively). Of the seven state constitutional officers, three of those are Democrats.

The 2006 gubernatorial election is going to be particularly interesting because Gov. Bob Riley's approval rating just recently averaged 50 or higher. A year ago he was looking at a 35 or lower approval rating. His likely Democratic challenger is Lt. Gov. Lucy Baxley who is very popular among voters. Another interesting fact is that only once since 1980 has Alabama re-elected an incumbent governor.

Posted by: Jordan Pittman | February 17, 2006 11:25 AM | Report abuse

Totally dark horse pick ... Everyone expects US Rep. Butch Otter (ID-1) to glide to victory over second-time Dem nominee Jerry Brady, who got 42% against Dirk Kempthorne (who's retiring) in 2002. But Brady has been scoring points on two hot bipartisan issues: Otter's efforts to sell off huge chunks of Idaho's public lands and Otter's indifference to the possibility of Idaho's first coal-fired power plant.

Brady won Ada County (Boise) in 2002, and he'll win it again this year. This time, he may well win the fast-growing South Central Idaho (Twin Falls) area, too, as well as Eastern Idaho. This may not be a Top 10 race, but it's likely to be far more interesting - and close - than anyone would expect, given Idaho's solid GOP tilt.

Posted by: Julie in Boise | February 17, 2006 11:17 AM | Report abuse

What about the Texas race? We have an embattled governor, hand-picked by the President, who is rapidly losing the moderate Republican base, two colorful independents (Comptroller Carol Keeton Strayhorn, mother of Scott McClellan, and Kinky Friendman, musician, author and cigar-chomping gadfly who promises to de-wussify Texas) and a credible Democratic challenger in Chris Bell who would like nothing better than to de-throne Rick "Special Session" Perry. Hold on to your seats, boys and girls, this is going to be a close and exciting race.

Posted by: cwest | February 17, 2006 11:13 AM | Report abuse

A Weld-Faso primary would be interesting, and a Spitzer-Suozzi contest would be good. Weld v Spitzer would be a fun race. Despite his p.r. problems, Weld enjoys campaigning and still seems to be having fun. It will be fun to watch Democratic leaders tear down one of their brighter politicians. How dare he challenge the golden boy!

Posted by: Albany Pol | February 17, 2006 11:03 AM | Report abuse

One other observation about primaries:
it gives the party the chance to build registrations.

For example, last year we had a primary race with five GOP candidates. All of them were competitive and worked on getting out the vote. Some of the voters were Democrats and independents who cast GOP ballots. Had the primary been unopposed there may have been a couple thousand GOP votes. Instead, there were about 10,000 votes.

The winner went on to trounce the DIm candidate in the general.

Posted by: vivabush04OH | February 17, 2006 11:03 AM | Report abuse

As an Ohio Democrat, I hope your views about Ted Strickland's chances are accurate. Still, Ohio has become such a Republican bastion in recent years that, even with the turmoil in the GOP, I am not optimistic about much change. In any case, it should be an entertaining campaign season.

Posted by: Alan | February 17, 2006 10:54 AM | Report abuse

Both Rick and Glenn make intelligent comments about the pluses and minuses of primary campaigns.

As a party chairman I never discourage multiple candidates from running for the same office. I point out the benefits and the negatives, e.g. "do you really want to take on a popular incumbent?"

If it's an open seat, I get the candidates together and try to work out an agreement that only one runs. Failing that, I ask that they limit the $$ to be spent in the primary and ask them to agree to refrain from negative attacks that give the Dims ammunition.

I agree that the ideal is to have a primary with token oppostion so that the favorite candidate can keep his/her profile in the media along with other primary candidates.

It seems that any publicity that Petro gets these days is negative. Earlier this week the FBI said it would investigate his alledged pay-for-play ploys.
Don't see him winning nor stepping out of the primary so Blackwell will indeed get a lot of publicity and the chance to air his issues.


Posted by: Vivabush04OH | February 17, 2006 10:50 AM | Report abuse

The last statewide race won by someone with a truly competitive primary and not just token opposition was Mike DeWine in 1994. He defeated Bernadine Healy for the Republican nomination.

Prior to that, you have to go back to 1982, when Dick Celeste won a contested primary and went to be Governor. Also that same year Mary Ellen Withrow (Treasurer)and Sherrod Brown (Secretary of State)were victorius in both contested primaries and the General Election.

Posted by: RMill | February 17, 2006 10:39 AM | Report abuse


A tough primary also weakens the winner because they spend a lot of time in the line of fire from their own party's candidates. So, the other party can sit back, save money for the general election, and let the primary candidates beat each other up. IMO, it's preferable not to go through a primary.

Posted by: Glenn Gervasio | February 17, 2006 10:29 AM | Report abuse


To be technically accurate, Congressman Strickland still has primary opposition in former State Rep. and former candidate for Secretary of State Brian Flannery. Based upon current fundraising and polling, he has virtually no shot at winning the primary but has filed nonetheless.

Posted by: RMill | February 17, 2006 10:27 AM | Report abuse

I don't have data to support my position here, but it seems to me that a case like Ohio, where the nominee in one party is clear, and there will be a tough primary in the other, favors the winner of the tough primary. The primary obviously requires spending money that could otherwise be saved for the general election. But, the ads bought with that money, and all the press coverage of the primary, puts the primary winner on the front page, while the other party's candidate is cooling his/her heels. And I have to think that the winner of the primary gets a boost among independents just being the "winner". There is sort of a subliminal message in the primary win that the candidates policies and methods are tried and true.

Again, the data could prove me entirely wrong on this. I just think that if I was a candidate, aside from the finacial cost, I would rather be in the primary, keeping my troops sharp and keeping my name on the front page.

Posted by: Rick in Cincy | February 17, 2006 10:00 AM | Report abuse

On balance, I'd probably move Colorado onto the list and move Michigan off: especially given that events in CO in the past week have pretty much cleared the Dem field while the GOP has a big fight on its hands.

That said, Dems didn't recruit their best hope: Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper (great name!) and Bob Beauprez, the likely GOP candidate probably starts with higher name recognition and a track record of winning swing areas.

The other reason why this is interesting is because there could be some turbulence at congressional level: Beauprez's vacant seat must be won by the Dems if they want a majority; The "Western Slopes" seat that Salazar gained last time must still be vulnerable and the Colorado Springs district is also marginal.

Plus there's been a GOP retirement just announced - safe seat, but still diverting focus away from other contests.

Posted by: Adam Gray | February 17, 2006 8:28 AM | Report abuse

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