The Friday Line: Romney News Shakes Up Governors Rankings
Editor's Note: Due to techical problems with our blog vendor, The Friday Line didn't get posted last week. Apologies for the delay.
The biggest piece of news so far this year on the gubernatorial front came Wednesday when Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) announced that he won't run for a second term in 2006. With the seat now open, the Bay State becomes an even riper pick-up opportunity for Democrats.
You'll have to scroll down to see where Massachusetts ended up on the Friday Line -- the lower the number, the more likely it is the seat will change party. As always, your comments, questions and critiques are welcomed. Please post in the comments section below.
10. Florida -- OPEN, Gov. Jeb Bush (R) is retiring: Both parties are hosting two-way primaries. For Democrats, Rep. Jim Davis and state Sen. Rod Smith are facing off, while on the Republican side it's state Attorney General Charlie Crist going head to head with state Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher. That's where the similarities end, however. The two Republicans are well-known and well-financed. The two Democrats are little known statewide and have regularly trailed their Republican rivals in the cash chase. But national political atmospherics clearly favor Democrats at the moment, and neither Crist nor Gallagher has the star power that Jeb Bush brought to the ticket. (Previous ranking: N/A.)
9. Oregon -- Gov. Ted Kulongoski (D): Kulongoski's biggest problem at the moment comes from within his own party where a number of Democrats are jockeying to oust him. The biggest name of that bunch is former Gov. John Kitzhaber, who has said he will make a decision on the race next month. If Kitzhaber, who has played the political Hamlet since leaving office in 2002, decides to run, he would begin the primary as a favorite. And if he was able to unseat Kulongoski, Kitzhaber as nominee would make the seat decidedly safer for Democrats next November. (Previous ranking: 8.)
8. Arkansas -- OPEN: Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) is retiring: State Attorney General Mike Beebe (D) continues to round up support from his party, receiving glowing reviews for his speech at the state Democratic Party committee meeting last weekend. Beebe also has done an outstanding job of fundraising and seems likely to crest the $2 million mark by the end of the year. Former Rep. Asa Hutchinson (R) is no slouch as a candidate and will likely get some boost from the popular Huckabee, who has pledged to go all out to elect a Republican as his successor. (Previous ranking: 9.)
7. California -- Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R): A Field Poll released just before Thanksgiving encapsulates the divergent elements at work in this race. Schwarzenegger is almost universally known in the state but has a higher unfavorable rating (54 percent) than favorable (38 percent) -- never a good sign for an incumbent. But Schwarzenegger's two likely opponents -- state Controller Steve Westly and state Treasurer Phil Angelides -- are known by less than one-third of the electorate. In most states that kind of name notification deficit would be easily remediable with several months of television advertising. But given the prohibitive cost of television time in the Golden State, becoming a household name politically is a much harder task. Californians seem ready for a change, but if Schwarzenegger can define his Democratic opponent early on, voters may opt for the devil they know. (Previous ranking: 7.)
6. Michigan -- Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D): This race is currently all potential for Republicans. If Dick DeVos (R) (son of Amway founder Richard Devos) drops tens of millions into the race, and if his message catches on with voters in the state, and if the national climate doesn't go any further south for Republicans -- then Granholm is beatable. One thing we know for sure is that the state's economy continues to struggle, and Granholm must find a good way to explain it to voters so that she doesn't bear the brunt of the blame. For now, Granholm does have a cushion. A recent EPIC/MRA poll showed her with a 23 percent edge over DeVos. Still, Republicans remain decidedly optimistic. (Previous ranking: 6.)
5. Maryland -- Gov. Bob Ehrlich (R): Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley's selection of state Del. Anthony Brown, an African American legislator from Prince George's County, drew widespread praise both within the party and among influential media types in the state. The pick furthers O'Malley's momentum in his primary against Montgomery County Executive Doug Duncan, although Duncan (for now) has given no sign that he is reconsidering his bid. Ehrlich faces a tough job of convincing voters in this Democratic-leaning state to cross the aisle to support him for a second term, but he has shown a knack for doing just that during both his time in Congress and in the 2002 gubernatorial race. Still, O'Malley's growing strength should be worrisome for Republicans hoping to hang onto this seat. (Previous ranking: 5.)
4. Iowa -- OPEN, Gov. Tom Vilsack (D) is retiring: This race drops a spot solely because of Romney's announcement. Republicans have a right to feel good here as Rep. Jim Nussle (R) is running a strong campaign (though Bob Vander Plaats's (R) campaign is showing some life, attacking Nussle on his stewardship of the nation's budget while in Congress). The Democratic race is more wide open, although secretary of state Chet Culver seems to be bouncing back from a slow start; Culver also likely got a boost from a recent independent poll that showed him giving Nussle the closest race of any of the announced Democrats. (Previous ranking: 3.)
3. Ohio -- OPEN, Gov. Bob Taft (R) is retiring: Rep. Ted Strickland's campaign for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination got a major boost at the end of last month when Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman dropped his bid for the nomination. But on Thursday a new roadblock was thrown in front of Strickland as Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D) said she was considering a run for governor. Should Kaptur run she would enjoy strong support from organized labor. The Fix is betting she takes a pass, but until she does this race drops one slot. Republicans seem to have a two-way fight on their hands between Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell and state Attorney General Jim Petro, though state Auditor Betty Montgomery continues to insist she will stay in the race. (Previous ranking: 2.)
2. Massachusetts -- OPEN, Gov. Mitt Romney (R) is retiring: Romney's decision not to run for a second term bumps this race up two spots on the line. While polls showed Romney trailing state Attorney General Thomas Reilly -- the likely Democratic nominee -- he would have made this a competitive contest had he stayed in the race. Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey, who will almost assuredly be the GOP nominee, is an untested political figure who will be forced to answer for some of the shortcomings of Romney's term. Combine that dynamic with the Democratic nature of the state and Reilly looks well positioned to reclaim the governor's mansion after 16 years in the political desert. (Previous ranking: 4.)
1. New York -- OPEN, Gov. George Pataki (R) is retiring: No change at the top of the governors line this month. State Attorney General Elliot Spitzer (D) led all his potential Republican rivals by margins varying from 38 points to 50 points in a Quinnipiac poll out early this week. Meanwhile, the New York Republican party can't seem to get everyone singing out of the same song book. Former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld remains the likely Republican nominee, but the possibility of super-rich Tom Golisano entering the race complicates Weld's mission. (Previous ranking: 1.)
-- Chris Cillizza
Posted by: Phyllis | August 27, 2006 7:57 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: Troy | August 27, 2006 7:20 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: Terry | August 27, 2006 6:43 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: RMill | January 10, 2006 10:57 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: RMill | January 4, 2006 1:11 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: RMill | January 4, 2006 1:05 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Sandwich Repairman | December 21, 2005 2:01 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: Lone Star | December 19, 2005 9:40 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: CapeCodPolitics | December 19, 2005 9:23 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: db | December 19, 2005 8:57 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: KCinDC | December 19, 2005 3:40 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Marve | December 19, 2005 2:46 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Bill Baxter | December 19, 2005 1:00 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Peter Lorenzo | December 19, 2005 12:46 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Anonymous | December 19, 2005 11:55 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: MAttinDC | December 19, 2005 9:42 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: vivabush04OH | December 19, 2005 9:35 AM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.