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The Line: Expect a Democratic Runoff in Ky. Gov. Race

It's down to the wire in the Kentucky governor's race.

Gov. Ernie Fletcher and former Rep. Anne Northup are exchanging televised body blows over ethics in advance of the May 22 Republican primary, while two former lieutenant governors and a past gubernatorial candidate are fighting to make it to the June 26 runoff on the Democratic end of things.

Will Kentucky leapfrog into the No. 1 spot on this week's Line? Scroll down for the answer.

As always the top-ranked race is the most likely to result in a party switch. The comments section is open for your insight.

To the Line!

5. Washington (2008): Former state Sen. Dino Rossi (R) makes our job tough. If he runs, this is a top-tier race. If he doesn't, then Gov. Christine Gregoire (D) will likely cruise to second term. So what's Rossi going to do? He's not telling. After going almost entirely incognito following the 2004 race, Rossi has started to reemerge a bit lately but remains enigmatic when it comes to his future political intentions. He has said he will decide later this year whether or not to run. We're inclined to believe he'll get into the race. But Gregoire is doing everything she can to dissuade Rossi with a campaign bank account that has swollen to more than $1.6 million. (Previous ranking: N/A)

4. Indiana (2008): To the surprise of no one, Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) is expected to announce his bid for a second term on June 16. Two Democrats -- state Sen. Richard Young and architect Jim Schellinger are expected to get in, and former Rep. Jill Long Thompson is still considering a bid. It's hard to imagine a worse climate in Indiana than 2006 (Republican lost three U.S. House seats), but 2008 should be a different story, given that presidential election turnout should benefit Daniels in this red state. If Schellinger can make it through the primary, this is a seat national Democrats believe they can steal. (Previous ranking: 4)

3. Missouri (2008): It's been a surprisingly quiet past month for what has been the most engaged 2008 gubernatorial race. Maybe that's because Gov. Matt Blunt (R) and state Attorney General Jay Nixon (D) are counting the wads of cash they've raised so far. From Oct. 1, 2006, through March 31, 2007, Blunt collected a whopping $3 million and ended the period with $4.5 million in the bank. Nixon brought in $1.5 million during that time and closed March with $1.9 million on hand. We've said it before and we'll say it again: This race will be the most expensive and nasty of the cycle. The two candidates just don't like each other and are going to have millions of dollars to spend on tear each other apart. (Previous ranking: 3)

2. Kentucky (2007): Northup's campaign has not taken off as many neutral observers had expected. Fletcher, while clearly embattled, appears to have moved into a slight lead over the former congresswoman with less than two weeks to go until the primary. Northup has been attacking Fletcher over the scandals surrounding his administration and recently ran a fake Democratic ad detailing the incumbent's problems in hopes of driving home the point that nominating Fletcher would cost the party the seat in the fall. Fletcher has struck back by painting Northup as insufficiently conservative -- pointing to votes against school prayer and for tax increases. Fletcher's decision to fight back could be read as a sign that Northup's ads are beginning to work. The Democratic race has been almost entirely overshadowed by the GOP contest. Smart strategists believe it is a three-way race between former Lt. Govs. Steve Beshear and Steve Henry and 2003 gubernatorial candidate Bruce Lunsford. If none of the candidates gets 40 percent of the vote on May 22, the top two advance to a runoff a month later. (Previous ranking: 2)

1. Louisiana (2007): Rep. Bobby Jindal (R) is sitting pretty at the moment. He has collected better than $5 million for his gubernatorial campaign, has the overwhelming backing of the state and national GOP and has watched the two best known Democrats in the state -- Gov. Kathleen Blanco and former Sen. John Breaux -- decide against challenging him. Breaux's surprise no-go decision left Democrats with Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell as their lone candidate in the field. State Sen. Walter Boasso has just switched from the Republican to the Democratic party in protest of the Louisiana Republican Party's endorsement of Jindal. Neither Campbell nor Boasso seems ready to challenge Jindal, who must now be considered an overwhelming favorite in the fall. The only question is whether a fractured field can keep Jindal under 50 percent in the Oct. 20 open primary, thus forcing a runoff on Nov. 17. (Previous ranking: 1)

By Chris Cillizza  |  May 11, 2007; 8:30 AM ET
Categories:  Governors , The Line  
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