Several races for governor signal they could be close
Democrats are looking to make dent in Republicans’ state-level dominance
RALEIGH, N.C. — Twelve states will elect governors Tuesday and Democrats hope they can keep as many as eight governorships and take two more from Republicans.
The Obama years, especially since the emergence of the tea party wing of the Republican Party in 2010, have been brutal for the Democrats. During that time they lost 59 of 94 elections for governorships.
If Republicans win in toss-up races, they would tie their own record for the most postwar governorships held by one party. They now hold 31. Democrats hold 18. Alaska Gov. Bill Walker is an independent.
Six sitting governors have recently left office due to term limits, retirement, unpopularity, or runs for federal office.
Some of the close races for governor include:
North Carolina: After trailing by more than nine points in late August polling, Republican Gov. Pat McCrory has pulled into a virtual tie with his Democratic opponent, state Attorney General Roy Cooper, according to a Monmouth University Poll conducted Oct. 20-23.
But McCrory remains so unpopular in urban and suburban parts of the state that Democrats in downballot races have tied their opponents to the incumbent in negative ads.
Indiana: When Gov. Mike Pence dropped out to become Donald Trump’s GOP presidential running mate in July, Republican Lt. Gov. Eric Holcomb had to hurriedly step in, giving his opponent, Democrat John Gregg, an early advantage. Gregg’s lead is tightening in conservative Indiana, where Holcomb trailed by six points in a poll released Oct. 31.
Missouri: Chris Koster, the Democratic candidate for governor, has sought to make it clear to prospective voters that he supports a bill that eliminates training re- Roy Cooper, left, is challenging GOP Gov. Pat McCrory in North Carolina. McCrory had been trailing until recently. quirements to carry a concealed weapon, demonstrating the lengths candidates must go in to assure the state’s voters of their commitment to traditional conservative principles. Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed the bill.
Koster also checked another conservative box with his support of a bill requiring a government ID to vote. But Koster’s double-digit lead over the summer has thinned considerably. Now, Koster is tied with retired Navy SEAL Eric Greitens, a Republican, in a Monmouth poll released in late October.
New Hampshire: The race for governor has stayed close, with the Republican and Democratic candidates trading a slight lead back and forth late in the election season.
Gov. Maggie Hassan, a Democrat, is challenging a vulnerable Republican opponent in the U.S. Senate election. Republican Chris Sununu held a six-point lead over Democrat Colin Van Ostern this summer.
By the fall, however, Sununu’s lead had weakened slightly, and a Monmouth University telephone survey found Van Ostern leading. By early November, however, Sununu had recaptured a slim lead in both a Boston Globe poll and one by WBUR.
West Virginia: The Dem- Democrat John Gregg, left, has seen his early lead shrink over Lt. Gov. Eric Holcomb, who entered the race late. ocrat has a lead in spite of the Obama administration’s arms-length treatment of coal which has made state voters suspicious of the national party.
Jim Justice, a former coal executive, held an 11-point lead over Republican Senate President Bill Cole in an Oct. 12-17 poll by MetroNews West Virginia. Cole’s campaign responded that its internal polling showed the candidates neck and neck.
Justice has worked past Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama by completely ignoring them in his campaign, instead focusing on the business success that has made him West Virgin- ia’s only billionaire.
Montana: Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock maintains a lead over Republican Greg Gianforte, a Bozeman businessman. A Montana State University Billings poll found support for Bullock at 44 percent to Gianforte’s 32 percent, but a Mason-Dixon Polling and Research poll commissioned by Lee Newspapers found Bullock with just a two-point lead.
Like Missouri, the candidates in Montana that do well are able to convincingly show their adherence to conservatism, regardless of party.