"The Sunday Political Brunch" -- April 27, 2014


(Providence, Rhode Island) – Over the past few months we have looked at the key U.S. Senate races this year, with control of that body of for grabs. In the coming weeks we’ll look at key U.S. House races, but this week let’s look at the top races for Governor in the United States. Right now there are 29 Republican Governors and 21 who are Democrats (photo above).

“Ain’t No Sunshine” – Florida has perhaps the most intriguing race for Governor this year. Incumbent Republican Governor Rick Scott is vulnerable. Former Republican Governor Charlie Crist – who ran as an independent and lost for U.S. Senate – is now a Democrat, running for Governor. He has a real shot, but now Senator Bill Nelson (D) Florida is thinking of coming home and running for Governor, too. An expensive Democratic primary fight could be the gift the GOP is looking for. The latest Mason-Dixon Poll has a Scott v. Crist match up tied at 42 percent each.

“An Ocean of Candidates” – Rhode Island may be the smallest state, but it has a history of multi-candidate free-for-all races for Governor. This year is no exception. The main Democrats are Providence Mayor Angel Taveras, State Treasurer Gina Raimondo and Clay Pell, grandson of the late Senator Claiborne Pell (D) Rhode Island. The Republicans are Cranston Mayor Allan Fung and former Moderate Party candidate Ken Block. You can’t beat it for diversity: a Latino, an Asian, a woman, a white male, and one candidate (Pell) who is perhaps overshadowed by his much more famous wife, Olympic ice skater Michelle Kwan. This race could go a multitude of ways. Call it a toss-up right now.

“The 2016 Kingmaker” – Ohio, could once again be the state that decides a close Presidential race in, as it most famously did in 2004. Currently Republican Governor John Kasich is likely in a tough reelection bid against Democratic Ed FitzGerald, who is Cuyahoga County Executive. The latest Public Policy Poll has them tied at 44 percent each. Whomever wins could be influential in who wins the state’s key Electoral College votes in 2016. The most intriguing possibility is Kasich as the VP nominee on the Republican ticket.

“A Carter on My Mind” – In Georgia, Republican Governor Nathan Deal is vulnerable, especially after badly mishandling a winter storm with the Democratic Mayor of Atlanta. Right now State Senator Jason Carter (D) is leading in at least one poll, and is close to Deal in a couple of others. Carter – Grandson of President Jimmy Carter – could also benefit from another famous name on the ballot. Democrat Michelle Nunn – Daughter of retired Senator Sam Nunn -- is running for Senate and has a real shot. Carter could ride Nunn’s coattails. Georgia is a state to watch!

“On Wisconsin!” – My home state should have another really nasty battle for Governor. Republican Scott Walker who won in 2010, and then beat back a recall in 2012, is facing a tough reelection challenge from Democrat Mary Burke. Walker is polling ahead, but it’s close. Tons of money is pouring in from out of state. This may be one of the most expensive and nastiest races this year. People either love Scott Walker or they hate him. There is no middle ground for this lightning rod Governor -- who if he wins -- may eye a White House run in 2016. Put your Packer helmet on to protect yourself in this race!

“Boston You’re my Home!” – Democratic Attorney General Martha Coakley (D) Massachusetts, has a sizeable lead over Republican Charlie Baker, who lost in 2010.
But this is the same Martha Coakley who once had a 30 percentage point lead over Republican Scott Walker in the 2010 Senate race to succeed the late Senator Ted Kennedy. Coakley – who made a series of late-campaign political gaffes – blew her massive lead and lost to Brown. Could she meltdown again? Stay tuned!

“Texas Two-Step!” – Republican Rick Perry is leaving the Governor’s Mansion after 14 years. Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott has been one of the nation’s fiercest critics of Obamacare, especially in the courtroom. But Democrat Wendy Davis is a real gamer who has served on the Fort Worth City Council and is now in the State Senate (photo above). Abbott holds a solid lead right now, but Davis is a attracting a lot of attention (and money) from around the country, and an upset may be brewing. Even if she doesn’t win, she is one to watch on the state and national political scene.

“Pennsylvania Polka!” – Current Republican Governor Tom Corbett is in real trouble as he seeks a second tern. A recent poll from Franklin and Marshall College puts his approval rating at just 17 percent. Democrats have a crowded primary but businessman Tom Doyle or Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D) Pennsylvania, look like the two frontrunners. A bruising and expensive Democratic primary could help the GOP, but Governor Corbett has to reclaim a lot of lost ground. Like Ohio, the Keystone State could be a key battleground state in the 2016 Presidential race.

“Why All This Matters” – Certainly control of the nation’s Governorships is not as critical as political control of the House or Senate in Washington. But Governor’s can be influential in Presidential elections, and this year there will be competitive races in several of the key Presidential battleground states including Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida and Wisconsin. These Governors will also help shape legislative reapportionment after the 2020 Census. And Governors are influential in gaining and distributing federal funds from Washington. The bottom line: this year’s races for Governor are a big deal!

What’s hot in your state? Just click the comment button at www.MarkCurtisMedia.com.

© 2014, Mark Curtis Media, LLC.

Photo courtesy: abcnews.com

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