Republicans always looked set to have a good year in governor’s races; what’s fascinating is how many of these races appear likely to be GOP blowouts. Still, the ones that look likely to slip through Republicans’ fingers — California, Massachusetts — are going to sting because of their symbolic value.
Still, if all goes as predicted below, the Republicans will have eight more governorships than they currently have. Some of them will be in key swing states: Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan. Others will demonstrate the GOP’s ability to win statewide in traditionally blue states such as Maine, New Mexico, and Oregon.
Republican Robert Bentley is heavily favored over Democrat Ron Sparks, and there is little sign of any potential for a massive upset.
Alaska: Suddenly promoted when Sarah Palin resigned, Republican Sean Parnell will get a full term of his own.
Arizona: Two years ago, Jan Brewer was the little-known Arizona secretary of state. Today, she is known for her deeply held opposition to illegal immigration, and she will win a full term.
Arkansas: While Republicans are drubbing Democrats in most of the state’s other races, Mike Beebe will probably win reelection by a comfortable margin.
California: This is perhaps the result I find most surprising and disappointing: Democrat Jerry Brown appears set to win by a healthy margin over Republican Meg Whitman. As one operative told me, a lot of Californians are too young to remember Brown’s first go-around as governor, and hundreds of thousands of transplants lived elsewhere during that time. Also, the late 1970s and early 1980s look like the Good Old Days in the Golden State; there’s actually some nostalgia for the Jerry Brown years. Californians have forgotten that he was managing what Ronald Reagan built — and Schwarzenegger has not laid comparable groundwork, to say the least.
Colorado: If Tom Tancredo is the next governor of Colorado, I owe Number-Cruncher a steak at Ruth’s Chris. I think Tancredo will come close, but fall short of Democrat John Hickenlooper.
Connecticut: Republican Tom Foley, a strong candidate with an unfortunate name, is making a strong push, but Democrat Dan Malloy will probably hang on in what remains a pretty deeply blue state.
Florida: The polls say Democrat Alex Sink has a very narrow advantage, but the early vote says Republicans are having a monster year in this state. Expect Rick Scott to be the winner, as this is the wrong year for Democrats to count on lucky breaks.
Georgia: A lot of Republicans are worried about former congressman Nathan Deal, and this could easily go to a runoff (to avoid that, someone has to win 50 percent). Still, it’s hard to see Georgia turning its back on Republicans in such a GOP year; the state knows what it gets with former governor Roy Barnes, unceremoniously ejected in 2002.
Hawaii: Some polls have indicated that Republican Duke Aiona is giving former congressman Neil Abercrombie a much tougher race than expected, but in the end, Abercrombie probably has enough respect and habitual Democratic voters to win.
Idaho: Republican Butch Otter, perhaps the best name in politics, will win a second term easily.
Illinois: Republican Bill Brady will defeat Democrat Pat Quinn in a very satisfying win for the GOP; they now have an enormous opportunity to prove that they can govern more effectively than the party of Rod Blagojevich.