The Campaign Spot

Three Governors Races This Year? Or Four?

The coming year features three gubernatorial races, and perhaps a fourth. The first three are in Kentucky, Louisiana and Mississippi. In Kentucky, incumbent Democrat Governor Steve Beshear is expected to seek a second term and is likely to face off against Republican David Williams, currently president of the Kentucky State Senate. In Louisiana, Bobby Jindal will seek a second term and Democrats are still looking for a candidate to run against him.

In Mississippi, Haley Barbour is term-limited. Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant is heir apparent, but he is expected to be challenged by philanthropist Dave Dennis in the GOP primary. The Democratic field currently includes businessman Bill Luckett and Hattiesburg Mayor Johnny DuPree; Luckett is touting the support of actor Morgan Freeman, who has roots in the state. However, Freeman may have complicated Luckett’s bid when he declared, “reform in Mississippi is hard because the base stock of this state is a mule-headed bunch of farmers.” (But I’m sure he said it in a low, melodic, reassuring tone of voice.)

But the open question at this moment is West Virginia:

The battle lines over when a special election for governor will occur became more defined Monday when four elected officials from two branches of government filed conflicting opinions with the state Supreme Court.

Monday was the deadline for responses to two legal actions seeking the state Supreme Court to order a special election for governor sometime in the next year.

The lawsuit names three potential gubernatorial candidates – acting Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, Speaker of the House Rick Thompson, and Secretary of State Natalie Tennant – as defendants, each having a different take on the case.

Senate President Earl Ray Tomblin, D-Logan, assumed the role of acting governor on Nov. 15 when Gov. Joe Manchin resigned to assume his post in the U.S. Senate.

I’m told the Republican Governors Association is monitoring the situation closely.


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